I have been buying and checking out a lot of self-help type books to try to prep myself for beginning the Life and friendship seminars. I want to familiarize myself with the terms and concepts relating to self empowerment. I guess I have been trying to find the words to explain the concept I have had kicking around in my head. The problem, for me, with self-help books is I never seem to make it much past the first chapter. I find the exercises to be sleep inducing and the general concepts can usually be summarized with three words, “Stop. Breathe. Listen.” I’d rather go to yoga than take a nap with most of these books.
I did just pick up “The Dark Side Of The Light Chasers” by Debbie Ford. In reading the first few pages I felt a light bulb go off. This is what I have been trying to say for so long when I talk about shining the light in the dark corners. She begins with talking about unmasking what psychologist Carl Jung called the shadow. “It contains all the parts of ourselves that we have tried to hide or deny…The message we get from this hidden place is simple: there is something wrong with me…We believe that if we look closely at what lies deep within us, we will find something horrible…Instead of trying to suppress our shadows, we need to unconceal, own and embrace the very things we are most afraid of facing…It is by embracing all of who we are that we earn the freedom to choose what we do in this world.”
Now, I am only on page 7 so I can’t say if this book also contains coma producing exercises or if it continues to deliver. I will say that I believe in a simple way to access and embrace this shadow. Stop. Breathe. Listen. When you feel afraid, intimidated, angry, sad or any intense reaction just stop and breathe. You can slow down the reaction process over time and decide if you want to continue reacting in the same way. Where your body goes your mind will follow. If you are completely terrified to do something, do it anyway. Your body will adapt to the fear and gradually your mind will begin to let go of it’s firm belief in impossibility.
What are the sentences that are on a loop in your mind? I am always late. I am so intimidated by him. I will never be in shape. Now, put on your tennis shoes, leave your house 10 minutes early and go look him in the eye and tell him just what you think. You will be uncomfortable, sweaty and terrified. Guess what? You will get used to it.
When someone quits smoking, they don’t actually quit by talking about it, or thinking about it. They don’t quit by reading articles or putting on a patch. Those things may all bring someone to the point where they are ready to quit. But they actually quit by wanting a cigarette and not lighting up. They stop. They breathe. They listen. How do they feel when they survive the urge without giving in? How do they feel when they do light up? As their body learns to survive the cravings they can begin to feel the possibility of change.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t go to therapy, acknowledge traumatic life experiences or investigate any treatment that feels right for you. I am saying that it is easy to get trapped. Treatment can become another way to put your life on hold until you get to some magical place where you become “okay” or “healthy”. Whatever your life experiences have been for better or for worse they are not who you are. As we begin to change the way we are in the world to an attitude of possibility we become more confident. We become less afraid to look into the corners and see our shadows for what they are.
So, keep it simple. One breath at a time.
If you have any relatable experiences which you can share please post a comment. I would love to hear what people are thinking. Also, I have just posted the dates for the first seminar series. Please check out the Brightening Your Light page under upcoming events for more information.