This is one of my all-time favourite quotes and I just think it so beautifully sums up so many things and reminds us to find the light within us. I first came across it shortly after the suicide death of someone close to our family and it made me cry, because I wondered how the one we lost was unable to see his own astonishing Light when everyone around him could see it so clearly. And I wondered how someone could be in such pain with no one having been aware of it. And then I remembered how, when many years ago I was in the same dark place, I was also very good at hiding it. You learn to camouflage the pain. You learn to exist (notice I said “exist” and not “live”) in the dark place. Until one day the hopelessness becomes more than you can bear, and non-existence becomes the only option you can see anymore.
It is in these times that we most need to understand that the light we so desperately seek is always within us, even when we can’t seem to find it. What is even more important to understand, though, is that the light is only within us; we will never find it by looking outside us, because it is not there. What we see on the outside is only, and always, a reflection of what we are focused on inside.
This is why mental health issues such as depression are so insidious. How do you find the light within when your mind no longer seems like your own, when your thoughts are no longer the place of refuge and safety they used to be? How do we find the light within when, in the soul-sucking darkness that we feel ourselves trapped in, we’ve all but forgotten what that light looks and feels like?
I believe that in these times the answers are still within. Happiness is still within. The Light is still within. These things are always there and they cannot be stolen or taken away from us, no matter what. They can, however, seem hidden at times. And these times are probably among the loneliest we can ever experience as human beings.
It is in these times that we need to just stop and breathe. Stop. Breathe. And then find something to focus on that feels a little bit better than where we are now. Just the tiniest bit better is all you need because it’s a scaffolding process – every time we find a little bit better feeling, we automatically build on it, making it easier to achieve each time until, suddenly, we realize that we have found our own light again.
What we seek is always within – all the answers, all the knowing, all the direction, all the happiness, all you could ever hope to ask for, is already there inside. We can only see on the outside what we have already found within. Everything around us, everything in our experience is just a reflection of what we have focused on within ourselves. If we want the light, we must first find it inside us if we want to see it around us. It may seem hard at first, and may take the greatest of efforts in the beginning. But it does get easier. And I’m not saying that there will never be any darkness again – there will – but what happens is that when a dark episode hits, you become absolutely secure in the knowledge that it will pass.
The key to getting to this state lies in changing our internal beliefs and how we see ourselves and the world around us. When we believe we are ill, when we believe we are broken, when we surround ourselves with all the facts and figures and opinions of everyone else around us, when we subscribe to the belief that we have to focus on what’s wrong in order to “fix” it, we make these things our reality. We disallow the well-being that is inherent in each and every one of us. We negate our own power. We smother our own light.
But what if, instead of fixating on what’s wrong (by obsessing about it, labelling it, defining it, hating it, raging against it, etc.), we just let it go and focused, if only for the smallest of instances, on what’s right, on what feels good, on what makes us happy, or at the very least, on what makes us “less miserable”?
When we feel ourselves at the precipice of that downward spiral, we need to just stop, take a deep breath and deliberately choose to focus on anything else; a flower; the colour of a bird’s feathers; the theme song to a children’s show that drives us nuts; Lady Gaga’s latest fashion statement; how they really get the caramel in the Caramilk bar. What if we just shift our focus, change our thoughts and change our worlds?
I am not a mental illness. You are not a mental illness. What people see right now, is a result of the past. It is not who we are right now. Because at any given moment, even at this very instant, we each have the power to choose how we feel. And if we do that for just a little bit every day, if we make it a point to focus on one happy thing and deliberately choose to feel good, for even just a few minutes every day, it makes a world of difference.
It allows us to see our own Light once again.