Befriending My Dark Side

Somedays I feel more insecure about my current creative practice than I did when I posted my first design for sale on Etsy, 11 years ago. These strange, pandemic-y days with a splash of recession will sometimes have me feeling lost at sea for much longer periods of time. The new normal hasn't normalized yet. Maybe you’re feeling this way too. 

It’s true that all systems eventually break down to make way for something new. My rational mind knows this is true, but my heart sometimes takes a bit longer to catch up. There has been so much change, especially in how we connect with each other, that it can open us up to falling into some not so great patterns. Parts of myself that I had thought I had worked through come popping back up again, often in unexpected ways (and usually when I haven’t slept well or have been staring at my phone too much…)

Then I remember when I’m feeling down in the dumps, unsure of how to put one foot in front of the other, I am being summoned to step over a threshold. There are two ways we can look at our dark side: 

1) it keeps me safe from risk 

2) it shows me the pathway to my full creative power

The first thing is kind of like the primal brain, survival thing. The dark side wants to keep us locked in comfortable cozy patterns that are predictable and seemingly safe, even if those patterns are actually causing us an undercurrent of harm. If our usual patterns involve feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and the illusion of being unloved, then our mind will work to keep us in this place simply because it’s familiar. It has nothing to do with what’s actually healthy for us, or what our authentic self really wants.

The second thing is where the magic lies. What we tend to think of as emotions and feelings that keep us from pursuing our full potential are the exact ingredients needed in order to reach it. These icky feelings of insecurity, feeling inadequate or unworthy, are necessary parts of our journey. When I can take a step back and view these hard feelings for what they are, big huge red flags lining the path of exactly where I need to go, then I have direction again. Instead of viewing every hard moment as being a personal assault on my being I see the moment for the symbolic lesson that it really is, which is always: an invitation to embrace my power.

Every one of us has overcome great personal blocks. We know the feeling of finally trying a new route, or a new way of doing something. We have experienced this liberating feeling before, and we will experience it again. That moment when I launched something new, learned how to play an instrument, reached out to someone that I wanted to become friends with, I felt my whole being changed. I felt lighter. The dark side was a little dimmer, a little quieter, and my insecurity loosened its grip just a little bit more. That’s the nature of the dark side. Always present, but a little less each time. It was just a matter of finally looking at the little thing that was hiding in the dark.

So if you’re feeling stuck, lost, unsure of how to follow your creative visions or even what your creative visions are, allow yourself to feel the pain of that. But then let it go. Begin again. Shine a light on the truth of what’s hiding in your dark side and ask it to come forward. The more that we can all do this, the more nurturing our creativity will be, the better our art will become, and the better we will be to each other. And maybe, more than anything, that is what matters.