Getting Out of the Swamp of Your Life

Do you ever feel stuck in your life?  Do you find that no matter what you do, you just seem to find yourself back in the swamp of your life, stuck again?  What to do?  Integral Deep Listening sees the solution in terms of getting in touch with resources that aren’t stuck where we are.  We can use them to pull us out of our swamp.

In the above picture, we may assume that the boy is helping his stuck horse.  But what if it’s the other way around?  What if the horse has come to help the boy get unstruck?  That’s the situation that we find in this interview, in which a kind and intelligent businessman lacks the confidence to cold call potential business clients.

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1 Fear of initial contact with unknown clients.

2 Solve financial problems.

3 Vacation!

Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

The first!

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

It’s fear!  A feeling in my chest of tension. When you mentioned doing this interview it came up.  It’s a feeling of dizziness, numbness, of blockage in my head. Dark blue!

Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

A horse with a white rim around the mane!  It’s dark blue.

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Horse, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I’m standing in front of him, blocking him!  I’m standing sideways, facing to his left.

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

I like my beautiful looks.  I like my white mane.  I am quite a stout horse.  I’m more of a working horse, strong and big.  But I am well taken care of.  I am well taken care of and my fur shines!

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

I don’t like feeling I’m stuck here, stuck to the ground!

Why can’t you gallop off to graze?

It looks as if I’m standing in a swamp and ahead there’s a lake.

You would like to go to the lake or turn around and go the other way or what?

Past the lake is a meadow.  I’d like to get into the woods beyond that.

I usually think of horses as preferring meadows.  Why the woods?

I don’t want to get into the woods but at the edge of it in the meadow.

Horse, you are in Tony’s life experience, correct?  He created you, right? What aspect of Tony do you represent or most closely personify?

I represent his desires, what he wants to be, his aims, his goals.  I represent his desire for me to change.

But we don’t care what he wants!  Do you want to change?

Yes, I want to be brown!

Horse, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

You can change color, go to the meadow, or stay where you are.

I would change quite a few things!  I am white now!  Smaller but thinner.  I’m not looking across the lake toward the woods.  I’m looking left, past the lake, onto the meadow.

Are you still standing in front of Tony?

No.  I don’t see Tony.  He must be somewhere behind me.

What are you doing?

I’m looking around in this meadow.  I see grass and lots of wild little flowers and herbs.  I keep moving my head and I keep walking.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Horse, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence:   5 I’m just here as if I was feeling good where I am but also not ready to make a major change.  I’m neither very afraid nor totally unafraid.

Compassion:   8 I feel good where I am.  I love my environment!

Wisdom:   7

Acceptance:   8

Inner Peace:   7

Witnessing:   7 I can observe the dramas of others but I don’t get so caught up in them.

Horse, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

I cannot imagine having it change at all!  I don’t think I could feel good with that!  If I had a ten all I would feel that everyone was staring at me and I was the center of attraction!

What’s wrong with that!

It’s very unusual!

What’s wrong with that?

There’s nothing wrong with it but it’s not what I’m aiming for.

So you don’t want a ten in those qualities, horse?

No, quite on the contrary, I don’t want to be afraid of anything.  I also want to have deep inner peace.  It would be nice to be tens in all some times.

What if you could switch back and forth between those?

No.  That’s imaginary!

What’s wrong with feeling those ways only when you want to?

I would love to have consistency…I could do that as soon as I join a group of horses.

Do you want to join a group of horses or not?

At the moment I see myself as an alone horse, but at times it would be good to be with a group of horses.

Would you like to do both?

There’s no group of horses to be seen!

So you would rather stay where you are than go where a group of horses are?

I see a fence and a building.  Behind that fence I can see other horses in the far distance.

You could neigh and tell them that you are there…

They can see me!

Is that enough for now, or do you want to have more contact with them?

I want to get a bit closer, peek over the fence, and see what’s going on…Nice farm with big, huge trees, and hey!  There’s hay!  Food!  It’s almost like a farm you see in old paintings.  A brick farmhouse and left and right there are horses!  There are big brown horses with long manes!

How do you feel now, Horse?

I feel very curious.  That gate is open over there!  I think I shall have a look around on this farm…

So why don’t you have a look around and tell us what you see?

The horses are still looking at me. Behind the house are the woods.  You can’t continue there.  The farm feels good.  Nothing to be afraid of…

How do you feel now, Horse?

There’s little tension now.  There’s a bit of excitement!

How would Tony’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

Maybe he would find it a little easier to approach others, but not a big difference.  He might find it easier to get going, to move…

Do you feel like you’ve abandoned your job of blocking Tony?

I must admit I totally forgot about him!  It doesn’t bother me!

If you could live Tony’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

I wouldn’t be stuck in the swamps for such a long time!  It’s not beautiful and doesn’t bring anything good.

What was your secret for getting out of the swamps, horse?

I looked at the beauty of my surroundings. I looked at the beauty.  I set myself goals and started walking there…I would try to get more contact with the other horses…

So why don’t you try that right now, horse, and tell us how that is for you?

I think they are hiding behind the house…Maybe I should go around the corner and have a look…I am peeping around the house now…I can see a pile of manure but there is also food! The other horses are eating!  I’m getting hungry!  They don’t even notice me!  They aren’t looking at me!  I can look at them.  I see their butts as they’re eating.  I just mingle with them.   One of them looks at me a bit funny but I don’t care.  It doesn’t do me any harm.  There is juicy fruit, not just dry hay…parsnips!

How would you score yourself 0-10 in those six core qualities now, horse?

Confidence: 8

Compassion: 8

Wisdom: 8

Acceptance: 8

Inner Peace 7

Witnessing: 9

How would Tony’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

He would be far more relaxed and he would definitely feel much better!

If you could live Tony’s waking life for him today, would you handle Tony’s three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1 Fear of initial contact with unknown clients: I wouldn’t think so much.  I’d just call off my list.  That’s how he would reach his goals!  He stops himself by thinking too much and doing too little!

2 Solve financial problems: I would do as much as I could to get out of them.

3 Vacations! I think it’s good to get out of your tracks and see the world from different perspectives.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Tony to imagine that he is you and act as you would?

It would help him to just join others and become a part of their groups just like I could join them eating!

Horse, do you do drama?  If not, why not?

Because if I did that I never would get enough to eat!

What is your secret for staying out of drama?

I observe, I analyze a situation.  I think, “Aha, there is something in that for me and then I carefully start walking, peep around the corner, and analyze whether I have a good chance of getting something to eat and then I go for it!

Why do you think that you are in Tony’s life?

I am something quite big and powerful that’s standing there in front of him.  Maybe that’s what he should concentrate on: something big and powerful that can set his goals and change his focus and then go for it.

So you’re a big and powerful part of Tony, yes?


It sounds like Tony has difficulty accepting that he has a big and beautiful part of himself that can move, be free, and get what it wants and be with like-minded creatures.


How is Tony most likely to ignore what you are saying to him?

By drawing back inside himself again and again.  By not acting enough.

What would you recommend that he do about that?

Act more!  It’s necessary!

Will you continue to be there for Tony?


Tony, what have you heard yourself say?

The horse said, “Look around.  Don’t just stare in one direction!  When you see something you want, start walking and get out of the swamp!  Mingle and join others!  Find your place among them!

Don’t let yourself be scared off by fences.  If you look properly you’ll find a gate or some opening.  It’s not as difficult as you think to overcome a barrier.  Just because you see something that’s blocking you doesn’t mean you can’t get around it.

While I was eating it occurs to me that you have to go for it and eat.  Just because there are others already eating, you can still get some!

I was very aware of the change from the first horse to a more handsome horse.  It did make a difference in how I felt.

I’ve had feedback a lot of times that from my appearance I should have it easy in contacting people.  It also occurred to me that I find it easier to physically contact people than to talk to them on the phone.

Others: I got how much the horse emanates a type of self-confidence, maybe pride, by nature.  Just by being like that you already have an effect.  It just emanates that self-confidence and strength!

The horse, when it walked onto the farm said it is excited, which is a very different feeling from being afraid.

If you move toward what is beautiful and pleasant and toward the company of like-minded individuals, you will find the abundance that you are seeking.

If this experience were a wake-up call from the most central part of yourself, what do you think it would be saying to you?

Get going!  Get marching!

Leave a Comment

For more information, contact While IDL does not accept advertising or sponsored postings, we gratefully accept donations of your time, expertise, or financial support.