For a very long time we have been chasing the shadows of other people, without facing our own. We have lived for years with a yearning for escapism; diverting ourselves from the darkness that lives inside all of us, while criticizing other people for theirs, and sometimes actually idolising other people’s darkness as an angsty aesthetic. There’s a power struggle between one part of our ego and the other; there’s the part that turns it’s nose up at people facing their darkness and then there’s a part that thinks it’s trendy to try and achieve the public struggles of other people.
My own view of working with your shadow and facing the parts of yourself that you find flawed and unlovable, is that the greatest strength that we can embody comes from sitting with our darkness, in the eye of our own storm, until we find that calmness by forgiving ourselves for not allowing ourselves to be human; imperfect.
I try to be as open as I can about my own journey, and although for the most part I express that through written words, I find comfort in being vulnerable to some degree. I used to be such a closed book, and although some people might argue that I still am, I have actually come a long way with opening up to people about the challenges that I face. Just echoing the confession of being an openly gay, autistic man can draw the attention of bigoted, closed-minded people. But I don’t want that to dictate my words and actions.
We’re entering an era where cycles that no longer serve us are being broken and where we’re attempting to create a better future for generations young and old. However, in our attempt to create that future, we have skipped out facing our darkness and breaking bread with our demons and have been solely focusing on the light. In other words, we have been focusing on where we want to be and not how we get there, on a mindful and emotional level. Looking at the bigger picture is fantastic, because it gives us a goal to reach, but there are details in the bigger picture that need attention before we can get to where we want to be.
We’re encouraged to feel love, joy, gratitude, compassion and motivation. Those are beautiful feelings and experiences, but what about emotions that are stigmatised as negative experiences, such as anger and fear? We dare not step into the essence of those feelings, but what if the best thing for us to do is to move into what we are resisting? They can teach us how to channel how we feel and how to be confident in knowing what we can and can’t control, and how to accommodate our own needs.
I’m not suggesting that we should create a home in those aspects of ourselves, but the more we starve them, the hungrier they will get. I view that letting our emotions move through us and be experienced is so much more empowering than muttering “I’m fine” until we lose control of our inner conflicts. Suppressing what we feel creates a block in our own personal development, but new emotions developed through new experiences and old emotions from past traumas will build up until that block will cease to exist, and our own darkness will overwhelm us. Why? Because we have taught ourselves to fear our darkness. We have allowed ourselves to believe that because other people won’t tend to their own needs, that we shouldn’t either. But just because a mass of people won’t do that one thing, it doesn’t mean that we should continue and strengthen that cycle.
If you open up to people about what you’re experiencing and they express their own feelings about what you tell them, then that’s their responsibility, not yours. You are not responsible for how other people choose to act towards you. Your vulnerability does not make you weak just because someone tells you so. That reflects how they view their own experience with their own inner conflict. It is not a reflection of who you are and what you are going through.
If you’re angry, you have the opportunity to face that anger and express it in healthy ways. If that’s how you feel, it does not automatically make you a hot headed, violent person. That’s just how anger is presented by the media and by people who have made that their own experience. If you’re sad, ashamed or fearful of something in your life, then you have the chance to sit with those feelings and explore what it is that is bringing them to the surface and how you can incorporate them into your healing journey.
You can’t have the light without the darkness. They coexist together. Without the experiences that make up what we deem darkness, we wouldn’t grow, nor would we appreciate the feelings associated with living in the light. I encourage you to feel. Whether it’s love, sadness, joy or fear. Let it move through you and guide you to your own fulfilment.