Monday, May 23, 2016

Finding Joy Through Loving Your Dark Side

"Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." -Brené Brown // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

All of us have something within us that we don't show the world. Some of us have a lot more of these hidden things than others. Some of us like to pretend that this dark side of who we are doesn't exist. We are not failures, we are not quick to anger, or lazy. We are always clean, always happy, always charitable, and always hitting every mark along the way. You'll never see us without a smile on our faces. 

That seems exhausting, doesn't it? 

Well, why then are so many of us living like this? Living in fear of being real. Living in fear of people finding out we're real?

It seems the reason so many people avoid therapy is because there's a stigma of what it means. If you're in therapy, you "can't handle things." This is entirely untrue. One of the biggest game changers in my life was when I began to see a therapist regularly. I was afraid to go for the longest time knowing full well I needed one. There were times where I just felt like the wheels in my head were spinning so fast, I would stress myself into sickness. Hard things were emotional wrecking balls, and I would be sick and frantic. There had to be a better way to deal with life right? But, why couldn't I figure out how to stay calm and not move so fast in my head? 

The answer is easy: I needed therapy. 

There is nothing wrong with having a therapist. In fact, I'd say the simple fact that you are willing to open the closet doors, and analyze the skeletons that you've been hiding makes you headed down the path to emotional stability, and peace with oneself. 

There is something enlightening about stepping into our own darkness. Having the courage to acknowledge what exists within us, what we really suck at, and find ways to improve. To be human is to be imperfect, but so many of us struggle with allowing our imperfections to show. If we're not perfect, or appear to have a dark side to us, we fail at life. 

Again, this is completely, and utterly, false.

How many times have we witnessed the imperfections of others and completely forgiven it without even thinking? To forgive ourselves of our darkness, and to love ourselves because of it... what an adventure that would be! 

In gardening, the shorter, darker, winter days allow the perennial plants to go inside themselves, and sleep, preparing for a new day when the warmth of the long days returns. The darkness actually helps the plants. It signals to them a new chapter in their lives. Without the cold, dark days of winter, many plants would expire and die because of exhaustion.

Finding Joy Through Loving Your Dark Side // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

Another example of a dark side in the gardening world is something we can see in roses. They are gorgeous, intricately-patterned, deliciously-scented flowers. They have lush foliage in varying hues of green underneath a large showy bloom. They are the flower of love, friendship and lust, yet they are also not to be handled without care. Roses are covered in thorns. There are specific rose handling gloves that are made of thick leather and go up to your elbows. So, why do we still love roses if they are covered in undesirable thorns? Because, despite their thorns, they are among the loveliest of flowers.

So, what if your darkness helps you in some way or, at least, doesn't hinder you? 

What if we acknowledged our weak parts, our dark sides, our thorns, and said to ourselves that we were lovable and wonderful because of them? What if they were the reason the good parts of us exist?

Let's try something. Let's list something we hide about ourselves, and then find a reason that it helps us be who we are (in a good way.)

I'll go first: My anxiety, and depression, have helped me in numerous ways. They have allowed me to acknowledge imperfections in others and forgive them immediately. They have allowed me to learn so much more about the human mind, and our thought patterns than I ever thought I'd know. They have led me to the path of learning that taught me meditation, and taught me to focus on my health. The more I do this, the more peaceful and joyful I feel. The more these feelings of peace occur, the more I find joy in life. 

Acknowledge your dark sides, your skeletons, your failures. Face them head on, and challenge yourself to see the whole package of you, not just the good parts, as a wonderful thing. Instead of hiding your darkness, work on it. Bring light to it, find a way to make it become a strength. You may just find life a whole lot more worthwhile. 

++ What can you forgive yourself for today? What light has your darkness brought you? 

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