Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light” – Brene Brown
I love this quote. I love her Ted Talk on Vulnerability even more. But I hate it at the same time. It is hard to be vulnerable. It is hard to face ourselves and embrace the idea that we may have challenges, things we need to face down and own. But in order to grow, to thrive, to be healthy, we must learn to muster our courage, face our fears, and learn to accept being vulnerable during our process. This looks different for everyone, but there are some common threads.
Keeping in mind that wellbeing comes from nurturing a healthy body, mind, and spirit, we often start with the idea of healing as being a correction of the physical body. We may have chronic back or neck pain, digestive issues, autoimmunity, or some other physical ailment that causes us pain. When we reach our pain point, the point where we can no longer ignore our own suffering, we go to see a doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or some other health care professional. However, I most often see those with chronic pain of the physical body have other unresolved, underlying mental/emotional concerns. When we think about this, what comes to mind right away for most of us are things like anxiety or depression. Of course these have a physical component too. There are also things that more clearly have both physical and mental/emotional aspects such as PTSD or addiction.
But what if these were also just symptoms, like pain? What if discovering and addressing the root cause first required us to look hard at ourselves and find the “darkness” to find the opportunity we have to help shape our own wellbeing? What if the irony of wellbeing was having the ability to embrace our own vulnerability? Connecting with ourselves and to others requires taking risks, being vulnerable. Avoiding this, we walk as shadows of ourselves – never fully in the light or the dark, never fully embracing the risk it takes to heal deeply, grow, and thrive. A good caregiver can help us through this process, but ultimately the responsibility lies in ourselves, in the choices we make everyday…
Please don’t misunderstand – I am not blaming you for an illness or injury; rather I am suggesting that to achieve optimal health and wellness, we must address our mental/emotional wellbeing in addition to the physical symptoms. The real challenge is to embrace the idea that this is a lifelong process with no set destination or outcome. Rather it is a commitment to “explore the darkness” daily to become our best selves, to fully love and embrace ourselves, our family, and our friends in spite of feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable… to truly awaken “the infinite power of our light.”