An extract from the book Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz PhD
Clarence Darrow once said, “The most human thing we can do is comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” The Self has the courage to do both. One might think that the Self’s “it’s all okay” sense of grace would lead to a detached passivity and acceptance of the injustices of life, but that’s not the nature of the Self. The clarity of the Self makes it hard for people to deny injustice and ignore suffering. The compassion of the Self leads people to resist tyranny and fight for the oppressed. The words of the Self bring hope to the hopeless. The energy of the Self seeps into the cracks in the tyrant’s walls and gradually erodes them. Consequently, oppressors attack people whenever they show any signs of Self-leadership. Abusers know that this is the way to control people, which is why virtually all my clients who have been severely sexually abused report that any time they acted in a spirited, spontaneous, or independent way, they were either verbally or physically punished. As a result, they came to fear the Self and keep it out of their body. Thus, rather than making people passive, confidence and grace have the opposite effect. If we don’t fear attack because we aren’t as vulnerable, and if we trust that we can handle the consequences, courage is much more accessible to us. If we know that everyone is a wave in the same ocean, we will challenge injustice without judgment. While so far we have emphasized the compassionate, nurturing side of the Self, it is important to remember that the energy of the Self can also be forceful and protective. The martial arts cultivate this protective side of the Self. We can be forceful without judgment because we know that no matter how an oppressor behaves, he or she has a Self, and our goal is to elicit it, not to further burden him or her with our judgment. As Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed it, “We must realize that the evil deed of the enemy neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy.” Elsewhere he wrote:[Nonviolence] does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. . . . it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. . . . if I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate, I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in a broken community. I can only close the gap in a broken community by meeting hate with love’ (King, 1994, pp. 211–214)…… Courage is not only about being a voice for the disenfranchised. It often takes more courage to recognize the damage we do to others and try to make amends. Clarity helps us to see what we have done and, if we have confidence, to understand that mistakes don’t mean we are bad people. We will have the courage to listen to the other’s story with curiosity, apologize sincerely, and ask what can be done to repair the damage. The Self-led person not only has the courage to act but also the courage to be accountable for acting. As a client’s Self emerges, he or she increasingly demonstrates another aspect of courage—the willingness to go toward his or her pain and shame. Clients’ internal journeys often involve entering the most frightening places in their psyches. There they often wind up witnessing events in their pasts that they had tried to minimize the impact of or forget entirely. In turn, this witnessing often leads to a clearer view of key relationships in the outside world and the determination to change those relationships. These changes sometimes involve financial and emotional risk. It takes courage to look and courage to act on what we see….’ (available at: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5205b3d1e4b08b89e5d18f2a/t/5493746be4b0980f00a35dfb/1418949739064/IFS+First+Two+Chapters.pdf)
A quote on courage from The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul) by Lissa Rankins MD, coach and author
“Courage is not about being fearless; it’s about letting fear transform you so you come into right relationship with uncertainty, make peace with impermanence, and wake up to who you really are….. ”
Photo on the left was taken on a street corner in one of the more beautiful parts of the town as I stopped to check out the films playing at the cinema. The image of the red TV screen got my attention, and thus, the photo was taken.
And a video based on Roald Dahl’s Television Poem at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnRVfEL6178