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The Power of the Pause


When a bull stops and finds querencia -- his place of safety -- he becomes truly dangerous. Yet in the arena of human relationships, this pause, this place of safety, is where healing begins.

This article appeared in our August 2003 issue. A folktale tells of a man so frightened by his own shadow that he tries to run away from it. He believes that if only he could leave it behind, he would be happy. He grows increasingly distressed because no matter how fast he runs, his shadow never once falls behind. Not about to give up, he runs faster and faster until finally he drops dead of exhaustion. It never occurs to him to step into the shade and sit down to rest. If he had paused for even an instant in the shade, his shadow would have vanished. Knowing Our Shadow Our own shadow is formed from the parts of our being that we experience as unacceptable. Our families and culture let us know early on which human qualities are valued and which are frowned upon. We want to be accepted and loved, so we try to fashion and present a "self" that will attract others and secure our sense of belonging. But inevitably, our natural aggression, need, or fear -- frequently taboo emotions -- are expressed, and the significant people in our lives react. Whether we are mildly scolded, ignored, or traumatically rej …

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