Self-Inquiry – The True Self-Help

By Paul C Pritchard on Wednesday August 5th, 2020


Seeing and Appreciating My Inner Angel

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. –  Michelangelo

I was once given a great tip when I told a dear friend I was going to see a counsellor about a certain issue I was dealing with in my life. It was clear and sound advice that I have never forgotten. She said to me, “Often counselling or therapy can be expensive. You should get really clear before your session on what you need help with. Most people don’t prepare before a session and expect all the ‘magic’ to happen in those fifty minutes. If you really want value and swift realisations and results, do your self-inquiry work before you go in.”

Of course, I didn’t have much clue as to what she was talking about until I was well into my third session. Then I understood that a lot of my time in the sessions were spent giving context, in essence, I was just regurgitating the he said she said story. It wasn’t until session four that we really hit what my therapist called a core woundthe nuts and bolts of the issue. The kryptonite of the problem. 

I didn’t know how to help myself fast-track this process. I didn’t have the tools to start this process of self-inquiry. I called her and asked for some guidance. She kindly revealed what she does a good few days before each session with her therapist. She gave me four keys to truly help me –

  1. You don’t need fixing. You’re perfect just as you are. You pursue self-inquiry and therapy like a great sculptor. You start with a large granite stone. You know the angel is in there. You just have to chip away at what’s protecting it. Then you can arrive and stand proud … all your beautiful qualities radiating in the light. Get fascinated in uncovering the angel inside: not what’s protecting it. 
  2. In order to take full responsibility for your inner-harmony, you need to take this seriously. Being self-responsible in your actions takes commitment. Are you willing to do the work? 
  3. Give up the need to be right.
  4. Don’t ask if you are selfish, greedy, jealous, insensitive etc. These are all qualities of the human condition. You are comprised of all of them. The more self-satisfying questions are; When and how am I selfish? When and how am I greedy (jealous, insensitive etc).
Alt text hereGet fascinated in uncovering the angel inside: not what’s protecting it. Image: Rainier Ridao

I was not deterred by these keys. In some ways, they excited me. I felt I had heard truth and clarity from my friend. I also noticed that she was the one friend who I had never argued with. She had clear boundaries and I always felt I could trust her integrity of word. When I thought about it, she was the one friend that seemed to never have any issues with anyone. Now this got me curious. Someone who practised what she preached.

Opening the Doors

Key 1 for sure made me feel safe and even a little warm and fuzzy. It was the perfect entry point for me. I was always busy trying to fix myself. Seeing what’s wrong in myself and others. Previously I’d told myself that I wasn’t going to waste my time and money talking about everything that was working in my life and how great I was at this, that and the other. But this key shifted my acute focus. Focussing on what’s wrong was like strapping a ball and chain to my leg with the problem etched on it. I was giving myself a slow start. Just changing my mindset to think about getting to that angel made me feel a whole lot lighter. 

I looked at key 2 and I felt tired of my old ways. I felt done with how I kept showing up in life in the same old way and getting the same old stale results. I made a promise to myself there and then to ramp this up a notch. To make a solid commitment to take this seriously. To take full responsibility for my behaviours in thoughts and deeds. I said loud and proud, YES, I am willing to work hard for this. I felt this strange unsettling in my stomach. As if I had hired a witness to keep me in check. A guardian angel who would keep me accountable. And in short, I had. This felt exhilarating and scary because all my excuses and victim behaviour were threatened. Then there was a knot in my stomach when I realised that I would truly have to show up, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Key 3 felt like a puzzle. I kept saying it over and over again. “Give up the need to be right.” It was as if a warehouse of argumentative fireworks had gone off in my head. There were a hundred or more voices all taking a stance here, or there, or opposite, or aligning with, praising me, pulling me down. And in the end, I burst out laughing at the final chorus of those voices who sang out, “You are not always right … but hell, you are never wrong.” It landed somewhere within me deep inside. It’s the need to be right that causes all the trouble. Not being right or wrong. It’s the need that would show me all the answers. The tension and liberation in that dynamic. It was the core wound of the, he said she said story. I took a deep breath out and realised so many things. I had been ridiculed as a child for getting things wrong. It was part of the culture I grew up in. It was encouraged more by the men – to try and toughen me up for a hard world. But for me, it was crushing. It kept me small and unadventurous. I chose to stay safe, play safe, in all the arenas where I knew I was right. Or rather, in all the arenas where I would not have to feel humiliation. I stopped taking risks. I stopped growing. This realisation knocked me sideways and simultaneously I felt that if I kept unravelling this key, I would find liberation. 

Alt text hereChildhood conditioning had led to keeping myself small and safe. Image: Rodrigo Pereira

Key 4 was scary for me. I did not want to see myself as anything but good. Sure, I needed some rough edges rounded off but on the whole, I was a good person. A valued and admired member of my community. I was generally well-liked and included. I spoke to my friend about this. And she said, ‘Then what do you need my help or a therapist’s help for? I’m pretty sure I blushed. She continued, “I’m serious, tell me!” I confessed, “I have so much complaint inside of me about pretty much everything and everyone. Sometimes it’s just so small it’s hardly worth mentioning and the complaint subsides quickly. But sometimes there are full-blown arguments or imaginary fights that go on for days, sometimes even longer.” Then she asked the golden question, “And how does that make you feel?” For me it was clear, I felt ashamed. And I couldn’t get past that. Her eyes lit up like Catherine Wheels and she said, “Bingo! There’s one of your core wounds you can take to therapy – Shame.” 

So that is what I did. I went to my next session with no story or great dramatic drama of what had just happened in my life. I sat there with my willingness to be right or wrong and with my self-compassion while looking for my angel inside. But most of all, I lead with my humility in knowing I was capable of all aspects of the human condition – the good, the bad and the ugly. Starting from this place, by telling the truth to myself, about myself and having that witnessed, made me feel that I had a chance. A chance to see and cherish my own angel. A chance to see and cherish the angels in others. A chance to stop believing I was broken.

The greatest artist has no conception which a single block of white marble does not potentially contain within its mass, but only a hand obedient to the mind can penetrate to this image. – Michelangelo



Let us know how and when your angel shines. Let us know when you can see the angel in another even when they’ve forgotten who they truly are. Let us know if these keys can help you when you’re struggling to see yourself as whole and born of the one true light. Let us know that you can feel our love. 

We appreciate your love so very much.

Paul and Team UPLIFT 




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8 Responses to Self-Inquiry – The True Self-Help

    • So glad you enjoyed it Constanza … Slow is very good, especially in this crazy sped up time 🙂 Much love Paul and Team UPLIFT

  1. Thanks for this fabulous article. I could so relate to the tethering oneself to a ball and chain focusing on my short comings always trying to fix what was wrong with me. Also like you and many others I was deeply shamed and humiliated as a child and have kept myself small and invisible as a consequence (stagnant) but I am happy to say that I am finally accepting and loving myself as I am and committing to showing up and speaking up.
    Blessings Uta

    • May we all accept and love each other as we truly are … polishing the prickly ego structures that cause us pain. I am standing tall with you. Much love Paul and Team UPLIFT x

  2. Haha! This is good! Most counsellors/therapists arent quite so Clear…
    I am very aware about my own Goodness, -it is akin to Sensitivity in a way, ultiamtely they are the Same thing: it has been so obvious since a young boy; I am not ashamed of it, but I tried to hide it when younger, being a ‘cool teenager’ or haha trying to be one…
    But I am aslo interested in the Shadow sides and the sides that aren’t like that – lots… Even if everything is ultiamtely from Being, which is Love, Life is Interesting with these…

    I am very much a ‘Humanistic’ person – Rogers and MaSlow haven’t taught me so much as -whatever they articulate – is true for me. ‘Humanisticness’ comprises ~
    -we all have an incredible potential in our being already;
    -we are also unique -and this is just not because we have body-minds that are literally ‘unique’, but that way the true Spirit or Self intefaces with that – this is maybe one view of ‘soul’ and/or real ‘Individuality’ (which is nothing to do with ‘ego’, but comes form ‘essence’ within us)…
    -But also how we are most awake/conscious -or alive or Present when we are Whole -i.e. that when our mind is alive and free and connected with our presecne, that is one good thing; when our heart is also liken this and WITH the mind, integrated witht it, this is much better (this is self-actualising, being-what-we-are-meant-to-be, and life is much more ‘LIFE’, so much more meaningful then! And of course the body/instinct/gut-level as well bein present (ALan Watts and G.I. Gurdjieff imply that we are basically in Nirvana when all three are integrated and Present..)

    I suppose for me – It all depends on how alive free and awake our inside heart, mind and essential natures are! Then life can be our Guide, we are being ourselves and going towars even more Being and POtential; and we can be a guide for some when like this…

    Attitude is one way to get, to remind us of these…
    Attitude is the only thing that is free, unconditioned in every human; the only bit of ‘free will’ we have – to use a bad term for it, (I would prefer ‘responsibility’ and ‘caring about the quality of life, more than ‘free will’) and it makes all the difference.
    We all know what we mean! The good or living attitude is…: open-to-life/reality (open-minded potentially); is curious or interested in life; is not a dick (cruel, shallow, unwholesome); is not too attached to ego, but realises there is something much more important in Life and Identity than that. Right attitude is aliveness but it is impossible to write down what it is in words. That’s why I say ‘we all (more or less) know it, unless we are so closed, like Trump, for example); yet we all need helpful reminders; friends can help with this 🙂
    Attitude is not a bad mood (that is a feeling that has its own reasons, conditions for being here); attitude is not negative-thinking (that is similar); but it is something we can always shift in the moment! (If we care!). But it can have a bearing on subsequent thoughts and feelings and experiencing…but -most importantly our destiny!
    Sorry beginning to ramble now 🙂

    • So much wisdom in your ramble … I am so glad you shared with us all. Much love to you brother. Paul and Team UPLIFT

  3. Dear Paul, thanks for another piece of wonderful writing and thanks for sharing all these deep yet meaningful thoughts with us on this platform. I read word to word in this article and I could resonate so much because this is exactly what I am going through internally at the moment. I was constantly judging myself from all different angles, I was beating myself up for being not good enough, I was always comparing myself with others, often I found myself deeply wounded because of the self-injury. Yesterday I was also thinking about getting professional help namely a therapist or counsellor. I felt maybe I need to explain my “problems” to them so I can be fixed somehow Then real questions pop up: what are my problems? Do I even have a problem? Why do I think I have problems? What exactly is bothering me and why am I bothered so much? I do think we do need to do self analysis before we go in to see a professional. It helps us to know what we want to achieve at the end of each session or at the end of this whole exploratory journey. Too many people do not know what they are looking for from their therapists, often they find themselves going for session after session, years after years. I am someone that is results orientated. I acknowledge if I need help I will ensure I do my due diligence then my therapist and I work collaboratively to ensure we achieve the common goal.

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