Sometimes we find it so much easier to give love and compassion to others that we can’t even see the darkness inside of ourselves. As long as we are projecting outward, we don’t have to take a look inside.
I’ve also learned that there is a strange comfort in the shadows…because we know them well.
I believe this comes from our domestication in this world.
We certainly weren’t born this way.
We were born 100% worthy. Full of love and light. Wonder and curiosity. All kinds of awareness. Taking in every detail of our surroundings and figuring out how this life is all supposed to work. How our bodies are supposed to work. How to walk, how to talk – then how to really communicate.
How to feel all of our feelings.
We knew all of these things when we were babies.
We found joy in the simplest things. Shiny objects, music, colors.
Babies are amazing, yes?
Remember that you were one once.
But we forget. We forget to be amazed at the world around us and most certainly with ourselves.
Because the shadows start to appear.
As we are taking in our surroundings, we start to learn that there are expectations for who we should be. From our parents, other family members, our friends, our school system, society as a whole.
All of these things slowly start to chip away at our very essence, and we are left…
But no longer from a place of curiosity.
No, we are now questioning from a place of judgement. We become critics. All of us do this, but especially girls and yes, I blame our society for this.
I should be thinner.
I should be prettier.
I should be more talented.
I should know better.
I should be better.
Falling lock step into that domestication.
And you start to slip into those shadows.
Now, highly spiritual beings aren’t afraid of shadow work…but that’s what they call it. It’s WORK. It’s not wallowing around in the muck of it.
It’s the deep exploration. What’s going on here? Why am I here? And they’ll be in no rush to get out of it because they know there’s a reason. There’s a higher purpose. There’s something of yourself to find in that darkness.
But the rest of us?
We just wallow.
It’s not that we love being in the shadows, but…there’s something comfortable in the sinking.
It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. That’s why I want to talk about this today. I think there are a lot of you listening that know exactly what I’m talking about. And some of you might be thinking I’ve gone into the land of woo, and that’s quite alright. You can think what you want! As if you need my permission to think. Ha! You certainly don’t.
I’m talking about self-loathing, my friends.
When you get into the depths of the muck and that’s what you find there, you come to the realization that you don’t even like yourself. Not even a little bit. It’s a soul crushing realization.
Now what? What the fuck am I supposed to do with this awareness?
I’ll tell you what a lot of us do. I’ll tell you what I’ve done.
Which makes perfect sense because our basic instinct is to avoid pain.
This is a deep, emotional pain, self-loathing – one of the most difficult ones of all to see in yourself.
I have tried ignoring it. I have tried wishing it away. I have tried screaming, I have tried therapy, I have tried drugs (both prescription and recreation), I have tried drowning in alcohol. I have tried changing my circumstances, I have tried shifting relationships, I have tried changing myself in the hopes that others would like me more.
I have curled up in a cocoon for days in my bed, trying to sleep it away, hoping all of that weighty ugliness will be gone when I wake up.
I have tried ALL THE THINGS.
Here’s what I now understand to be true.
You are simply having thoughts.
You’re not going to want to go there (where there is all of the darkness you’ve been trying to hide from) because it’s going to be ugly and it’s going to be painful. BUT…on the other side of pain is freedom. Freedom of whatever prison you’ve created for yourself and knowing that you ARE worthy. You ARE loved. You ARE amazing and wonderful and full of light.
And that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have moments. Knowing doesn’t mean you’ll never again feel pain or never again see darkness. For me, knowing simply means that I don’t have to stay there for long. I can coach myself out of it. I can differentiate between what my brain thinks is reality and what are simply thoughts that are being offered up. I don’t have to spend a lot of time on the self-critical ones anymore.
I’m not afraid of the dark shadows. If they present, I know there must be some work to do there. I feel like I say this a lot, and also that I can’t say it enough. Just because you crawl out of that hole, doesn’t mean your life is always going to be filled with rainbows and sunshine.
Yet I will reiterate that my time spent in the muck was necessary. No mud, no lotus.
Now I get to help others to see this too. That is a gift. My experience with the dark nights of the soul is a gift.
So when you find this part of yourself…when you have this realization that you HATE yourself, your first inclination is going to be either to beat yourself up for having those thoughts or to run. To avoid it entirely.
Because you’re afraid of what else you may find.
Here’s where you allow love to enter this journey. Here’s where you remember that you were born worthy, and if you need to visualize yourself as a perfect little baby, then do that. Because you were a baby at one time. If it feels like that’s the last time you were perfect, do what you need to do in order to generate some love for your SELF. You’re going to need it. That’s going to help you.
Fear and love cannot live in the same space.
Fear cannot thrive where love exists.
Love is stronger than fear.
The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is. – Baruch Spinoza
Be willing to love what is, and that starts within. When you can find that, everything else falls into place in time. I’m telling you…that is true.
And yes, I absolutely know it to be true.
This post is a partial transcript from my podcast, What Lights You Up – Episode 19. I invite you to enjoy the full episode and subscribe on Spotify or Apple!