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Compassion Heals our Fearful Self

By Nancy Swisher
December 31, 2006

Discover how loving our wounded, fearful self, rather than judging ourselves for our fears, allows this part of us to heal.

This morning I came across a wonderful poem in the Iowa Review by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Stephen Dunn. The poem is a heart felt metaphor for the Wounded Self or the fearful parts of ourselves. It goes like this:

Where He Found Himself


The new man unfolded a map and pointed

to a dark spot on it. "See, that's how

far away I feel all the time, right here,

among all of you," he said.

"Yes," John the gentle mule replied,

"alienation is clearly your happiness."

But the group leader interrupted,

"Now, now, let's hear him out,

let's try to be fair." The new man felt

the familiar comfort of everyone against him.

He went on about the stupidities

of love, life itself as one long foreclosure,

until another man said, "I was a hog,

a terrible hog, and now I'm a llama."

To which another added, "And me, I was a wolf,

Now children walk up to me, unafraid."

The group leader asked the new man,

"What kind of animal have you been?"

"A rat that wants to remain a rat," he said,

and the group began to soften

as they remembered their own early days,

the pain before the transformation.

Can you identify with this man? I can. My experience with the wounded aspect of myself is just like this. The wounded self wants to remain wounded! That's its nature. For instance, the wounded self or fearful self always has tons of reasons why something you want to manifest can't be done! Always an argument designed to protect your survival, which is how it got created in the first place.

One of the things I love about this poem is how the group softens because they recognize the pain of wanting to remain a rat.

Evolving our own consciousness means that we take responsibility to find a way to soften towards our own wounded, fearful self. That is the only way it will transform or let go of "wanting to remain a rat!" Our fear appears in order to give us the opportunity to love it and transform it.

Of course, loving the fear is what my clients say is "so hard". I always respond back: it's a choice. The ability to move into love in the face of fear is what the practice of Inner Bonding strengthens.

How to love? That knowledge is deep inside you and gets revealed when your desire to love is the most important thing in your life.

Is your "rat" afraid? Or ashamed? Does he or she say things like, You're never going to find a partner? You're stupid? You're a bad husband? You're ugly? You don't need this transformation crap. Your life has no purpose.

Such harsh words when put out in plain English, but in the atmosphere of our mind these are the beliefs that get played over and over on our inner sound system, which in turn create the feelings of hopelessness, shame, fear, anxiety and alienation.

Use this poem as a reminder about the nature of your wounded, fearful self. It's a rat who wants to remain a rat. But loving it allows it to transform. Into what?

A butterfly, a hummingbird, a whale, a divine being.

Copyright 2006 Nancy Swisher is a Certified Inner Bonding facilitator, writer and workshop leader. She has been in private practice as an Intuitive Counselor and Healer since l995. She is available for phone sessions at 319-338-7833.


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