Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.” The same could be said about the response to trauma. There is enough darkness and pain in difficult life experiences, whether it be loss of a loved one, illness or accident. Perhaps the most courageous response to trauma is to continuously shine the light of gentleness upon it.
To be honest, I was not ready to explore the “art of gentleness” until I was completely exhausted and traumatized by post-trauma life! Yes, the face of my trauma was the grill of that transport trailer truck in my driver’s window. However, in the post-accident years, I became more and more aware that I was not only reliving the trauma of the accident. I literally became re-traumatized by people/places/situations/systems that I came in contact with. Life grew darker and darker for me as a spun deeper and deeper into despair. I didn’t understand why “life” continued to beat me up into a pulp.
In hindsight, I can now say that I started to shift my own trauma-based darkness when I stopped beating up myself and started to lay down the “shoulds” of my existence. I stopped clinging so desperately to my old definitions of life that were clearly not working for me anymore. I stopped listening to all the opinions of how I “should” deal with my trauma. In spite of the pain and darkness, I started to go within to listen to my own voice and intuition. Little by little, I started being authentically gentle with myself in every possible way through thought, word and deed.
Then some miraculous things started to happen! As I listened to my inner voice and cultivated true self-gentleness, supportive people and situations started to appear in my life. Self-gentleness is like an inner super power!
Renowned Healer, Coach, Author and Speaker, Mary A. Hall, encourages us to “Honour the dignity of your own experiences.” Wow! Her words speak to my heart. What if we took the most challenging, heart-wrenching traumatic life experiences, laid down our self-judgement and just cultivated self-gentleness? What would life look like/feel like then?
I had a spectacular Valentine’s Day 2016! I spent it with my mother and father. Over steak, eggs and lobster benedict, we discussed health, life and family roots. When leaving, my father gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek. I was deeply touched by this Valentine’s Day gesture. I wondered why. The next day, my friend, Anna, posted a “many moons ago” picture; she was dancing with her gorgeous father. It had a profound impact on me. When I looked at this picture, I saw a strong man who was gently holding his daughter. That picture had the same qualities that I felt with my father’s embrace: Great strength in gentleness or Gentleness in strength.
What if the the key to taking back your power is to start by being gentle with yourself?
Come, come into your power, dear one.
It is not the power of striving, coercing, forcing.
It is the free-flowing gentle power of being who you are, where you are.
The world is full of war, strife and struggle and we need not add to this.
Instead, just for the moment, be strong in your gentleness or gentle in your strength and…
Watch the light of living rise from the darkness.
Photo Credits: Thank you to Anna G for the “Dancing with Father” feature picture. Thank you to Lisa Sharpe for the beautiful header.