Sunday, November 1, 2020

When your inner guide is an ugly dwarf

I have a friend who has held high office in the Swedish government, a man deeply versed in both the humanities and science who has attended Nobel Prize dinners under the three crowns of Stockholm’s town hall.
   He hosted me for dinner one night. Within moment of being seated at a table in a fine restaurant, I noticed I had  beer, red wine and akvavit in front of me, before I had asked for anything. "You are in Scandinavia, Robert," my host declared. "You will drink like a Scandinavian."
    That night he confided, “I have an inner guide who has helped me greatly, in and out of government service. He turns up in my dreams and fantasies. He is a horrible, ugly dwarf. He always begins by insulting me, using filthy language. You miserable piece of shit, he’ll begin. Then he’ll proceed to tell me all the reasons I’m a failure. When he’s satisfied that he’s hit home, and I’m starting to fill with self-loathing, he’ll tell me something useful. He gave me the location of a legal document that had gone missing. I found it exactly where he said it would be, and that resolved an important family matter.”
   “How reliable is your ugly dwarf?”
   “He is eighty percent reliable. Better than most advisers. So I put up with his insults.”
   I was delighted with this revelation, which sounded like something from Scandinavian folklore. It also occurred to me that there are the elements of a practice here that can be very helpful for all of us on our road to manifesting our life dreams.
    Each of us has an ugly dwarf inside us. You’ve heard his voice. It’s the one that’s forever reminding you of your failures and shortcomings. He knows your every weakness. He won’t let you forget how you let yourself or others down. Let him vent for long enough, and you’ll squirm with self-loathing. And this can become a moment of power. Let your ugly dwarf pull you down far enough, and you may find yourself bouncing up with fresh ideas and new vigor. Why? Because there is energy in all strong emotions, including the ones we tag as “negative” and that a certain kind of self-help book advises us to avoid.
   Let your ugly dwarf beat you down, break you down, and rattle you out of the need to maintain pretenses and defenses. Then move with the energy of the emotions this releases. But don’t put up with someone in your social environment who tries to play ugly dwarf; accept no substitutes for your very own version.

Drawing by RM


  1. Love the art! Also, that bit of Swedish folklore is truly fascinating!

  2. What a great blog article and drawing Robert. I love this story and the interaction of between the dreamer and the guide and how useful the ugly dwarf is in your friends life. I especially appreciate that he pays so much attention to his dreams.

  3. Your storytelling is wonderful. This is just what I needed to contemplate today and you've made your point with such ease and lightness.