Embracing change, embracing yourself

The Guest House


This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.


— Jellaludin Rumi


Fall has always been my favorite time of year. The crunchy, bright-colored leaves underfoot make me smile, and the cooler temperatures make me glad to pull out my cozy clothes and boots. For those of us who adore the bright sunshine and long, hot days of summer, autumn may set off alarm bells that summer is over and winter not far ahead. I enjoy summer, but by the time autumn approaches I am ready for the change. 


Making space for the new


There is something about the changing season that always makes me sit up a little straighter. Every year around this time, I notice a resurgence of creative energy. I start thinking about groups to run, blogs to write, goals to pursue, and changes to enact. The shifting season awakens an energy that I find exciting.


In order to act on that impetus for change, however, something must be let go. Trees cannot take on the beautiful fall colors that set their leaves aflame with glory until the lush green foliage fades and dies. Welcoming the cooler temperatures and crisp air of fall means saying goodbye to the swimming pool, and acknowledging that winter will eventually follow. In order to invite in a new good thing, we must make room for it by letting go of something else.


Welcoming the whole


The poem, The Guest House by Rumi, is one of my favorites as well. In my primary model of therapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS), we embrace a philosophy that all parts of ourselves are welcome. We are not made up of good parts and bad ones. In order to heal from the wounds that burden us, we must welcome and bear witness to the pain that often gets pushed aside. To access the beauty of healing, we have to be willing to sit with the parts of us that hurt. We must let go of the comfort of pushing that pain away.


The Guest House speaks to the importance of welcoming the fullness of our experience. It is natural and normal to wish to avoid pain. It can also be very limiting. If we want to experience a full life, we must be open to all aspects of it. By being open to your own hurt and burdened parts, you create the very environment they need to heal. And that is worth the price of admission, yes?


Looking ahead, looking within


This week, as you welcome (or mourn) the change of the season, see if you can welcome also the fullness of your life. What pains do you wish to heal? Give those parts your love. What burdens do you want to release? Show those parts the openness of your heart to them. What healing do you long to find? Welcome in the parts that long for it. Embrace joy, grief, anger, love, and the full spectrum of emotions. Like the many beautiful shades of fall, you are a riot of color inside. Celebrate your fullness!