Tuesday, April 19, 2016

on shining your light even when people are mad at you

I've been reading Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell. I resonate with the idea of being a light worker/light bearer. (And, by the way, as soon as I say that about myself, what immediately comes up for me is "Who do you think you are?" Which clearly means I have more work to do around shame: Brene Brown says that shame has two scripts: "Who do you think you are?" and "I'll never be good enough.")

Anyway, I DO think that I am a light bearer of some kind. I've always wanted to be, from the time I heard the Counting Crows song "A Long December" and the line

All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl

Okay, so I've now shared way more than I meant to about myself than I meant to...guess we're really getting at the heart of vulnerability here! 

But what I really came to write about today was the struggle I have with continuing to let my light shine when I've messed up, or when someone is mad at me. I'd like to try to break this down, and maybe we can all learn from it. Here's what happens when I mess up (unintentionally):

1. Think everything is fine.
2. Find out everything is not fine (and someone is blaming me for it not being fine).
3. Feel like a fool/a failure/I should have known better/how could this happen?
4. I don't deserve to shine my light. Bad Sarah! Go hide in a room, nobody wants to see you.
5. Lick my wounds; run a tape of defensive thoughts in my mind (But I didn't know! I did my best!) Or admit where I was wrong or mistaken, and still beat myself up about it. I should have known better.
6. Eventually pull myself out of self-loathing and gradually polish my lamp again and get back to shining (and this process can take hours, days, or weeks, unfortunately.)

I'd like to get to the point where it doesn't take so long for me to shine the light again. I realize that the only person who can control this is me. Even if I messed up, it doesn't mean I have to completely extinguish my light. I can continue to shine and still work on solving the problem, or I can realize that just because someone is unhappy with me, it's not actually all my fault and it's quite a bit about them. 

The main point I want to get to is the it's not up to other people whether or not we shine our light. We need to keep shining even if we messed up. Even if we were wrong. Even if we were completely misguided. 

If I could tally up the amount of times in my life that I put out my light because of what other people were thinking (or what I thought they were thinking -- ugh, see how exhausting it is to be in my brain???), I would be able to cover walls and walls of my house with tally marks. I mean, I seriously do this. 

I know this starts with self-love. Even as I began this post, this famous quote from Marianne Williamson started running through my mind:

I have loved this quote from the moment I heard it (even mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela). It's hard, but we can do it! Our job is to keep shining the light! It's OUR LIGHT! No one else's. So let's keep shining.


These thoughts are a major work in progress...I'd love to know what you think! What do you think about your light? What are your tips and tricks for keeping your light shining even during difficult times? I'm sure I'll be writing more about this in the days to come, so I'd love to integrate your thoughts and comments as I continue to think about this. :) 

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