Turning Frogs into Princes and Princesses

One of the most difficult, but most important, gifts we can give ourselves is to have the courage to look at our 'shadow' sides. If we shine light onto our traitor characters, find out what they are protecting us from, and then find a way to negotiate with them, we can then turn them into allies. Though scary, this, I have found, is a way to make peace with yourself and find fulfillment and joy.

In my late teenage years, I read the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. One of my favorite passages which speaks to this notion of befriending our traitors is found in Letters to a Young Poet:

How should we be able to forget those
ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the
myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses;
perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses
who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something
helpless that wants help from us.”

In my twenties, a friend of mine wrote a poem for me when he heard about my work. It, too, goes to the heart of this important task that we humans face:

Encountering Dragons: To Thine Own Self Be True

Once or twice upon a time
Back in the days of yore
Knights encountered dragons
In the new worlds they'd explore.
Though times have changed, they've rearranged
Some things last today.
We still encounter dragons
We must fight, befriend or slay.
It doesn't matter where we go
There is no place to hide
We still encounter dragons
Cause these dragons live inside.
Our shield is forged of honesty
Our lance is made of trust
Prepare to face our dragons
For we know that they are us.

In my own life and in my work with people of all ages, all careers, socioeconomic levels, ethnicities, etc., I have found that the scariest challenge we face is looking internally. I believe that this is so for several reasons:

  1. When we put something into a closet and attempt to make it 'Not Me,' that aspect or character gets stronger. As it gets more intense, wanting to be noticed, acknowledged, and attended to, it gets louder and more obstreperous.
  2. As that character becomes more aggressive, wanting to be noticed, we dislike it more intensely and push it away even more aggressively. That exacerbates the pattern of avoidance that is starting.
  3. The more we dislike this character that we have tried to disown, the more we don't want to believe that it is a part of us. Hence, it goes underground and becomes even more sneaky in its attempt to find a way out of the closet. We start believing that it is not a part of us.
  4. As we cut it off more and more, we see it in others very readily and don't like it. We then have intense reactions to those people, become very judgmental, and even hostile. We are not aware that we are not liking the reflection of a part of ourselves that we have disowned. This is totally underneath our conscious awareness. Remember, we dislike in others what we don't want to see in ourselves.
  5. It creates problems inside ourselves, such as anxiety, depression, stress-related illnesses, harsh inner critics, and malaise to name a few.
  6. This also creates problems in relationships. Have you ever met anyone who likes to be judged harshly?

With all this in mind, enjoy the journey of finding your inner 'frogs,' kissing them, and welcoming the princes or princesses that emerge.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

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