“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.” ~Anthon St. Maarten
One of the things that I notice which most of my clients have difficulty accepting, are behaviors which they perceive as making them weak or undesirable. They want to be rid of this terrible flaw and then move on. What most of them don’t realize is that this flaw or darkness holds a great gem of transformation for them.
All of us have a dark-side as well as a positive side. This dark-side has helped us to thrive and survive our lives up to this point. We all need to have darkness to have light, pain to experience joy, and stress to experience calm. It is like the concept of yin and yang. Yin is the darkness, passive, earthy and feminine quality in us. Yang is the bright, active, heavenly and the masculine qualities in us all. Without both of these things we would be incomplete. The following 4 tips is how to accept the darkness and the light within you:
1) Try noticing the darkness instead of judging it
The first thing that most of us do when we are trying to change something about ourselves is that we begin judging ourselves when we slip up and do that behavior, action or think that thought again. We say to ourselves, “What is wrong with me, why can’t I just let X go.” Try softening your voice towards yourself by saying: “Oh hello, X, I see you have come to visit again. What is it that I can help you with?” When we change your relationship to this thing which is challenging us we no longer suffer from fighting against it. We are going with the flow of life.
2) Practice Compassion with yourself
Most of the time we are our own worst critics and we speak to ourselves horribly, in ways we would never speak to a friend. So this step is one of the most important and difficult ones to practice. We have to be kinder to ourselves in order to lead more peaceful and fulfilling lives. The only way to do this is by actively practicing self compassion. My favorite way to practice compassion with myself and is to take a self compassion break. This is protocol is by the researcher Kristen Neff, who has been studying self compassion for the past 15 years. Lets begin, think of the issue that you are having difficulty with and say to yourself:
1. This is a moment of suffering:
Other options include:
• This hurts.
• This is stress.
Say to yourself:
2. Suffering in a part of life
Other options include:
• Other people feel this way.
• I’m not alone.
• We all struggle in our lives.
Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch
of your hands on your chest.
Say to yourself:
3. May I be kind to myself
You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to
myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:
• May I give myself the compassion that I need
• May I accept myself as I am
• May I learn to accept myself as I am
• May I forgive myself.
• May I be strong.
• MayI be patient
This practice can be used at anytime. Notice what happens when your practice it on a regular basis and see if the judging voice changes.
3) Practice letting go of the light and the dark equally
Most people have an aversion to darkness in their lives and hook into the positive aspects. Both avoidance and grasping create suffering in our lives because we are never allowing the flow of life to wash over us. We live in the fear of past experiences that have long since occurred and use the same lens to view our lives. In order to live more presently we need to practice enjoying the moment we are in without judgment and just letting things be exactly as they are. No experience is good or bad, it is our relationship to those experiences that light the way that we live. I like to use the words of equanimity from the buddhist tradition, to help me refocus when I get hooked into a positive or negative experience:
Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself.
I breathe deeply and take a two to five minutes to concentrate on this phrase. I repeat this to myself when I am having difficulty with obsession, sadness or aversion. Let me know how this resonates for you.
4) Self Acceptance of self does not mean stagnation.
Many people have difficulty with accepting present life because they think that it will stop them from motivating themselves towards their goals. Acceptance is not about throwing in the towel and saying, “This will never get better.” It is about seeing things for what they are presently and having a relationship with them instead of fighting them. When we surrender to the present moment then we thrive in drinking in our present experience. By living in acceptance and acknowledgment, this is what creates the ability to take action to change. In order to get to this place we must be still, face ourselves and look at the things that we fear or do not like. By doing this we stop abandoning ourselves, and create a relationship with the things that challenge us and make friends with them. This allows space for the darkness to shift and transform into something that is no longer scary and just a part of the story of our lives which does not define us, it is one of the countless things that we have experienced.
We are capable of finding of acceptance of all of ourselves with practice. Let me know what helps or challenges you with acceptance of yourself, in the comments below or contact me.
Have a blessed day!