Hello darkness, my old friend

While I love celebrating Christmas as a season of light and time of spiritual renewal, often the days before and after this sacred holiday can be a bit dark for me. Between the cold, grey weather, honoring my deceased mother’s birthday on Dec. 20th and the Winter Solstice (the darkest day of the year), I find myself often taking a deep dive into the well of my soul. And often anxieties, worries or fears that may have been buried over the past year, slowly surface.

I used to cringe with discomfort when these feelings arose. I am an optimist and am blessed with a high “happiness set point” the majority of the time.

mindfulness

But I’ve learned there are many benefits to having tea with my dark side or shadow (a psychological term introduced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung that encompasses everything in us that is unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied; the dark rejected aspects of our being). I could easily justify my sadness, malaise and unhappiness with a long list of socially acceptable woes, but now I don’t even try.

Some of the gifts that have come from dancing with my shadow, include:

• The opportunity to go inward and reflect on where I’ve been; balancing a rich “inner world” with our robust “outer world” is essential to emotional well-being.

• The chance to ask for help; to be reminded we’re interdependent and support is all around us if we just reach out and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

• The gift of contrast: when we experience the opposite of happiness and joy, we are reminded how fleeting all of our emotions are.

• The understanding that contemplation is essential internal housecleaning—we need to clean out the closets and clear away the cobwebs to make space for what’s next.

• A chance to practice mindfulness: surrendering, trusting and knowing that “this too shall pass.”

• The opportunity to ask, “What am I de-pressing that is trying to surface?” My wise brother who navigates a wide spectrum of moods believes feelings of depression arise when we’re de-pressing something that is trying to come to light.

• A ticket to the most unpopular vacation destination known to humanity—“the unknown”—and a chance to realize that’s it not as bad as the brochures lead us to believe.

• An invitation to revisit old stuck patterns and thoughts—repetitive worries or fears—and to ask if we’re ready to let these friends move on and find a new home.

• The realization that if my thinking, perspective or relationships are off-course, I have the choice to re-set my GPS and go a different route. Thank God.

Growing up, I loved attending Christmas Eve midnight mass with my large family. Silently and sleepily, we’d enter the dimly lit sanctuary, inhaling the smell of frankincense. After communion, we’d wordlessly turn to our neighbors and light one another’s small tapered hand-held candles while quietly singing Silent Night. I loved the symbolism of this act, seeing the dramatic sea of flickering lights and knowing that from the darkness, we would all, eventually, return to the light.

DO YOU LOVE MY BLOG BUT HAVE YET TO DATE ME? Seriously, I am so blessed by all the men and women I meet who share how my weekly posts on living intentionally inspire and anchor them. Thank you! I am so grateful to be a part of your life. And, I’d love to take it to the next level and support you in feeling more freedom and resiliency in the New Year. Here are five ways I can help you enhance balance and resiliency in your life–check them out! We work with men and women at all life stages around the globe. Or, feel free to reach out to me at info at reneetrudeau dot com or 512-459-6700 with any questions  –I’d love to hear from you.

I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU–THREE UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES: 

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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by transformational coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.

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Comments

  1. Beautifully said. This resonates. I go through the same steps in the new year and know the juxtaposition of feelings when a painful anniversary neighbors a joyful one. Today was my dear friend’s birthday who I lost 9/11 which neighbors my own. Some years I feel emotionally off balance, some years I crest discord out of that place. Each years I get closer to unpacking and embracing all of these feelings.
    A few years ago I wrote this in the same vein as your piece. Wishing you piece and an extra blessing on the 20th.
    https://sahmmelier.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/cobwebs-and-clutter/

  2. Beautifully said. This resonates. I go through the same steps in the new year and know the juxtaposition of feelings when a painful anniversary neighbors a joyful one. Today was my dear friend’s birthday who I lost 9/11 which is near my own. Some years I feel emotionally off balance, some years I create discord out of that place. Each yearI get closer to unpacking and embracing all of these feelings.
    A few years ago I wrote this in the same vein as your piece. Wishing you peace and an extra blessing on the 20th.
    https://sahmmelier.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/cobwebs-and-clutter/