The Dark Night of the Soul should never be
allowed to take root in our lives. Our soul is like a garden, and we the
gardeners. If we allow the Dark Night of the Soul to take hold, it can become
Pain and suffering is part of the natural flow of life. We
all experience the Dark Night of the Soul at different levels, for different
However, if we let the grief, hurt, shame, guilt, or regret
to take hold, we may never get over it as long as we live.
The Dark Night of the Soul is event or situational based,
and always temporary. It comes during times of significant change or
transformation. The length and strength of the Dark Night of the Soul depends
on the depth of our spiritual dimension of being, a.k.a. the foundation of
There is no deeper well than that of self-pity. We all have
the occasional moment of “Why me?”, or even “Woe is me”.
One of the tools readily available to one and all is self‑love.
Not the self-love associated with narcissism. The agape
self-love – self-transcended love ‑ that allows us to look at ourselves as we
are, not as we wish we were.
When we look at ourselves with self-love, we do so with
compassion and empathy. We provide ourselves with good companionship as we
look at the scars, flaws, and the beauty, and the goodness. We accept it
for what it is and embrace it with a loving gentleness.
When we can honestly look at our deepest selves with love
and compassion, we can identify what the real need is, and then seek that to
heal our suffering.
Living a positive lifestyle does not protect us from pain
and suffering in the world. Each comes to us all at different times, in
different forms, because pain and suffering are, like us, part of the natural
flow of life.
One of the ways to approach pain and suffering is to observe
it, and accept it for what it is, and then to take action.
The first step in taking action is to lean-in to your
beliefs. When we lean-in, we inspire the light that lives inside of us. When
the light is inspired, hope is sparked and grows.
The second step is meeting our beliefs half-way and
taking action in our lives to change the course to something more manageable,
while guided by our beliefs.
The third step is to step outside of our worry and
fear, and engage with others of our beliefs to gain a sense of support and
Before we can be the change
we want to see in the world, we have to be the change we want to see in our own
I only ask to be free. The
butterflies are free. ~Charles Dickens
by: Donna R. Wood
Like the butterfly, we create our own prisons; and
like the butterfly it is only through our own fortitude, will, and desire will
we free ourselves. The butterfly has an advantage; it breaks through the walls
through instinct. It just knows at the right time that it must emerge and fly,
or it will die. Contrary to popular belief, butterflies are not social insects.
They live each day flitting to and fro, alone. (The great Monarch migration is
not a social activity.)
People, however, are social creatures. We do not
just desire the company of others, we need others. We seek out those who think,
look, and feel the same way we do. This can serve in one of two ways: freedom
or continued imprisonment.
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those
who you want with you, and those who you don’t. Who do you want on your team?
Those who would rather see you miserable like they are? Or, those who are
willing to lift you up and carry you with them? My mother has told me, since
the time I was young, “Surround
yourself with useful people.“
A few years ago, I got my wings clipped on both sides by people whom I had grown to trust. This threw me into a deep chasm of self-doubt, fear, second-guessing, and mistrust. I found myself spiraling out of control, until I heard the bars of my self-made prison clang shut behind me.
In a brief moment of survival instinct, I sought
out the key to unlock the door. I made my cry out into the world, and the key
was thrown to me by an unlikely benefactor. Sometimes, although another
possesses the key, it is not their responsibility to unlock the door. In fact,
they can’t. Especially if we are clutching the door shut with all our might,
covering the key hole. He threw me the word, betrayal. I knew the second I
received it that my whole world was about to crash down around me. I knew that
the walls were about to implode and I was going to be crushed under the rubble.
Knowledge is power. That one simple word was the
power that I needed to take action, or be lost to the ruins of my chrysalis.
Asking for help is not in my nature. I was brought up a boot-strapper much like
the rest of the people my age in North Dakota.
At this point I was so broken and comfortable in
the midst of my chrysalis; I had to make a decision. I took the key and sought
out another who could help me learn to use it. It turned out the key that was
thrown to me was the master key to my life. It unlocked a lot of doors that had
been closed years ago, although the toxicity from those events had been seeping
through the cracks into my life the whole time.
If you do not take another thing away from this
posting, please take this: You can never be free until you clean up the toxic
waste from your past – and even from your present.
painful when you were born to be great!”
~ T. D. Jakes
by: Donna R. Wood
When the Butterfly sheds the chrysalis, there will
be loss. There will be collateral damage. It will be uncomfortable and even
painful at times. But, when those wings unfurl for the first time, life takes a
new path. It is no longer crawling along the branches and leaves, but floating above
it all in victory.
I was born in the late 1960s with a congenital
heart defect that could have ended my life before it ever began. It didn’t. I
spent a good number of years wondering what I had been saved from; surely death
at birth would have been a far better alternative than the life I had been born
This constant search for the meaning and purpose
of my life led me down some very dark
and treacherous roads. I found myself in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Everywhere
I looked there was death and destruction. I was surrounded by living ghosts –
people who only existed, until their bodies wore out, and the reaper came to
claim them, one by one.
I was terrified, because I knew with each passing
day I was becoming one of them. I found myself very much alone on a road with
hundreds of people. We trudged along, bearing the weight of all our shame and
guilt for decisions made or not made; for love given or withheld. We trudged
along, dragging our baggage with us, hoping to find an oasis in the desert; a
place to rest. The oasis never came.
In the end, I was a living ghost, the same as all
the rest. However, in the depths of the wells of despair and demoralization,
pain and humiliation, there was the glow of a soft flame of strength and
courage. With each breath that sustained my life, the flame sputtered, clinging
to the hope for redemption.
I struggled with my own perception of myself,
placed there by each new label as it had been firmly attached to my soul –
single mother [shameful,] Godless [damning,] damaged goods [demoralizing,] and
poverty stricken [unworthy.] These are only a few of the labels that had been
placed on me by the world; the world, not me.
In the realization that my life was a living
testimony to those labels, I began to tear them off one by one.
I couldn’t change the fact that I was a single
mother, but I chose to tear the label in half. Now, I am just a mother. How
liberating that is.
I couldn’t change the fact that I am damaged
goods, I was born that way. I removed the word damaged from the label, and the
‘s’ from the last word. Now I am just good. I am kind and considerate of
others. I am not perfect, but I try every day to live in a state of soul over
I could change my socio-economic status. I went to college and graduated – twice – and have recently returned to challenging myself through courses offered on-line. I took the only gift I was given at birth, the gift of writing, and capitalized on it. This is not what makes me simply worthy, but I will talk about this in a future post. Godless – how does one conquer the label of Godless in a world where being damned by your labels prevails? Just be Godly like all the rest? Being like all the rest didn’t seem to work out very well the first time, so it required a bit more work. I found that I could not expect or receive compassion from all the rest – I had too many labels to overcome. I could not expect or receive forgiveness from all the rest – I was a living ghost encroaching on the land of the truly living. I had nothing to offer, nothing to give. I was damned to the wilderness, where I had to find it on my own or not at all.
Your labels and my labels may not be the same; however, what we choose to do with our labels is what really matters in the end.
The butterfly is a flying flower… ~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun
by: Donna R. Wood
Most people at the age of five dream of being
something extraordinary like a firefighter, doctor, lawyer or some other high
level profession, but not me. I wanted to be a flower. Flowers were soft,
delicate, and beautiful. My grandma and I would pick wildflowers in the fields
and ditches along the highway, bring them home, and put them in a vase on the
table. I would marvel at the menagerie of colors and design. Oh, how I wanted
to be one of them. They were perfect in every way.
That’s the trouble with people; none of us are
perfect. We go through life collecting imperfections born out of bad decisions,
mistakes, or even through circumstance. We hold on to these imperfections,
packing them neatly inside and drag them with us wherever we go. We become so
weighed down by all this unnecessary self-perception of imperfection, we cannot
begin to imagine the idea of taking flight in life.
I dragged around bag after bag of guilt, worry,
bitterness, and regret. The weight of these bags became more than I could
carry, but I insisted on taking them with me wherever I went. I would try to
fly, only to find myself confined in the chrysalis of the life I had made for
myself. I had constructed walls around me so high and thick that no one could
get in, and in the process trapped myself inside.
It was dark in that chrysalis. Yet over time, the
darkness became a source of comfort. It was familiar. I knew each pain and
suffering by name and date. I knew all the characters that had played a role in
their creation. I would reminisce in their moments of completion. I began to
live in the memory of all that had been, and my world became very small, ending
where the chrysalis began.
One day, I stopped struggling to get out. I just stopped. It was a pointless effort. I couldn’t do it. I thought I wasn’t strong enough. I thought I wasn’t perfect enough. In reality, I wasn’t brave enough. I was scared of all the new pains and sufferings that might be out there. It was painful inside the chrysalis, but the risk to emerge was too great. All the what-ifs came into play. What if I get hurt again? What if I’m not good enough? What if…what if…what if… If a butterfly stays too long in the chrysalis it will die. It will suffocate in its own skin, never having felt the soft summer breeze that lifts it to flight.
Every chrysalis has a weak point, a place in the
wall that can and should be broken. But how? I learned, inside the chrysalis,
where the source of true strength lies – inside us. We have to take that deep
breath and expand until the walls break, and we are free. When a butterfly is
inside the chrysalis, at the moment before it emerges, it swallows air from the
outside world to expand its thorax and break the chrysalis open at the weakest
When the butterfly emerges it is no longer a
caterpillar. It cannot carry the extra baggage from its previous state with it.
The butterfly must leave behind the days of being a caterpillar. It must leave
behind the days of struggling to survive – to find food, hide from predators,
and live each day until the next. It must leave all the pains and suffering of
its caterpillar days in the ruins of the chrysalis. Only then will it truly be
free to fly.
Although a butterfly spends but two weeks in the
darkness of the chrysalis, shedding its past self, I spent almost three years.
Transformation does not happen overnight – for the butterfly or for people. The
most frightening moment of the process is in the moment before emergence. Break
the chrysalis anyway.
Forgiveness means you have another chance to start again. Often, that means evaluating the person who behaved hurtfully to determine whether the harm was intentional or accidental.
Well-meaning people frequently admonish those who have been seriously hurt by another person to forgive the one who hurt them. If the person did not normally behave that way, it makes sense to forgive. Everyone has reactions they regret and bad judgment once in a while.
But when the person possesses no empathy or compassion, when they not only refuse to take responsibility for their long-term pattern of damaging behavior, but they blame someone else (often the victim!) and play the victim themselves, victims of this kind of person find it hard to forgive. Because the perpetrator does not feel sorry or regretful, and often feel fully justified in their actions, the injured person cannot even begin to consider forgiveness.
They blame you when they’re the perpetrator.
So this situation will bind you to the hurtful person with the strongest of cords. You hold these cords in your hands yet you pull them taut every time you immerse yourself in the past. By holding onto your feelings of pain, anger, and betrayal, you give that person free access to your mind and your soul, your entire inward person. You give away your power to someone who wants to control you. As long as you go back into those memories, you live in the past and give up your sovereignty to someone who does not deserve it.
Separate yourself …
By seeking to forgive the person, you cut the cords that bind you. Acknowledge that the person who hurt you does not or will not understand how they have hurt you. You also acknowledge that they don’t care. You are not saying that it’s okay that they hurt you, or that it wasn’t that bad, or that it doesn’t matter.
Quite the contrary.
… and release.
By forgiving them, you release their hold over you. By forgiving, you show that you do not intend to keep diving into the bad emotional experiences that you have had with them. You won’t think about them at all. For anything! You sever emotional ties and remove their hold on you. You will no longer accept their valuation of you, nor will negativity from them be tolerated by you any longer.
Forgiveness in this sense means simply letting go: letting go of the pain, the memories, your history with this person, sometimes letting go of the person. It is not condoning, letting it slide, and saying it was okay to hurt you.
You are not to blame.
Forgive yourself for those times when you might have responded in a less-than-ideal way. Who wouldn’t have? You were not the problem; you never were the problem.
Ultimately, forgiveness removes obstacles to perceiving your relationship with this person clearly. Once you remove the obstacles, you will be free – free to choose to walk away from the person and your relationship with them, and to have a new beginning (but not with them). Forgiveness gives you a chance to separate yourself from the painful situation, and from the person who caused it – and if it takes separation to bring you peace and wholeness, then do it.
“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been … and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it … great things.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1892-1910
The new year holds such promise, with its clean slate and its fresh beginning. We can almost feel the field of infinite possibilities unfolding before us as we look ahead unencumbered by our past that we left behind in the old year.
We feel passionate, hopeful, eager for transformation, seeing the world with new eyes so that the world looks new again, filled with the promise of “things that have never been”.
We believe that this time, things will be different, we will be different, and our lives will become what we want them to be. We even understand the magnitude of the effort and time involved in the transformations we ask of the new year, and are willing to put in that effort and time to accomplish them.
So how do we find ourselves in the same situation we left behind, year after year? How do we lose sight of the bright shining future we envisioned for the new year yet again?
The key lies hidden in plain sight, as it so often does: at the new year, we choose to see the possibilities, we stoke the fires of desire for transformation, for evolution, for growth and change, and perhaps most importantly, we let go of the past, releasing it to stay in the past, in the old year that’s ending.
You see, as long as we’re holding onto the past, we can’t create a new future. As long as we feel emotions like anger, regret, sorrow, grief, frustration, annoyance, vengeance, we are tied to the past by the strongest of cords.
The key to lasting, effective change is simply to allow the past to stay in the past instead of holding onto it by reliving our emotions.
During the holidays, we have a break from our routines, along with a festive spirit and (hopefully) time away from work to relax with family or friends. Because we have broken our routines, our minds have become more open to new possibilities, and our focus is on the future.
We often feel emotional about what the future could hold as well, and we’re ready to open our hands and our hearts and let the past fall out and lie amongst the ashes, where it belongs, while we turn our eyes and minds toward the horizon and the shining new year rising before us, replete with promise and possibility.
This year, keep your eyes on the future. It will be bright, because it will be what you create. Allow the past to remain behind you, unseen and unfelt. You have lived through it once; carrying the past with you will not mitigate its effects; rather, you will strengthen it by pouring emotional energy into it.
Pour your emotional energy into your future instead, into the infinite field of possibilities lying before you. You have the ability to choose the future you want to walk into; you can create the life you want to live. Study the possibilities with an open mind and an open heart, thrill with the possibilities, infuse them with positive emotions, and start working to manifest your dreams.
It’s time to set down your baggage and leave it in the past. Turn your eyes to the horizon and embrace the promise of the new year.
You must become that which you want to be first and let the world follow in your tracks…. Your world faithfully and accurately reflects, not what you have put in an order for, not what you have correctly and clearly asked for, but the person you are! * ~Genevieve Davis
work is just that: work, that someone did. Someone took an action which
produced a result. In our scientifically oriented, mechanistic culture, nothing
happens without an introduction of work into a system. Without work, a system by
nature moves toward entropy – disorder
Even in the
art world, masterpieces and not-so-masterful pieces are called “works of art”.
Like everything else, art is something we do.
Nothing happens until someone moves something.
scientific view, this cause-and-effect perspective, is the perceptual framework
that defines western civilization. It’s a good and a valid perceptual
framework, but like any framework, it can only show us part of the entire
Our mistake arises when we see part of the picture but believe we’re seeing the whole.
The disconnect between “western” and “eastern” medicine, science, and philosophy stems partially from this clash of perceptual frameworks. In the western viewpoint, the whole is the sum of its discrete parts and is defined by their specific functions; the eastern perception is that everything is a reflection of the whole and contains the whole within itself.
Even in the
west, we acknowledge the idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of its
Stepping beyond our perceptual
should step back and look at our ideas of working, of doing, because maybe
we’re putting the cart before the horse; maybe we’re looking at the end result
of a process but thinking that the
result sprang fully formed from an isolated action or set of actions.
look at producing a work of art so we can see the process behind the result;
that will equip us to apply it in useful ways to the other areas of our lives.
How to create a masterpiece in three easy steps….
going to paint a picture of a vase of flowers, we first have to get a vase of
flowers, whether that’s an actual vase with flowers in it, or a picture of a
vase with flowers, or a memory of one, or even an imagined picture of one. Then
we just pick up a paintbrush and transfer that image onto a canvas or a building
or watercolor paper.
If we sit
down with a musical instrument, we need a piece of music to play on it. We get
the sheet music, or a recording of a piece of music, or our memory of a piece
of music, or an imagined piece of music. Then we just play that piece of music.
object, “I don’t know how to paint a
picture or play a musical instrument!”
The how is the process: not the mechanistic,
step-by-step, painstaking instruction to replicate the object in a new medium.
Not at all. That’s part of the work that produces the end result, the end of
The process begins not with working in a medium to produce a result, but with becoming a person who can and will create that artwork.
Art isn’t created in a vacuum.
created in the soul, the heart, the imagination of the artist.
You must be what you want to create first. If you
want to create something beautiful, you must have a beautiful soul, one that
loves and is attracted to beauty – not shallow judging of physical good looks,
but the deep appreciation of beauty within the object of your vision.
If you want
to create art that promotes social justice, it must first live in your soul.
If you want to create art that demonstrates the beauty or the power or the majesty of nature, you must first love, appreciate, and understand it in the deep places of your heart.
Notice there’s no mention of talent.
Talent usually means that someone can be good at something more easily than others can. The rest of us have to work harder to be just as good. But there’s almost nothing that can’t be taught to someone who wants to learn, and once she masters the techniques, she immerses herself into the expression of passion and emotion and gratitude, and that person can produce art that moves people, art that means something.
The person expresses the soul, and what emerges from that expression is art.
holds true in every area of our lives. When we express who we are, what emerges
from that expression is our life. Our experiences reflect – at least to an
extent – the person we are, and the beliefs we hold. Of course, the people
around us and our circumstances affect the kind of life we live, too: if we can barely feed our families, then we
likely won’t be making scientific breakthroughs or writing classic literature.
despite bad circumstances that may be beyond our control, some manage to have
homes filled with happiness, children who feel understood and appreciated, and
friends who seek them out.
perhaps even those in fairly good circumstances, have rather average lives.
These people have chosen, for whatever reason, not to be extraordinary, not to
seek beauty, not to understand themselves. They have chosen to live by default,
responding to every situation but never creating, living their lives on
autopilot. Maybe this even describes you.
What would your life look like if
you chose to be extraordinary?
your soul sing? Who could you become to give voice to that song? How could you
give expression to the beauty and depth and passion in your soul? Where is the
Life is not doing. Life is becoming. Being is enough, and yet being isn’t static. It’s changing, flowing, charging, calming.
Being is becoming is being.
voice for the voiceless, if that sets your heart on fire. Express beauty – or
pain or anger or social injustice or any other important message through a
medium that appeals to you. Change the world, or change your world: it can only
happen through being.
Be the kind of person people want to be with, the kind of person who lives a message, the kind of person whose life deeply touches other people.
Be your passion.
Being gives life meaning and purpose . . . makes a life well lived . . . makes a difference.
Genevieve. Becoming Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life (Book 1)
(pp. 62-64). Kindle Edition.
A change in perspective can bring about healing. I think we often underestimate the importance of spiritual and emotional healing. The wounds aren’t visible, so they’re easy to hide.
But they’re there, causing you pain, stopping you from reaching your potential, leaching the joy from your life, preventing you from finding satisfaction or contentment.
Those wounds were almost always inflicted by someone else. Regardless of whether they intended to hurt you, or not, the wound is there, and it stays because when you got hurt, you accepted a belief about yourself.
You can learn what those beliefs are by looking at the behaviors you have when you feel thwarted or unable to move forward. Eavesdrop on your inner dialogue. Sometimes the words aren’t even expressed but a part of you knows what the words would be.
Examine that belief in the light of day as the adult you are now. Is it really true? Was it ever true? If a powerful swell of emotion rises as you look at that belief to question its validity, emotion that makes you believe it’s true about you, then you have found the one (or one of the ones) causing you trouble.
It’s time to let go of that belief. It isn’t true, it doesn’t serve you, and it keeps the wound from healing. Get an outside perspective from someone who respects you but is uninvolved if you have trouble seeing that the belief has no relevance to you.
I was a cheerleader in high school. Every time we got on the bus for an away game, we would sing: “Everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are! Who we are! So, we tell them! So, we tell them…!”
As we go through our lives, everywhere we go, people want to know who we are. The question is, what do we tell them? And, more importantly, what do we tell ourselves?
I used to tell people that I am a single-mother. I used to tell people that I am a woman business owner. These are two examples of self-labeling that I stopped using.
Now, I tell people that I am a mother. What difference does it make if I am single or married? In the end, I am still a mother, plain and simple. I tell people that I am a business owner, regardless of being a woman.
The labels that we attach to ourselves can, and often do, become a burden in our lives. When people attach labels to their everyday existence, we fall into the trap of limiting beliefs.
One of my favorite stories to tell is the day I told my neighbor that I was “just a secretary”. She responded, “If you really believe that, then you will always be secretary.” Mind blown! It was true. I had limited my life to a single vocation that never had a hope of rising above it. I stopped telling people that, and more importantly, I stopped telling myself that.
What are you telling others and yourself about you? Today, ask yourself, what labels can I remove from my life?
The most difficult apologies to accept are the ones we will never receive. Sometimes, so much time has passed that the person or people who hurt us are no longer a part of our lives. How do we forgive someone who has caused us pain at our deepest levels, when we can’t, or don’t want to, speak to them face-to-face?
Forgiving and forgetting are two very different things. We are physically incapable of forgetting events in our lives, especially those that have caused pain. We are hardwired to remember pain as a means of survival. This is what makes it so difficult to “just let it go”, and creates the trigger effect.
There is no shame in seeking professional services. Millions of people do it every day.
But, what about the every day kind of hurt and pain that is inflicted? Disagreements or misunderstandings between friends and family, or even co-workers? The key is to get the hurt out of your system, before it festers into resentment or worse.
Write about it. Write down every detail of what you remember happened – on paper; not on social media. Create space in your mind and life to do this. After you write it all out, read it to yourself. You may want to read it out loud. Once you have written and read it, tear it up, shred it, or even burn it. Create a symbolic gesture of being done with it.
Meditate on it. Using focusing and visualization techniques, imagine yourself holding your hurt as a balloon and when you are ready, let it go and watch it float away. Again, creating a symbolic gesture of being done with it, and it is no longer a part of who you are. It doesn’t have to be a balloon. Use whatever feels right for you.
Choose to move on. We do not have to continue reliving hurt. We have the power and ability to make the conscious decision to move on. It’s one of those, ‘that was then, this is now’agreements we make with ourselves. It won’t happen overnight, but the more we choose to acknowledge the feelings and then let them go, the easier it becomes and the lesser the hold it has on us.
Live Well. They say the best revenge is living well. Although we have a tendency to hold onto the hurt feelings from the events in our lives, the person who has hurt us isn’t thinking about us at all. They are living their lives as though nothing happened. Hard to accept, but it’s true. Don’t invest in resentment and hurt feelings. The key is to keep our focus on living for our own happiness.
By holding onto pain and other emotions, we anchor ourselves to our past, preventing growth and progress.
We are not saying it was okay to hurt us; we are saying we no longer allow the pain to define us.
When we seek love, beauty, and kindness in the world, the world becomes a much friendlier place. When we seek compassion, mercy, and grace, we open ourselves to positive experiences and leave behind that which insults our soul. Accept the apology you will never get by acknowledging and processing the feelings associated with the event, and then live well ~ for you.