There is comfort in the shadows…so much so that we often choose to stay there, hiding from the light without even realizing it. In my own journey of personal healing, I often have to reflect on where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, but also be brutally honest with myself about where I am in order to keep moving forward. This is why I am so grateful for my yoga practice. It keeps me honest.
In every post I am sharing a piece of myself and allowing readers to join me on my journey of recovery. We are all human and I have found that reminding ourselves and each other of that simple fact is extremely powerful and incredibly healing. It is terrifying, however, to be seen when you are opening up old wounds and recalling past trauma. It is much “easier” to stay hidden in the dark.
But why would anyone want living easy over living better? Maybe because when we think something is “too hard” we really mean that we think it is too hard for us and we really don’t believe we’re capable of better.
So in my own recent journal entries within the last week, I have had to remind myself of ways that I choose comfort when I am capable of more. While I am grateful for the journey up until this point, I recognize that I have developed skills that now have room to grow. Here are a few signs I’ve identified are ways that I have been resisting that growth.
- When I respond to someone suggesting I do something that scares me with a reason why I don’t/can’t/won’t. As much as I love teaching and writing now, it had been asked of me for years before I found the courage to really try. I have to remind myself how scary it was for me to begin because it’s easy to forget how hard we work to get somewhere. This has been one of the most rewarding parts of my journey as well as the most healing and therefore worth all of the effort. And still even now—just this week in fact—a teacher and friend suggested to me I was holding back during practice and it took me a while to let myself even see it, let alone try what he suggested. When I revisited my practice again and got out of my head I saw that he was right. I allowed myself to go deeper only after I let go of the excuses of why I “couldn’t.” We are human yes, but we can make a conscious effort to do better and be better for ourselves if we simply let go.
- When something triggers me and I choose to respond with old behaviors out of fear, denial, or anger, etc. The most recent part of my healing journey has been about accepting my whole self and letting go of the duality that we often divide and identify as “good or bad.” But this practice is most challenging when trauma is brought back up to the surface and old habits want to take over. While some activities can provide a temporary reprieve from the pain, anxiety, or frustration we must see that those behaviors can also be a way of staying comfortable in the darkness. At some point I have to let go of the fear that I will slip so far back into old habits that I will lose myself again and instead trust that I am a different person now, stronger and more resilient. I can choose to have faith that my path is forward and not backward as long as I am open to it. Whether the old habits involve toxic relationships, alcohol or substances, eating or spending habits, engaging in reckless behavior or hiding away in solitude, these temporary distractions do not have the same satisfying, long-term effects as shining a light on what’s really going on underneath and facing the true source of our triggers.
- When I project intense emotions onto those around me. It is quite a common experience to be so frustrated about something or someone and become hyper-focused on those external details around us. It is, in fact, easier and more comfortable to over-analyze everyone and everything else rather than look at ourselves and what we’re contributing to a given situation. That would require us to dig deep and bring awareness to the scars we would prefer to keep hidden. It helps me to remember that whatever seems to be generating strong emotions initially is rarely ever what it’s really about. It’s worth it to pause, take deep breaths, and be curious about what really matters: the stuff that is actually going on within us, underneath the chaos and drama we see.
Ultimately though, even more empowering than drawing ourselves out of the darkness is learning how to embrace it. Explore the varying aspects of being human and let go of what you think you know. Be open to seeing things in a new light including the darkness you feel inside. You are beautiful in every shade, from every angle, and with every layer you peel back because all of it is part of you. Understand the comfort in the shadows, allow yourself to embrace the deepest parts of you, let go and do not fear the light.