“Embrace the dark side,” may have been something that Darth Vader said to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, but it is good advice for you and for me.
How well do you know your dark side? Your shadow is the one thing that is with you no matter how dark it may be outside… or inside. Sometimes your shadow reflects your actual size and other times it projects a much larger, or even distorted self.
I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need the darkness as much as I need the light. Barbara Brown Taylor
Your darkness has something to teach you about how you live your life. All that you need to begin is the courage to turn off the switch and let your eyes adjust.
You need your shadows because they are just another side of who you are
In Star Wars, the Force is a spiritual energy that is available to every living being, regardless of whether it is used for good or for evil. Life itself is similar to the Force. You may have selfless and noble goals, or you may have purely selfish motivation for choosing the direction for your life. Regardless, it is your life.
The question that you have to consider is do you embrace all of who you are? All of the nuances of your personality and your character.
Carrie Fisher died at 60 after suffering a heart attack. Her life was remarkable not because of her light, but because of her darkness. She had courage to embrace her shadows. It was her courage to face her darkness that inspires each of us to face both our better and our more hidden selves.
In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication. Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking
If you live with a mental illness or an addiction, know that this is not your darkness. It is not your shadow. It is not blackness or hopelessness. It is just another side of yourself. If you do not live with an addiction or with a mental illness, know that the parts of your life that are embarrassing or shameful, they are not your shadow. These parts of yourself are just another side of who you are.
Too often we divide our lives into dark/light, bad/good and reject the parts that feel less acceptable and frightening. Carrie Fisher reminds each of us that being in recovery, and just living our lives, takes a great deal of courage.
How to make friends with your dark side
Turn out the light switch and the darkness surrounds you. If you decide to leave the lights on, take a moment and you may realize that the darkness can still storm inside of you. Dark can be both inside of you and on the outside. Which kind of darkness is more frightening?
Sure, the dark can elicit our fear. Often we project into the darkness all of the things that most frighten us, about ourselves and about our world. But in most cases, the dark is less dangerous than the day. Most vehicles are on the roads during the day and the risk of injury or accident increases exponentially. And most crimes occur during the day, not at night.
If the night is so safe, why do we avoid it and try to turn on all of the lights that we can find?
Some cities are beginning to recognize that we actually have too much light at night. They call it light pollution. With too much light, we cannot see the moon and the stars become invisible. Our light sources can be deceptive. We begin to think that the only light comes from switches. And sometimes the dark can reveal things in a way that the light could never do. When it is dark, our companions are the moon and the stars and for millennia, that was all that we needed.
Reducing your own light pollution is not easy. You will need the most courage just you turn off the switch. It takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust. Once you regain your night vision, you can begin to ask yourself if the stories that you tell yourself about your darkness have any merit at all. Your darkness is not evil, it is simply another side of who you are.
Each part of your life is important. No matter how far along you are in your growth as a man. Not only the heights, the hopeful and positive moods, but also the depths, the struggle and the dark moods. Wholeness comes when you can embrace all of who you are.
Carrie Fisher’s last words in Star Wars may have been “May the Force be with you,” but this is what she wants you to hear: “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
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Keep it Real and May the Force be with you.
Photo by Star Wars