The Phoenix Lights Herself on Fire

Usually when we think about the phoenix, we think about the rising from the ashes part. It’s such a powerful symbol of hope.

Recently, I found myself sitting in the ashes – covered in soot.  There’s a quote that pops into my head at these times from Marianne Williamson’s phenomenal A Return to Love that goes something like ” the only thing worse that having to say “Oh God, I can’t believe I did that” is having to say, “Oh God, I can’t believe I did that…..Again.”  Yes, this trip to the ashes was my own doing.

I like to work with what I have to get myself out of the darkness and I had a lot of ashes available to me, so I started to think about my old friend phoenix.  Thinking about her rising from the ashes was a little worn out, so I dug a little deeper……hey wait a minute………

I’m not the only one who lights herself on fire (aka makes mistakes, says stupid things, relies on old behaviors to solve problems, relapses, is mean, pleases, procrastinates, wastes days, etc. etc. etc.).  SO DOES THE PHOENIX!!!!

The phoenix rises from the ashes, but first she sets herself on fire.  Think about it.  No one sets her on fire.  One minute phoenix/next minute fire.  In the myth, this may happen cyclically, but who knows, my psyche may have needed to be taken down for a bit.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, maybe I wasn’t growing and it was time to build anew.  Doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that mistakes and missteps along the way are part of life and sometimes we are going to do it to ourselves.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. We are going to light ourselves on fire (from now on for fun, I’m calling this phoenixing myself), it’s only a matter of time.
  2. We do have a say of WHEN it happens again.
  3. The only tools we have to delay the next phoenixing is staying conscious with a focus on self-care and problem solving.
  4. Go back and look for the clues that put the matches in your hand last time so you can delay it for next time.  What did you miss?  When did you stop paying attention?  When did you stop taking care of yourself?  When did you start giving yourself away?  When did you start paying with a pound of flesh?  Who took your voice?  When did you lose your power?


And when you do find your wonderful self in the ashes again – and you absolutely will – there is one thing you must not do.  It is the one thing that will guarantee you more ashes and less red feathers.  You must not beat yourself up.  The phoenix does not waste her time with it – she’s too busy rising.








Ginkgo Leaf

Elizabeth Kupferman is a counselor in Southlake, Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth area) dedicated to helping women overcome depression, grief, and anxiety so they can find happiness and achieve their dreams.

Creative Commons License "The Phoenix Lights Herself on Fire" by Elizabeth Kupferman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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