Earlier this week, self-help author Debbie Ford passed away at the too-young age of 57. I was introduced to her work by a friend who gave me a copy of “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.” Yeah, I know – awful title. But the point of the book is really interesting: namely, that our “dark” side is a necessary part of who we are. That notion really got me to thinking.
I’m told that I was a pretty happy kid. I still tend to view life on the sunny side. On the occasion that I’m feeling less than cheery, or just have a “meh” look on my face, someone will invariably say, “Hey…smile!” Super-annoying.
The message is clear: tantrums, moods and other “dark” things are not welcome in this over-medicated world of ours.
But Ford’s book encourages us to embrace those parts of ourselves. They are vital pieces of the puzzle that make us who we are, the yin to the yang. And flipping your “dark” side over on its soft white underbelly can reveal some powerful insights.
I know a woman who, for years, chronically played “the good girl,” always sweet, giving and polite. But there were a few occasions when she threw a righteous temper-tantrum. I’m talking the red-faced, object-throwing, furniture-rattling kind. Clearly, her “dark” side wanted out. It was showing her that she had power, the kind she denied herself in her quest to always be sunny and light. Once she accepted her ability to get angry, she was more fully herself. She finally got the guts to stand up to her overbearing boyfriend (’cause he didn’t want to see the red-faced version of her. For real). And fewer objects got broken.
One of my guilty pleasures is “Star Trek.” There was an episode where, after a transporter malfunction, Captain Kirk got “split” into his good half and his bad half. After causing plenty of havoc and confusion, Kirk realized that he needed the icky side to make him the kick-ass space cowboy that he was. Check out the awesome ham-tastic acting!
In the metaphysical world,there’s a lot of talk about “living the light,” being positive, etc. This might sound like we want to avoid the darker parts of ourselves — but to be a fully-integrated human being, we need to acknowledge and work with them. That’s part of our spiritual challenge. Acting like a junior pageant queen 24/7 will get you nowhere. Except, perhaps, committed. RIP, Debbie Ford.