Dark photo with candle

Getting Comfortable with the Dark

How many of us were afraid of the dark as children? And how did we get the idea that the dark is scary? Maybe you had cousins like I did who were obsessed with horror movies and scary masks. Or maybe you were exposed to fairy tales with scary witches and things that go bump in the night. Or maybe you were prone to nightmares making the oncoming dark sleep time anxiety producing.

I suspect it’s just part of human nature to be wary of the dark. Most of us rely heavily on our sight which is greatly crippled when darkness falls. Consider the times humans existed outdoors and the nocturnal creatures began to stir. Perhaps drawn to our fires and the smell of our cooking. Wolves and big dark cats. Predators with presence and power. You can begin to see how it’s possible to be wary of the dark.

The problem is, in our modern world with so many of us safe inside at night, we are still afraid of the dark. We cling desperately to the light.

  • We refuse to face the dark chapters of our history
  • We turn away from any darkness inside us
  • We choose to “focus on the positive”

These are just a few examples.

I find this mentality especially prevalent in many personal development and spiritual circles. I find the focus on “love and light” and The Law of Attraction the most off putting.

Now, I can see how these things would be attractive and even well meaning. However, I believe they can be harmful. There is nothing wrong with love and light if it comes with acknowledging a person’s situation and taking action where needed. However, it is often used as a way to bypass pain and suffering. It’s that fearful part of us turning away from the dark.

With the Law of Attraction I can see the merit of positive thinking. However, this can again bypass and ignore lived experiences and lead to shame and self-doubt when the positive thinking doesn’t work. It can blame the victim for their situation. Assuming they didn’t believe enough in what they wanted or have enough gratitude to get them out of the situation.

Both of these come from a place of privilege for those of us who can afford to turn away from the dark. There are those without that privilege who live in the dark every day.

If you want to read more about this idea, I recommend this article.

All this not to say that I am above it all. I turn away from the dark all the time. I am not immune to the charms of leveraging my privilege and bypassing pain and suffering. Yet I have begun to see the power of getting comfortable with the dark. I’ve experienced how sitting with and accepting my painful and dark parts can result in a shift to new behaviors and patterns. I have begun to notice how much more fully I appreciate the light when I see the darkness.

And I’ve come to believe that we need both. That wholeness includes both dark and light. A 24 hours with day and night.

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