We like to label things and keep them neat and clearly defined, but most of life takes place in the grey areas. We really wouldn’t know despair if we’d never felt joy. We wouldn’t appreciate loyalty if we hadn’t been stabbed in the back. We wouldn’t receive the gifts of being seen and understood unless we’d felt invisible and discarded at some point. We wouldn’t celebrate the light if we hadn’t wandered so long in the darkness. But sometimes we want to make our experiences, or other people, all one way, or another. All good. All bad.
You can feel a person’s actions or choices leave a lot to be desired, but still allow for the possibility of remorse and evolution. We’re always in process, and most of us learn the hard lessons by screwing things up. Usually, how it is around us is a reflection of how it is within us, so if we’re rigid or unforgiving or harsh or judgmental, it’s likely we’re all of those things with ourselves, first. And that isn’t a fun way to live. Constant abuse and torment from the inside is a prison. But I think a lot of people live this way. Don’t you hear people say things casually and often, like, “I’m such an idiot! I can’t believe I did that!”, or, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I just can’t get it together.” If we said those things to other people under similar circumstances, we, and they, would probably be horrified. Imagine if a close friend made a minor mistake, like taking a left instead of a right, and you called her an idiot, and wondered aloud at how she could have been so dumb. Not super nice, and she probably wouldn’t want you driving shotgun very often. Imagine if your bestie was going though a tough chapter and you said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you and why you just can’t seem to get your sh&t together.” No more bestie for you! Why we might believe it’s okay to talk to ourselves this way is a mystery worth solving. Feeding a loving inner voice is a gift you give to yourself, and everyone you encounter.
The point is, none of us is perfect. We are such solitary creatures in many ways, and we’re all complex and loaded with history and triggers and unconscious drives unless we work to bring this stuff into the light. We all have our “default settings”, or the potential to play an old tape before we realize what’s happening. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get to work, or do our very best to avail ourselves of any and all healing modalities until we figure out what we need to get right with ourselves. I’m just saying we’re always going to be in process, and our growth will be aided by self-compassion, or hindered by self-loathing and shame. Also, the more we can be accepting of ourselves, the more we can do that for others.
Today is the winter solstice. It marks the return of the light. The sun is at its weakest now, but it will grow stronger and stronger until the summer solstice. We’re invited to come home to ourselves, to feed that spark within us until it becomes a flame, a blaze that burns away anything that is inauthentic, untrue, or not working for us. It’s an invitation to shed ways of being, thoughts, ideas and habits that are weakening us instead of strengthening us. I’m not talking about New Year’s Resolutions, I’m talking about getting real with ourselves. It’s a good time to set realistic goals and objectives that are concrete and attainable, not to make a list of things that will ultimately feed our guilt and feelings of disgust and disappointment. That’s no way to stoke your fire.
Begin on the inside. It’s never too late to begin again. Make the world within you a safe space. Feed kindness, and if you’re going to crave something, crave the truth. You’ll make yourself nuts if you try to chase happiness, but if you get really clear about what is true for you, and what is true for the people closest to you, life gets a lot easier, and you’ll find you can show up for yourself and other people in a way that feels good. Shine the light on anything that might be blocking you from living life out loud. And feed that light until you’re lit up from the inside. The world needs more of that. Sending you love, and Happy Solstice! Ally Hamilton