Sometimes authentic living doesn’t feel very shiny and bright. When darkness falls upon us, everything can seem frightening and lonely. For when we choose to look at the world through the eyes of light and love, those who are misguided by darkness and deception confound and deeply disturb us. But that is just as it should be.
Authenticity needs both darkness and light to be complete and enduring. Every truly authentic and inspiring person I can think of in the history of forever has faced great darkness and emerged from it stronger and wiser. Dark times help us ground into our strength and connect with our deepest convictions. They test us and keep us tender, compassionate and humble, enabling us to shine more brilliantly. The darkness can be an ally if we will allow it.
Today’s Forecast Calls For…
Stormy darkness with scattered sunny patches. Storms may include damaging attitudes, words and actions, and occasional feelings of dire hopelessness, so be sure to seek shelter as needed…
Lately it seems that darkness looms virtually everywhere we look. The news – all around the world! – is bad, sometimes so bad that it’s barely believable. There’s a lack of civility and courtesy online that’s deeply unsettling. And in our own communities, we’re often rushed and impatient with each other, if we even take the time to look up and notice one another. These times require tremendous strength, resiliency and tenacity.
Oh! But those beautiful sunny patches! A belly laugh with a friend. Birdsong. A warm embrace. Childhood innocence. Engaging conversation. Genuine kindness. Rainbows and sparkles. Selfless generosity. Hopeful possibility. Trust. An exciting new idea. The dawn of a new day. Flowers blossoms reminding us of the promise of rebirth and renewal.
Look for and bask in the warmth of those gorgeous sunny patches at every opportunity. They are God’s little reminders that we are loved and cherished. They will soothe your soul and fortify your spirit, giving you the strength and determination to weather these stormy times.
Why So Much Darkness?
I don’t know. I don’t know why there is so much darkness and why it is so loud, overbearing and angry. Or why it appropriates basic human values and manipulates them into twisted perversions and abhorrent lies of separation and otherness. And I don’t know why it insists on brazenly and unapologetically inflicting so much harm on humanity, Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
I Just. Don’t. Know.
But here is what I do know:
- God/Spirit/Creator is real.
- We are One, all deeply, inextricably and eternally connected to one another, to Mother Earth and to the cosmos.
- Together, we are capable of creating change. Together, we can move mountains.
- Our trials build our character and strength, making us capable of deeper love, greater courage, and unapologetic authenticity.
- We are resilient, both individually and collectively.
- It’s always darkest before the dawn.
- Love is the only truth, and therefore must prevail.
The darkness tests our commitment to love. We must be able to look it in the eye with defiant determination and tell it that it cannot and will not win on our watch. We are committed to love, to each other, and to creating a world in which future generations can thrive.
Thriving Through Trying Times
Those who know me personally know that I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for roughly five years now (and looking back, I suspect I’ve had it on again, off again, all my life). As such, I know the darkness well and have learned how to weather it’s storms. Here are a few of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Allow yourself time to adjust
When someone suddenly turns the lights off, we cannot see. Similarly, when dusk falls and daylight slowly turns into darkness, we may struggle to maintain clarity and focus. In the same way, when metaphorical darkness falls, it can take some time for our mind’s eye to adjust to the new light levels and see clearly. Be patient with yourself as this happens and give it time. You may encounter a great deal of emotional and spiritual resistance as this adjustment occurs, but the internal conflict will soon fall away and your vision will be restored.
In other words, you have understood the world in certain ways and lived in accordance with certain values and rules. You have likely assumed that others understood the world in the same way, acted accordingly, and wouldn’t violate certain principles that – to you – seem like fundamental rules of living. When people (particularly those with power and influence) cause you to question your assumptions, it can be extremely unsettling and frightening. You may find yourself questioning a lot of your core beliefs, your mental clarity and the fundamental goodness of the world around you. This hurts. Ease through it and give it time. You’re settling into a new way of understanding reality, learning how to reconcile your old ideas with what you’re now seeing and trying to understand. It will take time, but it will happen and you will emerge stronger and wiser.
Administer to your needs
If you’ve ever traveled on an commercial airline, you’ve heard the safety procedures instructing you to attend to your personal needs before attempting to assist any travel companions. Why? 1) Because you’re no good to anyone if you’re incapacitated and they – both the airline and your companions – need you to be fully present, aware and capable. And 2) because our instinctive response is to tend to our companions first.
When there’s so much going on and distress hangs thick in the air, self-care may seem a narcissistic frivolity. There’s work to be done and our loved ones still need our care and support. Self care tends to rank pretty low on our priority lists. Please believe me when I tell you – in no uncertain terms – it is neither narcissistic or frivolous and it must be a priority. A solid self care routine will keep you in good health, mentally emotionally, spiritually and physically. Self care prevents burn out, and fuels your mind, body and spirit for the journey ahead. It is vital always, and especially in times like these.
Added bonus: The young people in your world learn by your example. If you take good care of yourself, they will, in turn, learn to care for themselves too.
If you need some ideas or inspiration for your self care routine, take a peek at this post which is chock full of them.
Link arms with others
When darkness falls, we feel vulnerable. When we begin to question the ways in which we’ve come to understand the world, we feel vulnerable. And when we begin to work for change, we feel vulnerable too. Find a tribe – your tribe – of like minded women with whom you can share your journey. Love and appreciate them. Offer them your support when they are in need, and ask them for their support when you need sisters to lean on. Humans are social beings. We need authentic connection to feel safe, secure, confident and empowered. If you aren’t surrounded by the right people today, make it your intention to change that and then pay attention to the people you cross paths with and make a point of connecting with those you feel drawn to. Build a community that understands and supports each other in working for change. You need each other.
Open your heart to the lessons
Dark times become easier to endure if we can assign meaning to them. When you are open to receiving lessons and insight through your times in darkness, they will surface and make themselves know. And when we can attribute meaning to our pain, it becomes easier to endure.
If you are able, consciously open your heart to the lessons and ask for grace as they come to you. It won’t lighten your load, but it will make it easier to bear. And in the long run, they will make you more understanding, more insightful and more capable.
Connect to your purpose
The darkness can toss us around a lot, leaving us disoriented and confused. The best way to counter this in my experience, is to connect to your purpose. Purpose anchors us to a cause – generally something much bigger than ourselves – and keeps us focused, motivating us to keep going even when things seem darkest. Without purpose, it becomes far too easy to lose our sense of direction and end up feeling hopeless and disempowered.
If your not clear on what your purpose is, take some time to explore it. If it feels elusive, consider aligning yourself with a group that has a clear statement of purpose that resonates with you. Over time, as you pay attention to the things that make you feel most inspired, most accomplished, and most committed, your purpose will begin to emerge. Pay attention & honor it. This is the stuff that makes life meaningful!
Cultivate a bias for action
Action empowers us, inspires others, and tends to multiply. Conversely, inaction breeds discontent, disempowerement, and even depression.
Look for ways to participate in – or even organize! – events and actions that bring light to the the darkness. When you use your personal resources – time, talent, energy and finances – to intentionally create awareness of what you want and the bright future you can see, it shifts energy away from damning the darkness to creating light. Keep moving.
Look to the sun
Those patches of sunshine and warmth? Look for them wherever you go. Embrace and celebrate them. Take a brief break from whatever you’re involved in to fully and deeply experience them. (There’s a world of difference between seeing a child smile and a) quickly thinking “aw, isn’t that cute?” and b) letting everything else fall away for a just a moment so you can focus all of your attention and awareness on the beauty of that child’s fleeting smile.) Share sunny patches with others. Know how fortunate you are to have these moments and feel deeply grateful for them.
Believe in love
Above all else, always, all ways believe in love and let it lead you.
The darkness is so strong right now because so many people are operating from fear-based paradigms. They’re letting fear and greed cloud their vision and misguide their thoughts, words and actions. They somehow lost their way on life’s journey and haven’t been able (or perhaps willing) to find their way back.
The darkness and its minions will do their best to manipulate you into believing their lies and becoming ensnared in their web of fear and hate. But you are smarter, stronger and more determined. You ARE love and you are loved. Always remember, and always believe, and your thoughts words and actions will follow.
Probably more of the same. The current weather patterns are quite unfavorable and will be cause for concern for some time. But if we link arms and purposefully march forward together with love leading our way, we will be alright. And someday the weather patters will shift and the sun will shine brightly, unhindered, once again.