Virtus Daily Blog #14 - Losing My Grace Was Hard; Finding It Again Was Harder
I spend much of my time listening to others problems and giving them advice. I don’t often take the time to ask for my own help, or listen to advice being gifted. This is ego, and ego isn’t a bad thing. In fact, ego helps us build an identity that sets us apart from everyone else. But there’s a darker side to the ego. It’s a side that tells you “you’re perfect” just the way you are, that you know what is best. It slowly chips away at your ability to navigate your world socially, which will affect your psychologically. I’m no expert, but I look around and don’t have to wonder at the ‘why’ of higher rates of teen suicide. But maybe we can save ourselves, one day at a time.
“I know better”.
The ego will tell you this, based solely on your personal experiences. But this ego is a trickster, a liar, a demon. We want to think we are the hero of our own stories, but in going at it alone you risk overwhelming odds that are not in your favour. Being buried in the suffocating darkness of your own ego stunts growth. Put a plant in a dark room and try this for yourself. You can water it every day in the very best quality soil, but if the environment does not provide the opportunity for the light your plant will be stunted, and will wither. The light is our ally, that friend of yours who has experienced something similar in the past, or going through it currently. Your parent, your sibling, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your boss. We can find the light in any who genuinely want to take the time out of their day to listen to your story and impart some advice.
“Losing my grace was hard…”
smoothness and elegance of movement.
"she moved through the water with effortless grace"
elegance, stylishness, poise, finesse, charm
courteous good will.
"he had the good grace to apologize to her afterwards"
courtesy, courteousness, politeness, manners, good manners, mannerliness, civility, decorum, decency, propriety, breeding, respect,
Grace does not have to solely be defined as a religious term for ‘the Favour of God’, but ultimately it is loosely based around being infused with the best parts of the world around you and being able to impart those ‘best parts’ on others. In essence, we are all our own ‘God’, and we can grant anyone our favour, or our ‘grace’ as is defined above. But it’s critical to understand that this COMES from us, therefore we must be able to find it within ourselves. In a world that is fast becoming dependant on external validation, finding grace within yourself can be tricky. It’s not something you’ll know you have lost until you hit rock bottom and hurt yourself, or someone else, terribly. I did both, and it took a meaningful conversation with some extraordinary people to help me find my feet in the darkness. I was born to fight, and with that mindset came an inherent ‘resistance’ to everything around me. Including advice. That was how I learned about the traps I had created for myself. My ego wasn’t done, I was down and for all accounts out, too. But it wanted to take more from me. I had to stop fighting and let go to know the freedom that awaited me beyond the darkness. And my ego lost all the power.
“How can you love someone and not yourself”.
Alter Bridge, ‘Watch Over You’. A song about facing the demon of addiction through the eyes of the addict, and through the loved ones watching helplessly on.
“I won’t succumb to this circumstance, because I know better.”,
“I don’t need to bother with this, because I know better”,
“Why won’t anyone listen to my advice, because I know better”.
I’ve had this song in my ears for many years, but have never truly listened to. It’s a lyric I sing under my breath when I hear the song, but ironically I’m just hearing the sound and not listening to the music. There’s something in that. Are we truly actively listening to what we need, what we want, and what impact we’re having on others? Or are we passively hearing, and just navigating through the fog of noise, joining the chorus of sound that everyone else is trying to make?
Are you trying so hard to be heard you’ve lost your own voice amongst the others? I certainly did. But further still, are we truly giving to ourselves? Or giving it all away to others around us. If you aren’t letting go of what you are, you can never become what you need to be. This goes for work, for school, for friends and family, and for significant others.
“How can you love someone and not yourself?”.
“Stop. Breath. Turn and face the sun”
Being confronted by your demons is always a challenge, but ultimately the only way we can truly redeem our honour is to first acknowledge those demons exist, and they fear the light just as we fear the darkness. You won’t find these demons when times are good, they come out when your hope is failing and you feel the light is lost. They prey on you when you are most vulnerable.
“Stop. Breathe. Turn and face the sun” is advice I’ve received from my friend Greg, and it is truly wonderful advice to serve those suffering in darkness. Even when you feel all is lost, you can find the sun. It’s always there, even on the cloudiest day. But do not ignore the shadows at your back. Your demons lurk there. When we rely solely on the light our ego creeps back in and gives us a false sense of security. It’s terrifying to consider that our path may not always be bathed in the light; sometimes we have to face the shadows of our self to truly move forward.
Note: we never get ‘less afraid’, we get braver.
“Confronting your demons”
I invite you now to stop, breathe, and with your new found courage turn to face the darkness. With the light at your back, and your allies to support you, you can now start confronting your demons head on. Remember, they fear the light. They fear you when you are at your least vulnerable. Like any bully, they don’t expect you to fight back. The scariest, and hardest thing I ever had to do was look myself in the mirror and say out loud “What can I do right now to make my life, and my day, be a little bit less not-good. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because I am not perfect. It just needs to be a little bit less not-good.”
“We must take a breath, and know that to enter the labyrinth and battle the demon is the only way forward. But we neither enter, nor battle, alone.
Furthermore, we need not even risk the adventure alone. For the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known.
We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a God. Where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."
- Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949)
I have a long way to go, but every day brings more courage. I make mistakes frequently, but I’m not afraid of the consequences of those mistakes, I long for the lessons they will impart. Look yourself in the mirror, and confront your demons. You’ll never know true grace until you do.