August 9, 2021

Why we Need to Stop Shaming People for Feeling Sad.


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In spiritual communities, especially recently, I’ve noticed an increasing tendency for people to say things like, “Only light and love,” or, “Only think positive thoughts, otherwise you’re creating bad things in your life.”

Some people teach and preach that the only way to live a good life is to have only good thoughts and emotions and deny anything that isn’t “light.”

This is not only a false belief, but also one that is almost impossible for a human to attain.

The universe as a whole doesn’t consist solely of positivity, light, and good vibes. Even in the most basic aspects of the universe, there is a balance between light and darkness, and this balance does, and must, exist in all life within the universe. The role of light isn’t to conquer darkness, but to balance it.

The universe is based on the principle of balance. Since we’re created in the image of the ultimate creative force of the universe, we, too, need to exist in balance. This need for balance applies to our external lives: for example, it’s important to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and structure our lives to include balance between work and rest. Having balance in our internal lives and emotions is equally important.

When most of us wake up in the morning, we see daylight. The sun may be out or may be obscured by clouds, but still, there is light outside our windows. That light doesn’t last though. Over the passing hours, as our planet turns, the sun shifts position and eventually sets. This allows darkness to fall and gives us night, when many of us sleep and refresh ourselves for the following day. Without darkness, we wouldn’t have night. Without night, our lives would be out of balance.

Similarly, many of us have times in our lives when we feel happiness and joy. We love and we play. We have positive moments and feelings. But if those were the only moments, the only feelings, would they mean as much? Or do we value them more because they are balanced by times of sadness, grief, and loss?

Telling people to only feel positively and shaming them for having negative emotions doesn’t help them in anyway. In fact, it can cause them to feel bad about themselves when they realize that those emotions still happen no matter how hard they try. Worse, telling them not to feel a certain way can cause people to deny and suppress how they feel rather than addressing the feelings, sometimes to the point where they no longer even recognize their own emotions.

For people who are healing from past traumas, this rhetoric is even more harmful. Telling someone who has been abused or otherwise harmed that they aren’t allowed to feel anger toward those who hurt them, and aren’t even allowed to feel hurt by what they’ve experienced, negatively impacts the healing process.

You can’t heal what you don’t acknowledge. Denying the emotions caused by the experiences leads to denying the experiences themselves and this can keep people from progressing in their healing journeys.

To be spiritual beings and to progress in our healing journeys and life paths, we need to find our inner balance between light and darkness, just as we see the universal balance between the two in every 24-hour cycle of our lives. We need to teach ourselves—our whole selves—that however we feel is acceptable so long as we refrain from reacting to those feelings in ways that harm others or ourselves.

When we learn to live in balance, our light becomes brighter because we aren’t expending energy to hide our darker aspects. We become more authentic because we aren’t pretending to be someone we aren’t. Our light attracts others who have been harmed, because they, too, have darker aspects they’ve been told are unacceptable and need to be eliminated.

Recognizing that light and dark are two sides of the same coin and that neither is right or wrong brings us to a place where not only are we living more in alignment with who we are and why we’re here, but we’re better able to help others find that balance in their lives too.

Healing means allowing emotions to happen without judging them and without judging yourself for having them, while working to use non-harmful  actions and words in response to those emotions. It means knowing that even your darkest aspects have a place and that denying them existence is exacerbating the rejection and harm that created them in the first place.

It means accepting that you, as a human being, are a creature of light and shadow, just as the universe itself is a place of brightness and darkness, and that to be whole you must accept and acknowledge your whole self—even the parts whose darkness and negativity frightens you.

Similarly, helping others heal means helping them realize that there is no part of them that is “bad” or “wrong.” There are simply parts they need to accept and learn to work with.

Helping others requires full acceptance of them, all of them, and aiding them in accepting and managing themselves. Healing yourself requires full acceptance of yourself.

Denying darkness doesn’t erase it. Healing isn’t making something go away; it’s learning to live and work with it in harmony and balance, just as the universe at its core is in harmony and balance with itself.

This, according to my guides, is the true meaning of “light work.” Not living in a state of all light all the time, but living in balance between light and darkness, and shining light upon the darkness to enable ourselves to live a fuller life in which we embrace and respect all aspects of ourselves.

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