The depth of the dents in our soul substance are reflected in the depth of our struggles on this planet. On this, the Pathwork Guide is clear. Nothing appears in our life that is not an out-picturing of our inner landscape. And for the most part, it is our childhood wounds that provide us the map to where our work is. The rest—the unfortunate events that aren’t linked to our inner faults—fall by the wayside. So it’s the stuff that sticks, the stuff that creates repeating unpleasant patterns, we need to look at.

From where I sit today, I know that no one in my family intended to hurt me. Yet the mistaken conclusion I came away with—what the Guide would call an “image”—was that “people intend to hurt me.” This was a belief I held that, as I grew up, sank down deep into my unconscious. This happens because such wrong conclusions follow child logic—they typically take form around the age of seven—but aren’t really logical to an adult mind. From there, my image attracted a pattern of painful experiences that seemed to validate that this belief was true.

Because it had become unconscious, I was no longer aware I had this belief. So I never challenged it. Until one day I started doing my work, following the teachings of the Pathwork Guide. Then whenever a painful feeling was triggered, I started asking questions: Is it true? Do they really intend to hurt me? Or are people just doing what people do, and it’s rubbing against my old wounds? On the other side of letting go of the pain I was holding—of crying the tears I’d fought to hold back when I was little—I discovered that it was not true. People hadn’t intended to hurt me. It had only appeared that way to me because of my hidden belief.

At one point, I had to walk myself through the realization that some fractured-off part of me believed my manager was sitting in his office thinking of ways to be unkind to me. To my adult mind, this was preposterous. To my tormented little girl, she had a hard time letting this notion go. Only by praying for my Higher Self to hold her and talk with her, and by continually asking to know the truth, could this part slowly start to heal.

It’s important to find where our images have gotten formed in this lifetime. But it’s helpful to realize they didn’t start here. No, our soul dents are well-ingrained grooves that we’ve been carrying with us for many lifetimes. And we’ve likely been working on them with the very same souls we’ve incarnated with as our family. Too often, though, all we’ve accomplished has been to take on more karmic debt, because we keep digging in our heels and pointing our fingers at everyone but ourselves.

Many people get hung up on knowing about past lives. The Guide suggests this isn’t necessary. For everything we need to know to heal ourselves can be uncovered from the ashes of this lifetime. That said, I’ve had one of mine made known to me. Although I take it with a grain of salt, if it’s true, then in a previous life, I killed a person who at the same time was trying to kill me; we hated each other. In this lifetime, that person is my mother. For me, this explains some things.

Believe it or not, we come here for the friction. Without that, our distortions would lie dormant in our beings and we wouldn’t ever reunite with the one light. Every disharmony in life, then, is fair game for helping us find our inner distortions. When we stop short of looking deeply inside ourselves and instead blame others for our pain, we do this whole setup a disservice and waste the very reason for our incarnation. So a key to healing is the willingness to take self-responsibility, mining every outer hurt for what it can show us about ourselves.

As humans, all of us harbor a well of painful feelings, and part of our work here is to empty that well. Doing so is a slow and painstaking process. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves and misleading you, dear reader. As the Guide reminds us, our slide into our current life experience—often filled with difficult situations—didn’t happen quickly. Our climb out won’t go any quicker.

We’ve all been carrying our negativity with us for a very long time, and it’s going to take a good long while to turn it all around, returning ourselves to the divine beings of light and love that we really and truly are, underneath it all. Spiritual teacher Ram Das is famous for saying, “We’re all just walking each other home.” But none of us can get all the way there until we all do. We might as well help each other out, as best we can, along the way.

Several years after I had frozen my parents out of my life, following Sarah’s death, my dad started reaching out to me by email. Slowly but persistently, he started reconnecting with me by continually, periodically reaching out to me. It’s been an important lifeline between us that has helped us repair our relationship through baby steps. In more recent years, he has become one of the best proofreaders of the many books I have written. We’ve come a long way.

Walker: A Spiritual Memoir by Jill Loree

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