A light in the darkness
February 4, 2013 by
Categories: Acceptance, Human

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I ran into that quote quite a bit last week around the celebration of King’s desire for human rights. While he is speaking on a large level, I began to think of this quote on a more individual level.

When there is a part of is that we don’t like, our usual reaction is to dislike (or hate) it, try and separate ourselves from it, or ignore it by pretending it isn’t there. All of these reactions send ourselves the message that we are short of our full value. Most of the time when we act out on this part of ourself, we berate ourselves and directly send the message that we lack value.  At the least, trying to separare parts of ourselves from us is self defeating and, in a way, fighting hate with hate or darkness with darkness.

Image by Archbob

Image by Archbob

I think there is a lot to think about in terms of what King suggested we do: use love. Frequently when I talk to someone who is horrified at a personal habit, addiction, or past deed, I ask how they would treat someone else with the same thing. Generally the response is that they would respond with compassion and love. Why wouldn’t we do the same thing for ourselves?

I think sometimes it’s because we are afraid others won’t be compassionate and it somehow lessens the sting if we stike ourselves first. Sometimes we hold ourselves to a higher standard: its ok if someone else did it, but not me. Why? Are we any better than anyone else? Are we any less human?

Either way, responding without compassion for ourselves prevents us from doing what we need to. It keeps us from recognizing our strengths and being who we are, rather than what we or others think we should be.

Responding with self-compassion is not easy and it takes practice. Even being compassionate with ourselves when we forget to practice self-compassion is important! Doing so brings a balance in our lives and a peace that not only begins to heal us, but also provides the energy we need to touch and heal others.

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