Empathy Series 5 – Pruning


As the voices still, we notice there are some which are so insistent and damaging that no matter how much we work to hush them, they are nearly always ringing in our ears, living inside our bodies. These voices often act to subtly (or overtly!) sabotage our best efforts. They are mocking, critical, and discourage us from wearing our most authentic shiny skin. They live inside us and offer a running commentary on the failures of our lives. Sadly, often these voices are the mocking caricatures of those who are (or once were) close to us. Parents, siblings, teachers, lovers and friends. They are those we at some point trusted to know better than we do and – in the turbulence of our inner waters – they took on the mantle of authority that serves to keep us small.

It is important to remember that these challenging voices are the lower egoic self’s impersonations. It is the sinister mirroring effect of the unthinking things people once said or implied that have been blown out of proportion in the darkness of our own shadows. It is never our place to judge the person whose voice we hear in the echoing chambers of our fears. Even the most seemingly malignant among us is the product of her own misunderstandings.

However, for the sake of growth, the cutting and ugly voices must be removed. Like damaged branches of an otherwise healthy tree, they must be cleared away that we may grow tall and strong toward the Sun. And so we must remove the broken sherds of poison that remain within those voices. We must do surgery.

  1. Breathe deeply and enter your private inner spaces. Ask for a malignant voice from within to come forward. As it does, it may take the form of someone you know who once said such a thing to you. Perhaps a lover who questioned your ability to survive without him. Or a parent who listened less to your Soul than to her own fears. Or perhaps it is a voice from a magazine that says your body or skin is flawed. Let it surface and find it in your body. Now, without judging, feel it leaving you. This may be very simple or it may take a great deal of prayerful meditation. With the understanding that your Soul’s voice is never cruel, feel the poisonous tendrils leave your body. It may help to imagine pruning the ugliness away. If appropriate to you, ask for Divine assistance. As the poisons leave, breathe deeply, and nurture the cut places. Repeat as necessary. And it will likely be necessary.

  2. When we prune our inner spaces it is also necessary to prune our outer spaces. Consider so called toxic relationships. It is convenient (and self-congratulatory) to call the Other “toxic.” But really, there are only those who are toxic to us. Because of the unique interaction between the waters of different individuals, some people and places may cause a toxic reaction in us. It is appropriate to pay attention to these situations. And wise to limit them. If we are consistently around someone who, whether intentionally or not, makes us feel bad about ourselves, then we have to heal. And sometimes that means pruning them from our lives for a time. Perspective often shifts with time and space to heal. Consider relationships in your past that were “toxic.” How did you handle them? Would you handle them differently now?

Look to where you need pruning. What relationships are “toxic” and how can they be healed? It may be time to step away from a dynamic that is causing you to feel harm. Look to the inner voices that cut you down and remove them. Look to the outer voices that make you feel small, weigh their merits, and then make the changes necessary.