Use of Fire
So many people seek peace by ignoring the elephant in the room — even if it’s about to stampede right over them. They’ll walk away from arguments, pretend that nothing’s wrong, and basically do anything to avoid a fight…
Not if you’re an Aries, Leo or Sag. These people go directly into the fire — like they’re dressed in a fireproof suit that only gets comfortable after it’s blazing hot. They love it. They’ll start an argument for no good reason because it makes them feel energized and ‘right.’
But fire doesn’t have to offend. It doesn’t have to hurt. When used correctly, and brightened by the fuel of love, fire becomes a powerful force of transformation.
Cancers, Taurus, Libra and Gemini…
Most of us hate arguing, especially if there was a violent or irrational character in our childhood. One vague memory is enough to make us allergic to uncomfortable situations. Some people will drive miles out of their way, just to avoid an emotional trigger.
Can you blame them? Unresolved pain is difficult to processes without good therapy. The side effects are devastating: a dulled life, sadness, lack of clarity, and a never-ending stream of missed opportunities…
My mom had a feisty personality, she was A LEO; she was volatile at times. My dad never took the bait. He would leave the house. He didn’t want to match her craziness; he’d rather leave until the fire went out. I absorbed his style — until much later when I came to find out it didn’t work for me.
I held in all my feelings. I had a hard time crying — hardly ever did. I developed acne, and had an ulcer by the time I was 18. I never let my fire out. I just imitated my father’s personality — the water approach. He’d go off alone, walk away, and let it go. I did the same, but I continued to harbor all those feelings and they ate away at me.
Being a pleaser — I’d go far out of my way to prevent fiery outbreaks in the world around me — and it drove me into depression. Thank God for that too, because it brought me to a therapist.
Let the healing begin…
Like so many others, I’d lost my authentic self and replaced it with socially acceptable behaviors. This is one large cause of depression. My therapist recognized my emotional sensitivity. She told me I needed to stand up inside my fire, give it voice and stop walking away. She challenged me to go to a party, where I knew no one, and pretend I was comfortable standing out. She encouraged me to act boldly, find my voice, and show up with the new people I met there.
I didn’t like it, but I did it. I poured wine for people I didn’t know. I introduced myself with enthusiasm. I forced myself to jump into a political debate with two men sitting at a fire — what a perfect setting for my experiment! I never voiced my opinion when it came to politics, but this evening, I let my passions fly.
When I walked out of the living room into the kitchen for a break, a women stopped me to say, “It’s so good to see someone so bold! Glad to meet you. You sure can hold your own.”
“Ha ha! I’ve fooled her, I thought.
Then I realized…
Wait, I did do it.
It wasn’t that hard. From that evening on, I decided not to hold back. I pushed myself. The pleasing persona I’d assumed, the way of holding my light back was dated. With a gentle push, my true authentic self finally came out from behind the curtain.
I continued to practice this. You know that saying, “Fake it until you make it?” It works.
FIRE and Therapy
Where Fire has really serve well is my practice as a therapist. There are so many times, after deeply listening to a client, that I hear myself saying, “Ok, now hold on. That story’s too well-worn, and I’m not going to let you continue this anymore.” I proceed to challenge their stories. I push them into a refreshed level of honesty.
“That’s just wrong,” I might say. “You’re being a victim. You don’t have to do that!”
I’m not emotionally involved. I report the truth with passion. The surprising thing is, people just love this voice.
We tend to think it’s rude or imposing to be loud, straight, direct or blunt. But when it’s doused in love, I promise you this kind of honesty is just the medicine needed.
When a client knows you’ve got their back they can hear you. I insist my clients get better. I tell them if we can’t shift something in two or three sessions, don’t work with me.
I might say, “You’ve left your art, you’re accepting a mediocre life because you think you’re depressed. You aren’t depressed. You’re lazy, and just not willing to get up and do your work.” Or, when someone wants to blame another for their sadness or stuckness, I might say, “Wait, so s/he has stolen your joy because s/he stays at home and watches TV? That’s them, now YOU get up, out of the house.”
Lives can change with one small sentences when there’s compassion behind your voice. Remember: people need to trust you before you can aim fire like this.
Because there isn’t an ounce of me wanting to prove a point, or to increment their character suggesting they’re stupid or getting it wrong people me. Quite the contrary — every part of me wants to give them back their power by speaking powerfully to them.
Cultivating Trust After Facing the Worst
Partly, I trust because the worst that can happen has already happened to me. There was a murder in my family. There was a severe drug addiction. I had to visit state secured prisons as a teenager. I watched my husband go from health into a chronic disease that finally took his life. I lived through a robbery where I was held up with a gun to my head. My point: I have no reason to trust life. But I do.
When the worst things happen, the right attitude places a thick lining of insight in place to soothe the pain. Wisdom can be extracted from painful lessons. But, and this is a very large “BUT,” you must be interested. You have to want it.
It takes muscles. It takes practice. It takes a position called “the observer.” Are you interested in looking at your life like you’re in a movie and have the power to reinterpret your story from the observer’s eyes?
You have to learn how to practice being the observer, and engage this position, even if it’s very painful to do so. Even when you don’t think it will work. That’s what I mean by “it takes muscles.” It’s not easy, but it’s a process that allows us to cultivate the wisdom we need, and it’s how we throw a big and loving cog into the system. You are under the hood learning the mechanics of your mind’s true power.
FIRE is HONESTY
Fire has a dualistic quality: it can focus like a laser, carrying powerful healing qualities; or, it can destroy, like a lit match in a pool of gasoline. What truths would you say to your family, partner, kids, or boss with the intent of bringing you closer and changing the dull pretend game?
Maybe it’ll sound something like this…
I wished I could have told you…
There are so many opening sentences you can use to soften the blow. This is the trick. You have to start soft; three positives before you drop the hatchet. And what you say has to be real and heartfelt, or it will never work. Yielding fire is an art. It’s a practice.
I love you too much to watch you drink your life away. I care about our family and I notice we’re not close anymore. Mom, I never knew how to say I missed you when I was growing up.
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HERE IS SOME FIRE
If our planet’s ever going turn a corner, we need to build a healthy relationship with passion and truth. Without focused fire, lovingly applied to the things we need to change, we’ll destroy ourselves. I care too much not speak up about this. We need to find the right use of passion, truth and love.
Here’s some Silverman fire: The school of hard knocks doesn’t care if you’re sad. It doesn’t care if you’re depressed, overweight or sick. There’s always the means to ask for help — always a chance to change. Take responsibility for your pain. No excuses allowed — not your chart, not your mother, and certainly not your body type. There’s no reason for you to stay at home and complain. All you have to do is make the change…starting NOW!
Debra Silverman holds her Masters in Clinical Psychology. She is a practicing psychotherapist in Boulder, Co and has a fascination with the elements and personality types.