Embrace Your Darkness to Shine Brightly

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.

Billy and the Denver Rescue Mission.

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,

Celebrating Your Shadow Side

Although it may seem counterintuitive, it’s easier to find your bright white light when celebrating your shadow side.

So what is the Shadow Side?

Our shadow side is the aspect of our personality that we dislike.

How do I Discover My Shadow Side?

It’s pretty simple because you can see it in others quite easily. It’s their behavior that pushes your buttons.

A Dual Example of Shadow Side

I recently attended an in-person three-day Reiki III class with twenty-four participants. Since this was my fourth class, my teacher and I know each other.

When asked if we had anything to share with the course on the second day, I mentioned my difficulty hearing some other participants during their sharing opportunities, elaborating for one to two minutes. Immediately, my fellow hard-of-hearing neighbors thanked me. Soon after, during the lecture portion, the teacher discussed distraction, noting that there were too many words in the world.

As an illustration, he looked at me and said, “I don’t mean to single you out, but when you told your story about your hearing, it would have been better to address the problem directly. For example, you could have said, “Could you speak up? I can’t hear you.”

My eyes widened, and I exclaimed, “But I’m a writer.”

The Shadow Side of Judgment

Although I can’t speak to why the instructor singled me out, I can discuss my reaction to it.

As his words stung my ego, my defense was an immediate retort. But, at that moment, only two people were in the room. And I felt deeply hurt.

Soon, the moment’s reality became focused as I felt the downpour of shame, then a low, simmering anger. In typical fashion, I placed the rage in a box that sat on my shoulder. Instead, I focused on Deb, my partner, during an exercise to expand our energy.

It didn’t take long, and my attention returned to the hurt I felt. As we dispersed to find options for lunch, I looked for someone to validate my anger.

Two women sat chatting across the room. As I approached, they looked up, and we exchanged pleasantries. Then, calmly, I expressed how I felt about being singled out, asking their opinion. Although they were compassionate, they said it was probably best to let it go.

Let it Go

How many times have you heard these words? Did they help you let it go, or did they fuel your anger?

Until recently, for me, they were triggers. Now, I listen differently by distancing myself from the communication interchange. From this viewpoint, I see the compassion in ‘let it go.’ Then I can receive that compassion and start to let go of the hurt.

Parting Thoughts and the Precepts

When the actions of others push your buttons, consider taking a different viewpoint by being an observer. Now you can start celebrating your shadow side and their shadow side with love and compassion. Furthermore, to anchor yourself, consider saying these Reiki Precepts each morning and throughout the day.

For today only,
Do not anger,
Do not worry,
Be true to your way and being,
Be compassionate to yourself and others.

From a place of love and compassion,

How to be a Hero in Four Easy Steps

What do you think makes a hero? Is it someone who risks their life to save another? What if it’s their job to risk their life to save others – are they still a hero? How about the person who shows compassion in a smile to a dirty, disheveled, homeless man. Are they a hero? Do you have to be a hero to one person or many to qualify?

The Requirement to be a Hero, in a Single Word

Compassion. All heroes have compassion. This quality could be innate, a natural personality characteristic. Or it might be something they desired to have and they worked on it. Do you have compassion? Is it reserved for those you know and love?

How Hard is it to be a Hero?

The average person probably believes they are incapable of earning the title, ‘Hero’. Yet, I know how easy it can be. In addition to compassion, the hero knows how to observe and identify pain or need in others. It is easier to see the need in those close to you. After all, you know them so well. Perhaps you want to expand your ability to show compassion outside those you know. How do you do that?

Picture a Fictional Character Who Needs Help

You’ve probably been struck by a character in a book or a film who needs saving, redemption, or a little compassion. Let’s play with that idea.

Close your eyes and imagine a thin, young woman sitting alone at a table in an outdoor café. You are a few tables away. All the other tables outside are empty. You are watching her with no real feeling attached. She is staring into her steaming cup of coffee. Now imagine that she is thinking about her loving grandmother who passed away exactly one year ago. The two of them enjoyed many cups of coffee at the same table the months before her passing. She looks up. A smile broadens your own face as you remember happy times with your own grandmother. You naturally have sadness, but also love and compassion for yourself. As your eyes lock with the stranger, that love and compassion is an energy that naturally flows between the two of you. Her eyes brighten just a bit. The corner of her mouth starts to lift, ever so little. Your own smile responds.

“Good Morning. Lovely day, isn’t it?” She nods slowly.

That is being a hero, changing someone’s life for the better, if only for a moment. There is no expectation of a reward for the hero. Knowing someone else is better off is all they need. You don’t know how this moment will continue to unfold for her. But it is a fact that positive energy will affect others in a positive way.

How Can You Build Compassion for Others?

There are many ways to deepen empathy that are particular to your personality and how you see the world. One way that really helps is seeing a situation from a perspective that is foreign to you. Try walking a mile in their shoes. My mother used this euphemism many times when I was a child and it made an impression on me, perhaps because I already had an empathetic personality.

A Real Life Example

I was a stay-at-home mom when my two sons were in elementary school. Their best friends’ moms both worked. We all lived in a rural area on a lake with woods nearby, a wonderful place for them to play. After spending hours building forts and staging battles, the boys would get thirsty and head home for refreshments. The working moms didn’t allow them in the house, even once they came home from work. The kids would have to wait for their mom to bring water or else drink from the garden hose outside. Their homes were kept neat and clean in anticipation of anyone stopping by. My philosophy was quite different. I’d clean once a week, giving most of my attention to my kids, to cooking, and to the kitchen garden. For me, a little dirt from the shoes of the neighborhood boys on my carpet was a natural consequence of living in the country in rural Florida. They were always welcome inside any part of my home.

Twenty-five years later, Tad, one of the neighborhood boys, told me how much he appreciated the welcome I extended to him and his brothers. He said I was a kind of hero to them, because that wasn’t what they experienced anywhere else.

How did I come to feel that it was okay for them to possibly dirty up my floors? I simply imagined how thirsty they must be. It was also a top priority for me to stay connected with my kids, to be part of their world. So I thought, “It’s just a little dirt.”

I simply tuned into how they were feeling at the moment (hot and sweaty!) and reminded myself of how I felt as a kid. I responded in a way I myself would have appreciated.

Four Steps to Being a Hero

Become a people-watcher, keenly observing people and situations around you.
Imagine yourself in the same condition – that is, ‘Walk a Mile in Their Shoes’.
Feel what you felt in a similar situation in the past, or imagine what you might feel under similar circumstances.
Respond in a way that feels genuine, doable, and meets your own need to care for yourself

It’s really that simple. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin below. If you’d like to receive my newsletter, which comes out about twice a month, you can sign up here.