The Dragon and the Princess … On Befriending Our Emotions


As I mentioned before, I will be sharing excerpts and quotes that have been helpful to me in rough patches. Feel free to share your own. This passage is from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I came across it in The Mindful Way Through Depression.

How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races–the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises before you larger than any you’ve ever seen, if an anxiety like light and cloud shadows moves over your hands and everything that you do. You must realize that something has happened to you; that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hands and will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depression? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you. –Rainer Maria Rilke

Photo credit: Stocksy

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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4 Responses
  1. Jennifer

    In the world of depression, anxiety and therapy, one of the key tenants when speaking to someone is never tell ppl how they should feel. I find it interesting that this article begins with “you should not be frightened.” I was unable to get past that to glean the importance of the message.

  2. Pat

    I needed this tonight as I struggle to recover from a strong case of shingles, a son who continues an estrangement AND th frightening outcome if this election. I am fighting years and a deep darkness

  3. joan wester anderson

    Hi, Therese. It’s been forever, and I kind of figured you might be changing your emphasis. But you still seem busy enough! I hae been coping with Parkinson’s, mainly, but i am on a great meds combination and feel fine. My big news is that WHERE ANGELS WALK, the first of my 8 angels/miracles books will celebrate its 25th anniversary in print. The first book will be entirely reprinted with about 1/4 of additional new material. I am wondering if you could find time to do a quick review? My editor at Loyola Press, Becca Russo, would be thrilled and I would look good! Becca can send you whatever you need.

  4. Doing What I Can

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote here from Rainer Maria Rilke. I found it almost 20 years ago and posted it on my bulletin board to be a reminder. That board was taken down when my spouse moved in with me. Thank you for reminding me of it.

    Some other quotes that help me through rough patches are as follows:

    1. “We must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

    2. “Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you’re free to live. You no longer care about your reputation. You no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically to promote a cause you believe in.” – Saul Alinsky

    3. “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”. – Eckhart Tolle

    4. “Technically, we all have a 0% chance of survival.”. – Rublius (I think this is the person’s screenname. I saw it on a post somewhere, but can’t remember where.

    I know some of the quotes are ominous, but sometimes reflecting on my death helps me to realize how short life is and to live it the best way I can, even in the midst of depression and sadness.