Stop the Cycle.  Don’t Catch the Hot Coal.

One way to think about how we get hooked into unconscious dynamics with others is to imagine that negative words and actions are like hot coals.

We already know that when we are lost in an Old Story, and being ruled by our Egos, we are always on the look out for a target. 

Imagine that we carry around a supply of hot coals that we are in a habit of tossing at others when we are seeking the target.  These hot coals can represent harsh words, unloving actions, even unpleasant thoughts and vibes.

When some kind of fear or vulnerability fuels our Ego, our Wounded Self takes out a hot coal and throws it over at whomever has been deemed the target in the moment.

As the target, our instinct when someone throws the coal in our direction, is to catch it, despite the danger of doingso.  Over a lifetime of this routine, we have become programmed to catch it with our bare hands. 

Not surprisingly, when we do, the heat of the smoldering coal burns our skin, causes pain, and consequently triggers our Ego which is now also looking for a target…

With burning coal in hand, the natural reaction of the target person is to throw it back.  “You hurt me; now I hurt you…”

And so it goes.  You can imagine how this dynamic can perpetuate itself indefinitely.

Each of us, afraid, vulnerable…and in so much pain, unaware that this pain is self-inflicted and can easily be soothed, if not completely avoided.

Even more significantly, the negative energy of this system continues to fuel itself, like a battery recharging while the car’s ignition is on.  The coals get hotter, the heat gets more intense and the pain turns into unbearable suffering.

Is this a routine we want to maintain?

There is a way to disrupt this cycle of insanity and torture

With awareness of the dynamics of this system, we can make a few much more conscious choices about responding from our Adult Essence Self instead of reacting from our Wounded Ego Self.

So, this time when someone throws a hot coal at me; and although I see it coming my body is still on autopilot so my hand spontaneously reaches out and grabs the coal. 

It hurts.

That’s ok.  I am learning and I am practicing.

At this point, because I now know to pause and give myself a moment to observe, I can make a mindful decision about how I want to proceed next.

First conscious choice to take a new Action:  I choose to drop the coal. 

It falls to the floor. 

It is no longer burning my skin.


Now that it is on the floor, it means my partner in this dance will be much less tempted to grab it since I did not invite them to by lobbing it back over.

Already the energy of the system has de-escalated.

More and more, I practice dropping the coal every time I instinctively catch it.

Soon, I have enough presence of mind that when the coal is headed my way, I see it coming, and while I can feel my hand about to reach, instead, I step back away from the coal and it whizzes past me and lands on the ground beyond any danger of harming me.

I don’t get scorched.

The heat of the coal burns it to ash as it cools and blows away in the breeze.

My partner is now left with their own space to reflect.

Perhaps they will pick up another coal and haul it at me full force…

On the other hand, with the bit of space I have created by not reacting, perhaps they might instead have a moment to reflect for themselves.

Perhaps they might recognize the choice they have as well.

And even if they don’t, I have found a way to step out of the cycle of this Old Story; a dance that I now can acknowledge is self-defeating and blocks my growth.

Right now, let us hold an intention to look for the hot coals being strewn about in our direction, as well as those we are tempted to fling over at others.

Let us hold an intention to gently notice our impulse to catch the coal and get sucked into the dynamic…

Let us hold an intention to choose to drop it when we do…and to let it pass right by when we have the presence of mind to stand firm in our Adult Selves.

Feel how different it is when your feet are firmly planted in Essence energy, and you watch those coals fly right on by.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha


I am brilliant;

I am magnificent;

I am a being of Love and Light.

I am here to bring my Essence Self to every experience of my Life.

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