Updated: May 20, 2022
We all talk about the darkness in life, most with hushed, fearful tones as though it will hear us and awaken like a slumbering leviathan. We go through life in unconscious concern of this seemingly unknowable peril. We often prescribe judgments and slap this darkness label on anything that we deem as wrong, bad, unfair, evil, or unpleasant. We spend more time fearing this perceived evil than ever really understanding it or taking time to know what it is that we are so afraid of. This creates more tension, more fear and disconnection to our perceived fears. At some point, we realize that we have created a whole world crafted from our desire to not be connected to our own darkness. Our own "darkness"? No its outside of me! Its them! not me! Well, you're right on both. But only because that is the way you have created your fiction. Now, I ask you to take a trip with me into the scariest place on Earth: your own shadow self.
As we descend into inner darkness, the dread and fear is palpable. You can't see much, but you have this sense of impending pain that makes you want to run right back up to your conscious mind, where you've created a reality where you are ok and its everyone else who's crazy. Please, take a deep breath. Really fill your lungs and breathe into your pelvic bowl, and breathe out slowly. Once you feel ready, let's explore a little bit.
As you move gently into the inner darkness, you may start to see shapes, memories, and most importantly: feelings. They come in the guise of old situations, traumas and other events you experienced. Each one holding some level of hurt in them, some are shameful or guilt ridden, others are angry and enraging, some are full of rejection or betrayal, but all hold one thing in common: They represent somewhere in your life where you feel you weren't the person you want to be or believe yourself to be. These are the places where you have lost love and respect for yourself as a human being. You've doubted your humanity, your ability to be a "good" person, and that you are ok. Each of these wounds was left unattended and has festered, creating a severe malady and disease that affects you in every waking moment. They tell you that you are no good, that you'll never be good enough, smart enough, successful enough, or ever be "perfect", whatever that means to you. These are your "core wounds". The hurts that have taken away the most basic, and important, aspect of your life: your own self-love. They play out in every relationship, every encounter, and experience that you have. They are why you never feel completely satisfied no matter how good things might be. They influence all of your decisions, create all of your perceptions of life, and in the end have complete power over your life!
One time, I had just finished meditating when I noticed this being sitting in front of me. It looked similar to me, but was covered with all sorts of shadowy distortions making it unrecognizable. I asked the being, who are you? It replied, "I am your powerful self and all of these distortions are the emotions that you don't want to feel." I thought to myself, F**k!, I thought I was the powerful self, but here, I had given all of my power away to not feeling my feelings...! This is how we give our power away to the dark side. With every emotion that you don't engage and be with, you surrender your power a little more to it. You become so afraid to feel, that you don't feel anymore. You have then given your life to fear. You become more and more unconscious. Fall into unconscious habits, losing light and life with every breath, forgetting your passions, your excitements, your loves. You forget to breath and thank the divine for each beautiful moment you have. You become dead.
I was there. I had lost so much of myself that I didn't recognize myself any longer. I had become so afraid of my own darkness, that it has enveloped me. I was lost, but with that realization came salvation because the first step in escape is awareness of the trap you're in. Being an obstinately independent person, I chose not to seek help but figure it out on my own. I don't know that I would recommend this for anyone, but its the path I chose. However, I can save the vast journey that I took learning how to come back to life with the big bullet points of what I learned.
Love is the key. Really, if I told you nothing else, this is the big take away. If you don't love yourself, you reject yourself. If you don't embrace all of those little things, love them, tell little you that it's ok and that you love yourself anyway, that part of you will continue to be hurt and fester in your unconscious mind. Understand, that every part of you that is unhealed and forgotten, sits in your unconscious mind silently influencing your conscious mind. Some call working with these voices "inner child work".
Accept and Embrace everything. Leave your judgments at the door, forget what you believe is right or wrong, let go of your preconceived notions, and accept and embrace all that is going on in your unconscious. This realm is littered with early childhood wounds when you simply didn't have an emotional or mental vocabulary to know the complexities of life. That time mom or dad got mad or punished you for something that you didn't understand created this wound that told you that you were not ok, or good enough or lovable. This part of you needs to be be reassured that he or she is indeed ok, they are lovable, and more than good enough. Take that part of you and love and hug the ever living heck out of them! I realize that you are going to find some weird stuff down here. Some are very angry and even malicious emotions and energy. Love them too. They are usually covering up another emotion that you want to feel less, like sadness or guilt. Either way, be with that emotion, hold it until it doesn't need to be held anymore. Often, these parts of us just need to be heard and loved. Maybe one emotion dissolves to reveal another emotion. Be with them all and love them until you get to the root core wound.
I realize that this may seem like over simplifying, but I believe that at the root of all issues is a lack of self-love. When we can return this love in earnest, we can fill the voids of our soul. No matter how bad your wounds are, love is always the key to filling them. Love in these terms is defined by a sense of unconditional compassion, empathy, and courage.
I also want to address truly deep wounds that have been perpetrated through abuse, molestation, addiction, witnessing or committing traumatic events and other truly difficult experiences. I stand by that love is the key, however, these may require serious and professional help to move through. Many are finding alternative solutions working with powerful plant medicines. There are new schools of thought like the work of Gabor Maté that are bringing more love and compassion to these areas of our lives. Please be honest and loving with yourself. There is nothing shameful about you. We are all works in progress, learning how to navigate this crazy world and return back to a place of love and self-acceptance. You are beautifully and perfectly imperfect. Find the love for yourself by choosing to honor yourself. Love the wounds, they are not who you are, though they have been a part of your journey. The more we truly love and accept ourselves, the more authentic we will be and the more we can show up as complete humans and the less we will be committing acts out of fear, anger, and beliefs about our insufficiency as humans. Then, perhaps, the world will be a happier softer place.