In the last decade, there’s been a trend in the New Age spirituality circles.
When we feel sad, bad, or mad, we put “love and light” on it as a prayer and remedy.
We usually say this to offer a way to see past the darkness of whatever situation a person is in. So we send “love” and then we send “light” in efforts to clear away the clouds, so to speak.
Now, “love and light” is beautiful medicine, and we really do need more of it right now. But as with all medicine, if we don’t take or use it properly, it can actually cause harm.
It was a few years back when someone first told me to put “love and light” on my pain. I had been deep in the middle of a breakdown and couldn’t see my way out of it. Looking back, things were stirring up and needing to surface. But I just couldn’t see it all yet.
A friend, noticing my pain, told me not to focus on it; rather, I should put prayers of “love and light” around me and all would be well. She might’ve meant well, but it really jarred my system and something didn’t feel right about it at all.
Here’s the thing, we are all wounded, all of us. And very few of us know how to cope, treat, or heal those wounds. But we are learning. In fact, our learning curve has never been steeper than it is right now.
But while I appreciate the sentiment of love and light, there are moments when directing it to a wound is like throwing a Band-Aid on an infection and hoping it will magically disappear.
Love and light, as a medicine, has to be applied at the right time and for the right reasons. Looking back at my breakdown, I was not at a point where “love and light” were helpful to me at all. Instead, I needed to sit in the darkness with my pain, and not run from it. I needed encouragement that this journey into my darkness was real, healthy, and required.
When not to put “love and light” on a wound
What we’re really talking about are emotional wounds. Physical wounds are more accessible because we can see them, and as a culture, we know more about treating them. But emotional wounds—this is new territory for us.
My breakdown was prompted by deep emotional wounds from childhood trauma. I knew what happened, but I had forgotten or couldn’t access the feeling memory of it.
Many of us have sustained trauma as children and some of us have zero memory of it. Others may have a logical memory, but not a feeling memory. This means, we know what happened on a logical level, but we’ve forgotten the feeling of it.
Our psychological protection system helps us forget because we can’t manage the weight of it on our young nervous systems.
But this wound festers over time, and we get to a place where we need to heal it in our adult years. My breakdown was my body and soul telling me, “This wound is hurting me, and I need to dig it up and look at it.” But at that time, I didn’t know what the wound was about, only that I was experiencing pain that had no explanation.
This, my friends, is not the right time to put love and light on a wound.
When to put “love and light” on a wound
A wound needs to breathe first. It needs air, cleaning, acknowledgment, and time to be seen. It needs to be known and understood. When we put “love and light” on a wound before we’ve done any of this, it only festers further.
At this point, “love and light” is the same as abandoning our wounds, and thus, we abandon ourselves. We want it gone because we can’t stand the pain. And this is why we feel weird when we’re told to cover our darkness with “love and light.”
Not only does this not work, but it also delays our healing, creating more profound and complex scars that cause further damage to our lives.
During my breakdown, I needed time to go inside my wounds and uncover what wasn’t known to me. What happened to me? That was first and foremost. We can’t heal anything we know nothing about.
So I embarked on a long journey of discovery where I allowed the darkness to surface in its own time. Most importantly, I allowed the darkness to be dark, without needing to fix, cover, or make it nicer than it was.
Sometimes we know what happened to us and that’s great. But we still need to remember the feeling of it. How did we feel at the time the trauma occurred? How do we feel about it now? Where in our bodies can the trauma be felt? All of these questions I had to ask myself and slowly discover the answers over time.
Then, once we pull up all the logical and feeling memories about our wounds, only then can we put love and light on it, my friends. Only at that time does the “love and light” medicine give us precisely what we need.
We may be tempted at this point to stay within the darkness of it. To fester with reasons, the why’s, the “how could this happen to me.” But there’s no point to any of that. And that’s where “love and light” are transformational.
Because once the wound is revealed, “love and light” ensures that we remain with the joyful parts of ourselves while making sure that the wound never goes into hiding again.
For me, once I got through the excavation part, I found that I could respond to wishes and prayers for “love and light” much better. It made sense to me then. Because my pain was seen and understood, “love and light” no longer felt like a silencing tactic, but actual medicine.
Why do we often put “love and light” on our wounds before the time is right?
For one, we’re just confused. As I said, we don’t know a lot about emotional wounds and how to heal them.
But more so, we just don’t want to deal with these wounds at all. It’s so painful to dredge up those logical and feeling memories. And we are just so conditioned to avoid this stuff, aren’t we?
We don’t understand, and we don’t really want to feel any of it, so “love and light” seem like the best way to cope. It’s all relatively innocent, and most of the time, we have good intentions.
But now, we need to understand the “love and light” medicine so we can use it properly in the service of our well-being.
When “love and light” is weaponized
Here’s where it gets tricky, my friends. There’s an unfortunate trend going around these days where “love and light” are actually being weaponized to silence people.
We can’t let this happen, because “love and light” medicine is not meant to be weaponized; it’s supposed to be used for good.
When I say “weaponized,” I’m referring to people who tell others to just put “love and light” on things before they’re ready. Often this is done right at the time when their wounds are beginning to surface. It is used as a silencing mechanism rather than the good medicine that it is.
People do this for one reason only: because our wounds bring up their wounds. In some ways, this can be helpful because we often see ourselves in each other, and this can help further our self-discovery.
But often, people prefer to run away and hide, and they don’t like it when other people’s wounds touch their own. Sometimes they even feel guilty, which makes them angry. So they use “love and light” to silence the other, so they don’t have to feel their own pain.
We are seeing this more and more these days as people are speaking up about sexual assault, misogyny, racism, and many other traumas that have been silenced for generations.
I think my friend thought she was trying to help me during my breakdown. But she didn’t realize that my pain made her uncomfortable. When she told me to turn away from my pain in favor of “love and light,” it was a silencing mechanism and that’s why it didn’t feel right to me.
If you do this, please take a moment to understand the pain inside of you and work on healing and feeling for yourself. Know that pain is not the enemy. In fact, it’s something we all feel and have to sort through at some point in our lives.
If you want to truly help, you can simply say, “I hear you.” I promise those words will mean everything to the person in pain.
And if someone has silenced you with “love and light,” recognize that they’re in pain too and they don’t want to feel it. Something in you has triggered something profound for them. The safest thing to do is to wish them kindness, leave them to their own space, and go tend your own wounds.
“Love and light” is amazing medicine, and we do need it more than ever.
But we need to use it at the right time and for the right reasons.
First, we must feel and understand our wounds. And even though it’s hard, we often need to roam in the darkness with our wounds in order to understand them fully.
This can take a lot of time, and we may need the support from a trusted therapist or energy worker to help us through this. We can’t rush it and we can’t put more Band-Aids on top of it.
Then, once we’ve excavated and exposed the wound and all its darkness, only then can we shower the wound with “love and light” medicine.
And actually, when the time is right, “love and light” can become the most transformative and healing medicine of all.