Being A Whisperer:
Gentleness Over Force
by Jennifer Paros
experience of stress doesn’t come from life pushing on you - it
comes from you pushing back.
used to be that when a fly entered our bedroom and we were ready to
go to sleep, my husband leapt to his feet, grabbed a hand towel, and
went after it. He had a technique, he claimed, a way of whipping
that towel that yielded results. Often, it was true and Man did
triumph over Fly.
still, I always sighed when the process began - not because I
was unperturbed by the buzzing and zooming but because there seemed
something frantic about attempting to put an end to it.
Putting an end
to things that bother us appears to be a good and necessary idea.
After all, we don’t want to passively live with what we don’t want.
But the “War On!” mentality can lead to exaggerated effort, a
lot of reacting, and general aggravation.
one day, my husband found that if he darkened the room and opened
the door, the fly flew towards the light and in doing so, left – a
solution that required virtually no effort.
writing, avoiding fly chasing type effort in favor of a
gentler approach can open the door to happier writing sessions, new
discovery, and quicker resolution of feeling stuck and confused.
The desperation of fixation - trying to fix something, get it, solve
it - blinds us to what could work and binds our
attention to what’s not working.
Recently, my oldest son and I had an exchange that went like this:
“Everything works itself out.”
“Do you have to be in a particular frame of mind - will it work out
even if you’re worrying?”
“Well, it’ll be unhappy for you if you’re worrying but it’ll
still work out - you just won’t notice.”
Everything works itself out
is a challenging concept; it seems like there is often need for
intervention, times when things just won’t or can’t possibly work
out without us doing something. But the value in my son’s
observation isn’t in sparking debate over whether or not to take
action; it is in an awareness of whether or not action is taken from
a place of trust in the process of life. In gentleness and
Illustration by Jennifer Paros - Copyright 2012
trust, the intelligence of life is given opportunity to come
forward - at which point we are working with our true nature
rather than against ourselves.
When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to
break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.
-- Saint Francis de Sales
Cesar Millan’s Be The Pack Leader, he documents his
therapeutic work with a dog, Banjo, who spent his life in an animal
testing lab and was terrified of people.
Rather than insisting Banjo receive his attention, Cesar avoided
petting the dog or making eye contact. By turning his back to him,
the dog was allowed to discover, approach, and trust a person
through his own instinct. Because Banjo was a Coon Hound and his
breed’s historical link was with hunting, Cesar also set down a
trail of raccoon urine. Quickly, the dog sniffed and
followed the trail. With these approaches, Cesar helped awaken
Banjo to memory of himself and his purpose, to the life
inherent in being a dog – one he’d forgotten. Gradually the dog
improved in his relationships with people because his relationship
to his true nature had been reinstated.
Millan calls himself a dog whisperer because he attunes to
the spirit of the dog and gently speaks to that. He doesn’t
force the retraining of surface expressions; he looks to reawaken
the animal to its authentic nature – a nature that naturally knows
what to do. A writing whisperer knows the same
sort of awakening can create growth and vitality in his work. He
recognizes the inherent difficulty in using force of mind to direct
the work to behave. Instead, he looks to his own true nature
and the essence of the piece and strives to work with that
creative energy, rather than to control it.
we take a gentle approach to our work or any life situation, we
allow a gradual, slow, soft progression. We give ourselves the
opportunity to see more - not hurry through or force
anything. And in so doing, the natural intelligence of life and
creativity gets the chance to come through and help. Being a
Whisperer means giving life the chance to help us by gently calling
forth an awareness of purpose and value that both reconnects and
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Jennifer Paros is a writer,
illustrator, and author of
Violet Bing and the Grand House
(Viking, 2007). She lives in Seattle.
Please visit her website at