Private Scilla

Serving the Planet


To do this work it’s vital to me to keep as awake and aware as I can and to take care of my own energy, so in this section I shall share something of how I do this. I’ll describe the skills we need

to develop steadily to ensure we contain our ego, and how to nourish and replenish the energy to stay on course and to have abundant joy in what we do to serve the planet.

I talk quite a lot about self knowledge

Some would say I go on about it, and I even helped start an organisation named SKGR [Self Knowledge Global Responsibility]. But I don’t always enjoy it.

My particular challenge is my hyper-active, noisy, unkind inner critic. It hits me as soon as I’ve done something a bit less than perfect. It evens hits me before I’ve done something a bit less than perfect, with the result that I lose my nerve. I get scared. So, what to do about fear? I have a little mantra: The things I dread get fat on the energy I feed them. Then they become real.

We all know the syndrome: I’m anxious about something, I worry about it, next thing I know I wake at 3am in a cold sweat, and by 4am I’m pinned to the pillow by this huge monster. That’s the moment to get up, make a cup of tea, and deal with the fear. I actually talk to it, as if I am the parent and it is the child, and I instantly feel better. I find out what it needs. Then we make a plan. Then I say: “Right. We’ll wake up in the morning and put the plan into action. But now it’s time to sleep.” And usually we do.

Scilla at her home in Sherborne

So what about anger?

Inevitably, where there’s injustice, there’s anger. Anger’s useful, but it’s inflammable, like gasoline. And like gasoline, if you spray it around and someone lights a match, there’s an inferno. But if you keep it well enclosed in an engine, it can give you the energy and courage you need, and drive you forward.

When I started working on dialogue with nuclear weapons policy makers, I was so outraged at the dangers they were exposing us to, I wanted to argue, rage, shout at them. Entirely ineffective. It took me a little while to learn that it was OK to use anger to fuel the work to eliminate nuclear weapons, but it was pointless – counter-productive in fact – to get angry with the people doing it.

Facing a crisis

When we face a crisis (especially if its accompanied by a nasty inner saboteur) it’s easy to freeze. I become stiff and I forget to breathe, with the result that the blood stops getting to my brain. So just when I need to fire on all cylinders, I’m sputtering on half of one.

I find that the best antidote is humour, and to bear in mtind that this is merely an AFGO (another f***ing growth opportunity).

I reckon:

  • Emotional crisis enables change.
  • It’s the opportunity for change.
  • And things have to be excruciating before we change.
  • And the only person I can possibly change is [I’m afraid to say] me.
  • “I chose to work with Scilla as she has such a vast knowledge in the area of weapons of mass destruction. Her advice has been instrumental in seeing through my vision for the death star. Also, be careful what you say or I might kill you with a tray!”

    Lord Vader

    Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces

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