One of the most influential books I have ever read is called, "The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self" by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. I read it during one of the darkest periods of my life, and it was pivotal to the transformational process that I underwent to change myself from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
Some of the questions the book seeks to answer are:
These are worthwhile questions to be asking ourselves. Especially right now when we're witnessing the darkness take a lot of people over. Suicide rates are rising around the globe and the emotional, physical, and economic stress & pressures that people are under are causing fissures and fractures to our mental health & our relationships in ways that most of us have not experienced in our lifetimes.
Throughout 2020, when I've found myself getting sucked into the darkness, I remember this nugget of wisdom that I took from reading, "The Shadow Effect":
I honestly don't even know if that exact sentence is in the book (and I gave the book to a friend so I don't have it in front of me to page through and find out), but that sentence---that thought---captures the essence of the meaning that I took away from reading it. "The purpose of the darkness is to expand the light."
So on those mornings when I wake up with my brain asking things like:
"What's the point of this day? What's the point of life? Everything is so bad and dark and hard right now", I repeat this mantra: "The purpose of the darkness is to expand the light."
When I read headlines about corrupt leaders more interested in self-preservation and power than in being of service to their people, I repeat this mantra: "The purpose of the darkness is to expand the light."
When I see images of dead bodies stacking up & medical professionals asking to be taken seriously while many of us remain stuck in our ways, I repeat this mantra: "The purpose of the darkness is to expand the light."
When interactions with my kids or my husband or anyone else in my life evoke irritation, frustration, anger, or sadness, I repeat this mantra: "The purpose of the darkness is to expand the light."
Pretty sure you get the gist.
And here's what this mantra does for me. It switches my neural networking from one of anger, pointlessness, or hopelessness to one of meaning and empowerment.
When I say to myself, "the purpose of the darkness is to expand the light," then my brain begins to tell a different story about what the circumstances that I see around me can mean. If the purpose of the darkness is to expand the light, then how can I use the current circumstances to expand my light?
And here are some of the answers that come:
And here's the cool thing. Just like any other skill that we learn--learning how to walk, talk, shoot free throws, or get jiggy with it, when you practice courage enough times, courage gets easier.
2020 has provided me with an exceptional opportunity to understand how choosing to be more BOLD makes me more hopeful. In some respects, it's because things have gotten so bad, so delusional, and so completely ridiculous, that it's like, "hey....what do I have to lose from standing up, speaking my heart, and living from my soul?" I mean clearly the status quo is not working--and hasn't been working for a long time. I can't change that. I can't change the world. But I can change myself. And that can change my experience of the world.
So my invitation for you is to let the darkness expand your light. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means standing up with more strength and more courage and using your voice. Maybe it means saying "No" to things that no longer bring you joy so that you can say "Yes" to more things that do. Maybe it means letting your sadness, your anger, or your anxiety be what finally propels to you say, "ENOUGH" and make the changes in your life that you keep not making.
I don't know exactly what your dance with darkness needs to entail, but what I know for sure is that just like every character from every movie or any story ever told.....it is the darkness, the challenge, the-back-up-against-the-wall, odds-stacked-against-us-situations that forge and summon and galvanize us to expand our lights.
I would love to hear how you choose to expand yours or if you need help figuring out how to do so. Click HERE to set up a 30 minute meeting & let's chat.
Light and Leadership,
Fulfillionaire Facilitator, Educational Psychologist, Inspirational Speaker