ELLE (UK) - - Fit Notes -

very year, I have a tantrum over my tax re­turn. To the casual ob­server, I may look like a grown-up but even when you have a job, a bank ac­count and you’ve started us­ing eye cream, you’re ca­pa­ble of kick­ing off when your emo­tional re­sponse goes be­yond rea­son – punch­ing a pil­low, pound­ing the tread­mill un­til it shakes, sob­bing into your MacBook Air. Tax, I have re­alised, is my trig­ger. It presses all my child­hood-fear but­tons: maths, mak­ing a mis­take, get­ting ‘in trou­ble’ with some dis­tant author­ity.

I can’t trace these trig­gers back to my par­ents, so I guess I ac­quired them at pri­mary school. It was an oddly old-fash­ioned school for the Nineties, run by a Mag­gie Thatcher looka­like called Miss ByrneCoope­r. There was a dra­co­nian em­pha­sis on be­ing neat, obe­di­ent and la­dy­like. Any­thing rowdy, ec­cen­tric or messy was un­wel­come – we even had to walk ‘in a gen­teel and or­derly fash­ion’. Maths was the one sub­ject that didn’t come nat­u­rally to me. I hated not be­ing good at some­thing. Most of all, I feared get­ting ‘told off ’.

Psy­chol­o­gists call this kind of re­cur­ring bag­gage our In­ner Child. It’s the frag­ile, vul­ner­a­ble part of us that adapted to fit our child­hood, and re­peats those pat­terns into adult­hood. She may whis­per in your ear that you need to be ‘a good girl’ to be ac­cepted, sab­o­tage a job in­ter­view by con­vinc­ing you to get drunk the night be­fore, or de­stroy re­la­tion­ships by de­mand­ing in­ces­sant re­as­sur­ance. We all sit on a spec­trum of how far our In­ner Child

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