When life is hard I have a tendency to want to run away and hide. I am sure many of you can relate to this feeling. Deep in my heart, my fear of being destroyed by the strength of my emotions drives me bury myself in one thing or another. Often that is sleep. I sleep to avoid my feelings, to avoid my fear, anger, hurt and sense of betrayal, be it personal or otherwise.
I am learning that this is not always the sanest choice. In fact, often it is quite the opposite.
You see, when life get hard we are forced to look directly into the face of our deepest fears and insecurities, what I am coming to know as my shadow self. In hiding from my own shadows, I am allowing them to run the show. I am allowing my darkness to control me and my actions and in doing so I am empowering its continued existence.
Think of it this way.
When you meet an enemy on the battlefield, you become deeply afraid. You fear your own annihilation, petrified that this enemy may have the power to snuff out your very existence. What is a person to do? I have learned that our options are two; 1.) I can run away. Consider the effects of doing this. Yes, I protect my own continued existence, but the act of running away allows two things to happen. The enemy continues to exist in all of its terrifying power and it suffers no harm for the privilege. The second option is to stay and fight. The wise warrior chooses the second option. Staying involves facing what I am afraid of, not burying myself in a safe place and assuaging my own fears. I must FEEL my fear, and then stay anyway.
The second thing that staying allows me the opportunity to accomplish is defeating my enemy, never again to face them on the field of battle.
When facing our own Shadow Selves there are also two options. We can battle blindly, striking out impulsively in the hopes that our blind rage will be sufficient to win the battle. In my experience this is another, subtler form of avoidance. Our eyes are closed and we are blindly allowing our fear and rage to run the show. They are powerful, yes, but in this case that power is not harnessed. Like a downed power line, we are flailing about, spewing our power in an undisciplined, unrefined attempt to injure that which we are afraid of. This may injure our opponent but it will not defeat them. Our opponent is too skilled and knows us too well for this approach to be effective.
The second option is to be present to our fear, look it in the face and realize that we know its weaknesses. Fear is strong, yes, but it is sloppy. It relies upon us to empower it. Knowing this, and looking it full in the face, we can begin to see what exactly it is that we are so afraid of. Often, what we are afraid of is fear itself. Fear is strong. It has the power to take over our minds, dampen our rationality and rob us of our precious presence. When do not allow it to do this we begin to see that it’s armour is chinked and has many holes. Like us, deep down fear does not want to fight. Fear wants to run away. Deeper than that, fear just wants to be loved, and assured that there is indeed nothing to be afraid of. Rage is the same. Rage only wants to be seen, heard and loved.
In running away from these parts of ourselves we are robbed of the chance to embrace them and quell the storm that they breed inside our own hearts.
There are so many lessons to be learned from the dark places in our lives, if only we are brave and wise enough to stay put and face them.
Courage dear warrior. The power is yours, all you need to do is claim it.
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