Of Light & Shadow: Learning to Appreciate the Chaos

Of Light & Shadow: Learning to Appreciate the Chaos March 12, 2021

Can I be blunt for just a minute? Life sucks sometimes. Things happen that shake up your world, or sometimes even turn it completely upside down. Oftentimes it happens so unexpectedly, too, that it feels like utter chaos. Maybe you (or your partner/spouse) lost a job and your primary source of income to support you and your family. Perhaps a long-term romantic relationship came to an unfortunate (or maybe even ugly) end. There’s also family drama that you get sucked into, either intentionally or by association. Health concerns are sometimes unpredictable, which could happen to you or a close loved one. And there’s sometimes, or maybe often, financial woes. Sometimes, like this past year with the pandemic, all of these things happen at once – all seemingly completely out of your control.

Everything seems to be completely out of your control. Image by Free-Photos via Pixabay.

This list is very general and vague, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on and on into the details of these experiences, but that little bit isn’t relevant to what I want to say. I think you get the picture. Sometimes these things all happen at once, and it feels like the world has come crashing down on you. Sometimes it feels like life keeps beating you with a big stick that sends you flying backwards. Or the old phrase “one step forward and two steps back” applies here, too. Chances are, though, you’ve experienced at least one of these in your lifetime.

Before I go any further, I think it’s important to understand that, if you are struggling to the point where you cannot cope on a daily basis, or if you are thinking of harming yourself or others, please seek out a mental health professional. I can’t stress this enough. While there are things you can do from a spiritual perspective, this should not be done as a substitute for any sort of professional assistance you might need. I am a firm believer in a holistic approach – tackling it from multiple angles.

In one of my previous articles, When Life Kicks You Down (Kick Back), I spoke on the difficulties of life and facing your doubts and fears. But what I’d like to talk about today veers off on a related tangent for a bit. And that is learning to appreciate these times for what they bring to you – learning to appreciate the hard times.

I’ve had my fair share of this kind of stuff, starting from an early age and continuing throughout my life. And it felt like things just kept cycling through for years and years. The same things came up, and no matter how prepared I thought I was, things kept happening. It all weighs down on you until you break down and scream for the chaos to stop. And sometimes it feels like just when things are going well, something else comes crashing down on you. Sometimes it feels like the universe has it out for you.

Sometimes it feels like the universe has it out for you. Image by ArtTower via Pixabay.

The Turning Point

But what if that’s not true? That’s a rhetorical question – of course it’s not true. There are so many individual factors, many out of your control, that can lead to these events. You’ve got to consider the free will and actions of other people, the conditions of the situation, and perhaps even the cultural, educational, political, and economic factors of the world around you. All of these little tiny pieces put together can affect any given situation, and one minor change in one can cause a whole change or reaction. Something like the “butterfly effect”, if you will. As much as you might want to point fingers at someone, you can’t simply say “the gods hate me” or “the universe is out to get me”.

So what then? Is there nothing that can be done? Well, yes and no. These things are bound to happen, but what if you could try to look at it from a different light?

Of all the things that have happened to me in life, I can assure you that it’s made me stronger. It used to annoy me that my tarot birth card was Strength and that it seemed to be a continuous word thrown at me throughout my whole life. But I’ve changed my view on that. Now, I use it to my advantage. And this is not an egotistical thing to say “YES! I am strong.” It’s learning to understand and wear that armor of strength.

The Strength Box

I’m going to share a practice of mine that has worked for me over the years. One little practical tip that I started doing many years ago – and I can’t tell you when or where I started doing this. I didn’t really pick it up from any particular source. It was just something I started doing. Any time that life feels like too much, I go to my “strength box”. It’s this ethereal box that contains “strength energy” that you keep on reserve for later use.

Where does this energy come from? I can’t say. Image by tookapic via Pixabay.

Where does this energy come from? I can’t say. Perhaps it can be something you add to when you have extra energy. Perhaps, as in my case, it’s something you feel is connected to the energy of the universe. Or perhaps it’s entirely a psychological means of coping. I have my own thoughts on the matter and my own way of “setting up” the box, and it helps. I’m not going to overthink it. I feel that overthinking it makes it less real.

Go to this space while you meditate. If you have trouble meditating, just close your eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. If you can, go to that quiet, sacred space in your mind. Imagine, in your mind’s eye, that there is a box. Stop and inspect it for a moment – what does it look like? How big is it? What shape is it? What color is it? Are there any designs, patterns, or shapes on the box? How does it feel when you touch it? The more you can envision it, and the more time you spend in your ethereal space, the more real it becomes.

When you need a little “boost” of energy, envision yourself, while meditating, opening this box. Imagine yourself taking a little bit of the energy inside and absorbing it into you. Imagine it giving you the strength, courage, and confidence to get through the hard times. Be sure to thank the source of the energy, be it a deity, the Universe, or even yourself. Return to this box as much as needed.

You have the strength to get through this. Image by Donna Carbone via Pixabay.

What Next?

You’ll find memes and inspirational quotes all over the internet that will tell you that “you’re stronger than you know” or “you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for”. And you know what? As cliché as it might seem, they are absolutely true. Don’t sell yourself short. You have the strength to get through this. You have people by your side. If you don’t feel like you have the support of your family or friends, then rely on your spirit allies, whether that be guides, ancestors, or deities. And as I mentioned, if you feel that you cannot handle things alone, then don’t. Seek out professional help. I rely on a little of all of them, to be honest.

You can’t forget what happened to you. It doesn’t make the pain go away. And by no means does it excuse what happened to you. You have every right to the emotion you are feeling, so in no way should those be invalidated. And it absolutely will not prevent things from happening. But, perhaps going through these experiences prepares you for the future. Perhaps you can pick up the mantle of strength and persevere. Wear your crown of sovereignty and your cloak of strength. These tools empower you to face the chaos in the future.

So why am I appreciative of the chaos? Because it has made me stronger. I’ve learned the power of setting boundaries. I’ve learned the power of saying no. I’ve learned to stand up for myself. I’ve learned that, no matter what my anxious brain tells myself, I MATTER. I am worthy of love. And I’ve learned the true meaning and power behind saying “enough!”. But most importantly, I’ve learned to embrace my Strength.

About Charlie Larson
Charlie Larson has been a practicing eclectic pagan and witch since 2001. He is a linguist, a teacher, teacher trainer, and a writer within the field of international education, and he holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. He has also studied psychology and is trained by Mental Health First Aid USA. He has been a writer of poetry and fiction for most of his life and is currently working on non-fictional works under the umbrella of paganism and witchcraft. He works a lot with energy healing (including reiki), shadow work, devotional paganism, animal spirits, crystals, divination, and candle magic. He currently resides in the heart of Silicon Valley in California with his menagerie of furbabies and enjoys reading, writing, hiking, gaming, and learning languages. You can read more about the author here.
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