When “Love & Light” Is Not Enough: What I Learn From Times of Conflict
It’s been a really weird week.
The theme I see recurring in my life over the past week or so is one of being in direct conflict with others. Not everyone, but certainly a very vocal few. These button-pushing battles have brought up some unpleasant emotions in me, including annoyance, frustration, and disgust. Anger and Indignation came along for the ride. A profound sense of sadness has shown up, but also a crystal clear resolve to press on has made her steel-hard, calming presence known. Oh, and then there’s the goddesses (more on them later).
I haven’t felt this way in a long while, but it’s apparently necessary for my personal growth and healing, and necessary for my chosen role as a leader, teacher, guide, coach, public figure and truth-teller. The more that I choose to explore and embrace and express my full self, the more likely I am to encounter folks who don’t like me, don’t get me, don’t approve of me and feel emboldened to let me know. I admit that this is uncomfortable for me as someone who loves to be liked.
The thing is, when you decide to become more visible, more vocal, more vulnerable- you will get tested and you will be challenged. You will be misunderstood, and you will be called out. You may feel totally triggered or unfairly attacked, and these may be gift wrapped and personally delivered to you at a family gathering, by friends/acquaintances/fans on your social media, or from complete strangers. And it will be really weird.
Love & Light aren’t always enough.
I’ve spent so much time cultivating relationships with amazing, super high-vibe people who celebrate each other’s strengths & unique divinity that I forgot what it is like to engage with people who would rather stay small, who are stuck in their pettiness, who thrive on negativity, who are living only in their shadow-self, or who aren’t really interested in creating harmony because discord is their status quo.
Total bummer for my sweet sunny peace-loving hippie Love & Light positivity vibe.
One of the things that I teach with regards to Positivity is that you can still be a positive person without being a Pollyanna; that is, you can still find good things to focus on during difficult times BUT you don’t have to pretend that hard times aren’t hard, that bad things don’t happen, or that you aren’t allowed to show more than just happy feelings. I’d like to add to this that sometimes “Love & Light” are not always enough. Sometimes, the appropriate response to a truly shitty situation IS anger, indignation, annoyance, frustration, disgust, and/or a profound sense of sadness.
Sometimes your circumstances call for you to dig a little deeper until you hit your rocky core, unlock the vault of your shadow-self and show the world a glimpse of your dark side. Not to hurt or harm anyone, but simply to acknowledge that she is there, like a guard dog with bared fangs holding fast to your boundaries. She’s your warrior-goddess self, and she’s a total bad-ass. Need a firm boundary set with someone who chronically oversteps and makes you feel like a victim? Embrace your warrior-goddess self. She takes NO SHIT. She is crystal clear on her role, and when you call up her energy in your life you can bet that whatever you need to handle is as good as done.
What I am learning from times of conflict is that authenticity matters. Speaking my truth and using my voice matters. Empowering others to be their true self by modeling it in my own life, matters. After going through so many years of either hiding or denying or obstructing the parts of my true self that didn’t appeal to the masses, or didn’t appeal to my family, or didn’t appeal to my romantic partners, I am now becoming much more comfortable with just being me- even when it invariably rubs some people the wrong way.
There is an incredible truth and freedom to be found in the statement, Your opinion of me is none of my business. I used to be so hung up on trying to gain approval from a wide group of people, that I lost sight of needing to be true to myself first and foremost. I worried that if someone had a low opinion of me that it meant I was somehow wrong or broken or unlovable, but that is just not true. I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, nor do I want to be. If you love me and what I have to offer, that great! If you don’t, that’s okay too and I hope you find what you’re looking for. None of it matters if I don’t love myself enough to show up as me.
In learning to be your true, authentic self- Light & Shadow, Strength & Weakness, Wisdom & Folly- is the essence of a life of integrity. Some people will only be able or willing to see the parts of you that appeal to them, and will reject the rest. Some people won’t even be able to see anything appealing in you. It’s okay. Their rejection, though painful, doesn’t reflect on you; it simply reveals who they are and where they are on their journey. Don’t let that stop you from discovering and embracing and expressing your whole, weird, wonderful self. That’s how your people will find you.
And Now, The Goddesses
Here’s a weird thing about me: I’m fascinated with goddess energy- not so much from a religious or worship-centered place, but more so from the timeless characteristics these archetypal beings represent and how they can fuel us in everyday life.
I can remember as a young girl being so drawn to studying Greek and Roman mythology, and later Egyptian mythology, while also being as enamored with witchcraft and sorcery as I was with the stories of Jesus the Christ and ancient Hebrew prophets performing miracles of healing and such. To me, there are valuable life lessons to be found in all of these and personally I think it’s weird to accept some of them as absolute, let’s-start-a-war, capital-T Truth, but to dismiss the rest as utter nonsense or worse, as “dangerous” beliefs.
Here’s a brief alphabetical look at my bad-ass, warrior-goddess crew. These are my ride-or-die, steel-core, bad-ass babes whose energy I tap into whenever I need to find my backbone and do some really hard work:
Anut (Egyptian) – a warrior goddess, defender of the sun god & protector of the king in battle.Athena (Greek) – strategic genius who preferred using wisdom to settle disputes.Bast (Egyptian) – war goddess of lower Egypt who protected the Pharaoh in battle. Macha (Irish) – a wild goddess who battles against injustices to women & childrenMinerva (Roman) – basically the Roman version of AthenaNike (Greek) – goddess of victory, whether in battle or in peaceful competitionPele (Hawaiian) – pissed off volcano goddess who will burn shit to the ground when necessary
With these recent weeks being filled with a series of annoying personal conflicts, I’ve found myself going back to craving some time with my favorite goddesses. I have felt their nudges in my soul reminding me that it’s okay to speak up, to speak out, or to stand my ground. Not over petty shit, but over things that rattle my core. Their fierce & fiery energies remind me that my boundaries are in place for a good reason, and that I have every right to defend them. That I am WHO I AM, and who I am evolving to be, and who I am learning to love deeply, without apology for my existence.
Love First, Love Last
I will always first try to resolve conflicts with Love and Reason and Wisdom and Understanding. I will make every effort to respond honestly and lovingly when I am called out, whether it is to defend or correct or educate. I will always try to see all sides of an argument before making a decision. I may choose to disengage from the battle with you, if it is a fool’s errand to continue. I may sever the relationship and create a lava-strewn wall between us, if it becomes necessary, but even then- I will send you Love from the other side and hope that it finds you well.