“If we want to support each other’s inner lives, we must remember a simple truth, the human soul does not want to be fixed, it wants simply to be seen and heard. If you want to see and hear a person’s soul, there’s another truth we must remember: the soul is like a wild animal - tough-resilient, and yet shy. When we go crashing through the woods shouting for it to come out so we can help it, the soul will stay in hiding. But if we are willing to sit quietly and wait for awhile, the soul may show itself.” - Parker J Palmer, The Courage to Teach
I love this writing by Parker J Palmer. It captures so beautifully what I have tried to explain through my own analogy of what it is to be quiet enough to allow our soul self to be seen and heard. To allow our soul self to trust in its own keeper, that it will be listened to and can be seen; that it is safe enough to come out of hiding.
Over the years working with clients, there is often this place they arrive to, where the body is holding something that has yet to be discovered. It is often felt and described as…
-it feels like something is there, but I can’t quite access it
-it feels like this part of me is completely numb
-I sense that something isn’t being seen
And often I am told that no matter how much willingness there is to explore what is being perceived, it just won’t show itself. It won’t reveal what is being held there. And through my personal direct experience, and those experiences of clients that I have been blessed to walk beside, I often share the following analogy.
That this part of ourself has been in safe keeping for much of our lives. It is a deep truth. It is part of essence. Our innocence. That which was hidden away from our own self in order to keep us safe and alive. This is our neurophysiology - the brain forms connections between memories and emotions, ways of perceiving the world and behaviours to stay together (like velcroed units) and these can be activated when needed. For example, when I notice friends doing something without me, it activates my story of “not mattering” that is velcroed to the memory of not being invited to a birthday party in elementary school. My adult self becomes that 8 year old again and forgets the present reality.
And it isn’t enough to go in with eagerness or desperation or desire or all the wanting in the world. That aspect of us, our human soul, needs to know it can trust that part of ourself that put it away. It needs to know it can trust that we won’t continue to override it with our patterning and conditioning, that says you stay there, it is much less risky to stay there and stay small and stay in hiding. Like a dog that has been neglected and ignored. When we first approach, no matter how well intentioned we are, it doesn’t trust us. We might be approaching with a smile and arms wide and a bowl of the most nutritious food, but it has been wounded and can’t differentiate you from the experience with the other human who neglected it. So the ask is for you to show up every day. To stay smiling and arms wide. To stay patient and tender without any expectation. To stay compassionate.
And like the quote speaks, there is the invitation for the soul to show itself. It begins to trust that it is safe to not only be seen, but also to be heard. Because we begin to shift our awareness from how do I get rid of this, to why is this here - from resistance to acceptance of the adaptation that was necessary at the time it was developed.
This journey is one that can’t be rushed. This journey, where the pause is invited, offers the possibility for deep healing. If you know you are ready or are curious, reach out. I would be honoured to hold space for you.
“Anyone, no matter their history, can begin to hear wholeness beckoning, whether in a shout or whisper, and resolve to move in its direction. With the heart as a guide and the mind as a willing and curious partner, we follow whatever path most resonates with that call.” - Gabor Mate, The Myth of Normal