In the northern hemisphere, December brings darkness, and for some this brings the blues, AKA depression. As the loss of light progresses, veils of separation may also thin, connecting us more easily to our inner depths. Old issues we have dealt with can resurface, sometimes with an intensity that belies the work we have already done with them. Typical CASIGY (Creative, Sensitive, Acutely, Aware, Introverted, Gifted) issues such as inferiority, perfectionism, and a feeling of not belonging rear their ugly heads with a vengeance. New ones may wiggle in, too. Then there’s the waning economy; the holidays; you name it. The darkness outside us can join with the darkness within us, taking us deeper and deeper.
The calendar year is winding down and a new one is quickly creeping up. We may find ourselves thinking about where our lives are compared to where we wanted them to be by now. Many people do this; what’s different for CASIGY’s? CASIGY’s are likely to set the bar so high that it’s never reachable. We’re not satisfied with our accomplishments, even when others are. We also may have higher levels of concern and anxiety for the future, based on our broader, deeper awareness of issues and their implications.
December may also be a time of reckoning in terms of relationships. How are our relationships doing? What relationships, some of us may say? We may be acutely aware of the research that shows how much healthier people are who are part of a community. But community can be especially difficult for CASIGY’s. We’re highly sensitive introverts – so taking time and having the energy for interpersonal relationships is very difficult, if not impossible at times. It’s easy for CASIGY’s to feel like misfits. We may have been, and felt like outsiders since we were children, so we may have concluded that we didn’t belong and couldn’t fit in.
Like the legendary reindeer Rudolph, we may have tried to hide or camouflage our gifts so we would fit in and be accepted. As is often the case, the coping mechanisms we developed in childhood to survive, no longer serve us as adults. It’s time to recognize that the conclusions we made when we were young — that as CASIGY’s we are total misfits and therefore we don’t belong, don’t deserve and can’t have the good life that we want — is not accurate.
When we were young, these conclusions may have helped us make sense of our differences and difficulties. Now they imprison us. And yet they feel so necessary. In fact, there seems to be an inverse relationship here. The more crucial they were to our survival as children, the more essential they seem AND the more they mess us up now. Our differences are real. Our emotions are real. Here’s the kicker: the conclusions we drew about our differences, our emotions, and their meaning are not real. Just because we feel stupid or small or helpless, does not mean that we are. Just because we feel inferior, inadequate or like we don’t belong, does not mean it’s true. After all, we drew these conclusions when we were very young, usually by the age of 3-5. We don’t have to let a four year old run our lives now; yet that is exactly what we do when we live by the decisions we made back then.
Like Rudolph, we can transform our differences into assets by our recognizing our unique gifts, and using them to make a positive contribution. In the legend, Rudolph saved the day by leading the way for Santa to deliver his gifts. The very characteristic that got him ostracized became his entree’ into acceptance. His nemesis became his greatest asset. Yours can too.
Also like Rudolph, you can stop ignoring your pain and heal it; you can stop hiding your gifts so you can maximize them to save your life and the lives of others. What bright red nose is shining in your life? What difference are you trying to hide? What bright red alarm signal in your life are you trying to ignore? What in your life has made you feel like a misfit?
-This is your goldmine.
-This is where to look for your gift.
-This is also what you can transform and activate to make a significant difference in the lives of others.
How do we overcome the Holiday Blues and December’s depression? By befriending — no — by embracing the previously feared darkness within. We overcome this darkness by going into the darkness. Only then can we find and let in the Light. What do I mean by going into the darkness to find the light? On a practical level, one example would be washing out a wound. Several years ago, I fell while riding my bike and landed on one knee. I washed it out, but in my high sensitivity, I didn’t have the ‘stomach’ for the pain involved, so I didn’t scrub it out deeply. I kept telling myself, “tomorrow it will hurt less, and I’ll do it,” but it didn’t stop hurting until well, until after it healed, with the dirt still embedded in the skin on that knee, where it is to this day. I apparently cleansed the dirt in my washing it, as it never got infected. I went partially into the dark, but not all of the way, so I still carry some of that darkness around with me every day.
Another example of going into the darkness to find the light would be exploring our resistance to something we say we want to do. I want to exercise every day, or that’s what I tell myself. But when it comes down to it, it’s too cold outside (or too hot in the summer), I don’t want to stop other things I’m doing (or they take longer than I had anticipated, and I don’t want to stop until I’m finished) so I can go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier so I can exercise before I go to work. What is that glass ceiling in my life between what I say I want and what I want ENOUGH to give up the other things I will have to give up in order to achieve them? I can only find out what it is by exploring the dark recesses of my life, by digging and scrubbing deep enough to ferret out the depths of what is going on inside me.
And how can that be done? There are many ways, probably as many ways as there are people. Journaling, praying, meditating, talking things over with a friend or family member, reading stories, essays and books that others have written about the area we are struggling with, the list could go on and on. You may have noticed that one of my favorite ways to dig deeper in my inner life is to combine several approaches in one. I make something that metaphorically represents some aspect of my dilemma, and follow that artistically and imaginatively until it takes me to a new place. In that new place, I have new awareness, new insight, and new energy to take back to my life and apply to my dilemma. Also, as I pursue creative projects, sometimes a symbolic or metaphorical connection with some issue in my life becomes apparent as I work on it. I have shared a number of these in previous newsletters.
I also like to walk in nature and meditate on what I see and hear and consider what lessons it has for me and the dilemmas I am facing. Another of my favorites is stream-of-consciousness journaling, where I write every thought that enters my head, and I do it for a designated number of pages or amount of time. That can take my thought process deeper or broader, or make new connections, and in an uncanny way, transport me to a new mental/emotional/spiritual place.
I’m wondering what YOUR favorite ways are to “enter the darkness in order to find the light”. If you’re willing to share a few words about this, please post here