There are always two sides to a coin. I believe that this is why the term “coin a phrase” came to be. We live our lives by phrases that are coined, thinking that it simplifies the logic and reason and gives us comfort in knowing that we fit in with a way of being that makes sense because the coined phrase is either easily understood, or is profound. All of that is just ego based bull.
I have often blogged about platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason” and how those platitudes can actually do more harm than good, to the point of blaming the victim of a horrendous wrong-doing. This is not new. But there is a phrase that is being coined quite often that I think most people, myself included, have not seen any harm in coining. That phrase is “Let your Light shine.”
For the most part this is quite a positive phrase. It encourages people to be themselves and to peruse goals and aspirations that they might otherwise set aside in a false sense of humility. How many people have down played their own greatness for the idea that they had to “fit in”? I believe there have been far too many who have done this. For years I would also do this. I kept myself hidden so that I would be safe and appear to be as “normal” and as “regular” as most folks around me. But there came a point at which my spirit just could not take that anymore. I began to have voice. I began to speak up. I began to stand up for what I felt was more noble than the average pile of bull people were dishing out by the truck loads. I began to let my light shine. And it helped a lot fo people along the way, not just myself.
The thing is that, as fore mentioned, there is another side to this coin. You see, when one allows their actual light to shine bright, when one allows their personal greatness to be seen, it can have an effect on others that is unexpected. People will sometimes feel small around you. This is not because of anything you actually do or say that will put them down. It is because their own false sense of humility is keeping them trapped in smallness. When you let your light shine bright, you hope that in doing so you are able to inspire those around you to rise up to the brightness of their own light, if not now then someday. But before they can, they sometimes feel anger and resentment towards you for being as awesome as you are. That anger and resentment can turn to hostility and aggression if it goes unchecked. Then the person strikes out against you and, without warning, you have been harmed.
It is easy in circumstances such as these to immediately jump to the conclusion that this person is a nemesis. It is easy to get lost in your own pain over such an event. It is easy to begin to hate that person for doing this to you when you were just being yourself. It is much more difficult to see things through the eyes of compassion when confronted with this type of behavior. But we must. Because the only reason that they do these things is because they are hurting inside. If they don’t acknowledge this and apologize for this we are not obligated in any way to forgive them. But we also do not have to damn them to eternal hell. We can choose to be compassionate. We can choose to allow them to take time to heal and grow, often in our absence, so that they can eventually find their own light to allow to shine forth. We can bless their journey and hope for the best for them without participating in any way in that process.
The other thing that sometimes happens when your light shines bright is that those close to you can get burned by it. When one lives a big life, when one allows their own greatness to simply be seen, it can have a negative effect on the ones we love. People can sometimes feel like they are living in our shadow because they have not yet found their own light. People can sometimes feel like they have to live up to something that is completely out of reach for them, simply because others, not you yourself, expect them to because of who YOU are. Simple examples are: 1. Doctors whose children are expected to also become doctors. 2. Police officers whose children are expected to never jaywalk, and preferably become a police officer when they are old enough. 3. Successful businessmen who expect their children to take over their business one day and take it to the next level of being a multi-million dollar corporation.
But this is not even something that happens intentionally. When my children were very young, many people would ask me if I was raising them to follow in my footsteps as a shamanic practitioner. My answer was always a resounding NO. I would never want to do that to my children. If they showed interest in it, I would allow them to explore and participate. For example, sometimes one or both of them would want to participate in a drum circle that I was leading. So they would be allowed to participate. But to me this was exploration for them. To some in the circle it was a “training period” for them. So I would have to educate those folks on the fact that when they participate in a drum circle they are not in any way being trained by me to become a shaman, and neither are my children. My children, like them, were simply enjoying the experience. There was no way that I was going to allow myself or anyone else to burn my children with my shining light. Yes, they have skills that they have learned along the way, simply by being around me and watching and learning about what I do and why I do it. But what they choose to do with that is completely up to them.
When one is discovering their own light, sometimes there is also resistance from those around one to this discovery. I cannot tell you how often it is that one partner in marriage is threatened by the other partner finding his or her own inner light. When this happens we hope that the resistant partner will rise up and find their own light and stop being so completely insecure. But most often, unfortunately, this does not happen. It becomes a toxic jumble of criticism, complaints, and condemnation of the person who is on their journey to discover their light. This sort of thing only ever ends in separation and divorce. Because once one begins that journey there is no turning back, and there is no holding them back from their inner truth. It becomes a matter of, “If you are not going to get on board with this and start your own inner journey of self-discovery, then just get out of my way.” Very few will simply agree to disagree and give each other space to do their own thing. Even fewer will start their own journey. Most will escalate things until it is time to go their separate ways. This is sad, because it speaks to how humans truly feel entitled to tell others how they must be and what they must feel throughout their lives.
So yes, let your light shine. Know the ins and outs of it. Know both sides of the coin and do your best to navigate this journey. But don’t hold yourself back for anyone. Don’t ever make yourself small in order to fit into someone else’s tiny paradigm box. You would not be happy there. Above all, keep growing and learning and loving along the way.