Mel Collie


Do you Fight or do you Run?

When faced with others success in the industry and others inspiring photos, what goes through your head?

"Thats amazing, wish I had taken it"

"Love that, I can do that just as well"

"Wish I could take photos like that"

"Why can't I take images as lovely as that?"

"I'm going out tomorrow at the crack of dawn and I'm going to take a photo like that one"

"My photos are rubbish, I'm not going to take anymore photos for a while"

All of the above are naturally human responses.

A response to an image we like can be a threat. A threat creates a response in our brain which means we are in an area of the nervous system which creates fight, flight or freeze.

We fight it, we run away or we do nothing, we freeze, procrastinate.

Fighting it means we can become aggressive, throw a punch
Running away involves the legs, in order to get away from the threat
Freeze means we are frozen to the spot.

All primal reflexes in the sympathetic branch of the nervous system that haven't gone away. they still exist in the nervous system. They become real when we are faced with a threat.

This can be anything that threatens to destabilise homeostasis, our balance.

It can be opening a bill, your bank balance getting a bit low, the car going into the garage to be fixed, illness in the family, getting the kids ready for school, running late, traffic jam, road rage, computers being slow, seeing someone else image do better than yours, no one liking your images, not being happy with your editing process, the printer jamming paper again.

Can you see where this leads?

We can become more dominant in the sympathetic part of the nervous system, which governs our responses, so we become more reactive, we do less to please us and more to please others, we are less true to ourselves, not in balance, we listen to the negative thoughts, of which we have thousands every day, and we believe them.

We become scared, less confident, lose self esteem, are less sure of ourselves. We over think.

This changes our breathing, our immune system, our digestion, it can make us sick and tired, irritable and anxious, angry and disappointed, negative and apathetic.

It's not a case of stopping all of that, because we do need a certain amount of stress, its a case of noticing it , making the sympathetic less dominant , finding a balance between that and the para-sympathetic, which is responsible rest and digest, the other end of the scale.

We rest less when agitated, it affects our digestion as the blood is taken away from the centre of the body and referred to the arms and legs ready to fight or run.

Finding the balance begins with noticing that you aren't happy where you are. Stressed, can't sleep, anxious, worried..

A few easy ways to begin that process:

1. Slow breathing, 10 breaths x 4 times a day
2. Spending less time on social media comparing yourself to others
3. Minimum of 20 minute walk every day
4. Meditation
5. Napping
6. Gentle exercise, too much can overstimulate and make things worse.
7. Reducing sugar and caffeine, increasing water and green vegetable,
8. Take off shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the grass for 20 minutes a day.
9. Hot bath/Sauna/ Steam room
10. Run two fingers over your lips , as the parasympathetic fibres run through them.
and finally
11. Stop multitasking. Do one thing, focus on that, stop allowing distractions.

When you practice a balanced nervous system you being to be you. That may sound a bit odd, but so many people are pretending to be other people, putting on a mask when they leave the house, hiding behind the keyboard when on the computer. Saying and doing things that they think others want to hear rather than what they want to say.

Take the photos you want to take. If you are drawn to street photography, do that. If you are drawn to abstract, do that. If you are drawn to portraits, do that. Admire other peoples work but stop when it becomes something you use against yourself.

The 11 listed ways above are ways of you calming down, slowing down, so you can understand your self better, and stop being someone else. Stop being a people pleaser and stop taking photos that you think you should be taking.

Eventually you get to a stage where you are genuinely happy for others successes without feeling threatened by that.

Be you. To be anyone else means you wish your life was totally different, so all the decisions you have ever made that have led to this moment in time were all wrong. Thats a sure fire way to elevate the sympathetic nervous system. Maybe some of your decisions weren't the best ones, it doesn't matter, what matters is right now, the past and the future only exists inside your head.

Make yours what you want it to be.

Mel Collie
Photo workshops with a difference
Japanese Gardens, Newquay, Cornwall. Sunday 29th October.
Booking via the website.

Melanie CollieComment