The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

November 2016: Elegant Hedgehog

Posted on Nov 16, 2016

November 2016: Elegant Hedgehog

“Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside she is covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary–and terrible elegant. ”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

An interesting theme has doggedly pursued me for the past couple weeks. It started with the book club selection, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (2008). It is not the easiest book to read; but once you get half way through, it becomes very engaging and thought provoking. The theme of the book is being seen and loved/accepted for who we are—yet we go to great lengths to hide our true selves from others—for fear of rejection, judgment, being misunderstood, being unseen, being lost, being wounded.

For me, this theme of being seen by others for who we truly are has also surfaced in sessions, friendships, and social media. The Universe is not letting this one go for me! Evidently I have a significant lesson to learn. I am fascinated that we do not see ourselves as others see us—the good, the bad, the ugly. Yet even our best efforts at hiding cannot dim our light for those who see us sparkle. They can see through the subterfuge—are not put off by it—but simply, gently pursue what they see—maybe even light their own candle by the inner flame of those they encounter.

I have had to squirm my way through this concept of self-acceptance and sense of value these past couple weeks. Not only to be present for my clients also squirming through this one in sessions, but for my personal growth and development: to know that others hold the shiny with dull with complete acceptance and maybe even understanding. I am continuously amazed by the strength and beauty in my clients—a light they cannot always see or are comfortable with. So it is somewhat ironic that others see my inner light even when I don’t. And yes, it makes me uncomfortable to be seen. I am just as afraid as my clients.

There is something about feeling exposed, vulnerable, and unworthy in being seen. We learned at a very early age that love can’t be trusted. That being our true selves leads to pain and suffering. That it is much safer to hide and put on a persona of self-protection. That our dull aspects have no value, are beyond polishing. And yet, there remain those incredibly special souls who see through all of that and wish to draw us out of our protective shells. It is terrifying. Another ironic twist is how I must terrify my clients when I attempt to bring forth their inner light. The word exposure comes to mind as well as safety, trust, and patience.

The absurd conundrum is: we obsess about what “everyone” thinks of us when “everyone” doesn’t even care. And if they do, it is to make judgments; but they are surface judgments without seeing or appreciating our deepest selves. We worry about what impression we are making, when that is not what we are meant to do with our time and energy—or even money. Our true light will shine regardless of what impression or mirage we try to construct. And for those to whom mirages matter—we must ask ourselves, why are we trying to impress them? What benefit is it to us what someone else thinks? How does that help us live more fully?

We get dreadfully distracted from our life purpose when we try to hide behind an impression or mirage. We have no one to impress. We have only to shine. Our true selves will be honoured by those who can see the light. And those who are blinded by smoke and mirrors don’t value what they see anyways.

When we get comfortable in our skin, value our unique contribution to life on this planet, we can confidently go where we’ve never gone before. If others bask in our light, let them. If others prefer to dull our sparkle, get out the chamois to restore the brilliance. Our task is twofold: to continue to shine despite the naysayers—the “everyone” we are trying to impress yet who don’t care; and to soak up the warmth from the flames of fellow, brightly-lit souls. If we add a third task, it would be to contribute to the radiance of others—especially when they don’t see it themselves.

Shine on Beautiful Soul reading this, shine on! Blind others with your brightness.


“It would be so much better if we could share our insecurity, if we could all venture inside ourselves and realize that green beans and vitamin C, however much they nurture us, cannot save lives, or sustain our souls.”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

1 Comment

  1. LOVE this one! If we could all feel safe enough to become vulnerable to share ourselves without the fear of rejection…unconditional love.

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