Do not fear the darkness of your life, for it allows your brightness to shine. This is the theme of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.
I was a prisoner of my own making, spending my life looking for acceptance and love from without rather than from within. This is where true love exists, only within ourselves.
Once we accept and fully acknowledge our love of ourselves, we can both give and receive love from others.
Furthermore, I wish to share with you one of the ways that I have come to discover who I am. It’s a simple reality that has allowed me to begin this new life journey as a complete soul.
Embrace Your Darkness to Shine Brightly
How many times have you felt the judgment of the actions of others creep into your mind?
Do you turn away from this behavior in yourself, willing it to stop?
Judgment is a good and wholesome activity if used properly. For example, we might walk into oncoming traffic while crossing a street without judgment. Or eat unwholesome food left too long in the refrigerator.
Employing judgment allows us to use our senses to keep us safe.
Judging the Acts of Others
Perhaps you think it can never be good to judge others. However, this is a valuable tool allowing us to peek into our psyche. When we dislike something in others, it’s often a reflection of our self-loathing.
So how can we come to grips with this darkness inside us? I have found a way to embrace my darkness to shine brightly through compassion.
Compassion is caring about something we might not feel warm and fuzzy about. And like all feelings, there is a certain amount of choice within us on how we think.
A Real Life Example
While working in Denver, Colorado, I took the train from Littleton Station. Then, getting off at Auraria, I walked the six blocks to my job at the Police Administration Building. On the way, I passed through the intersection at Speer and Colfax, which was notorious for panhandlers.
Drivers avoided eye contact by staring straight ahead or picking up their cell phones as if on a call. As a pedestrian, I felt vulnerable when waiting at a red light, and I often changed my pace or route to avoid standing near someone asking for money. If I was in a car, I often acted like most other motorists, staring at the stoplight to avoid eye contact.
When walking, I didn’t feel safe giving them money. But one summer morning, I was carrying a bouquet from my garden. It was impossible to make the green light as I approached the intersection. So, I impulsively offered the man who asked me for money a daisy instead. His entire demeanor changed as he asked me to wait. Finally, I watched him run to a hedge on the edge of a nearby fast-food restaurant where he had stowed his backpack.
Running back toward me, he carried a half-full plastic water bottle. I chose a couple of my nicest daisies and placed them into his makeshift vase as his face shone brightly with a huge smile. This simple act of compassion infused my day with a feeling of peace. And the memory is as fresh today as it was eighteen years ago.
How Compassion Affects Us
Do you think the drivers sitting in their cars on Colfax Ave dared to look our way as this gift of compassion and love was exchanged between us? If you were driving down Colfax, would it change how you judged this man? Would it change how you saw the gray-haired woman walking with the hand-picked flowers? Would it change how you interacted with people in your workplace or your family members?
Most importantly, would you feel better about yourself?
When you embrace your darkness to shine brightly, it’s easier to open the door to self-compassion. For example, after giving the gift of my beloved flowers, it was easier to accept my judgment and to open up to the humanity of others.
With love and compassion,