What do you think of when I say, "be the light?" Do you think that sounds like a nice idea that people talk about, but don’t really do? I mean, how can a person actually BE the light, right?
What about the times we feel like we're living more in the dark than the light? And what does it say about us when we admire or despise certain qualities in other people?
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So what does it mean to let our light shine, or to “be the light?"
You might not even know what I'm talking about, or perhaps you're afraid of shining bright because you're worried about what people would think of you. Or you might feel like stepping fully into your light would extinguish the light of those around you.
On the flip side, some people can feel like letting the people around them shine will in some way dim their own light. But in my experience, quite the opposite is true.
As Marianne Williamson wrote in her book, A Return To Love: "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
To me, "being the light" doesn't mean being a perfectly positive person who is blissfully happy all the time and never makes mistakes.
It means doing things that make me feel free and peaceful, surrendering control, trusting my intuition, showing compassion and kindness to myself and others, and believing the simple truth that I am enough. It is about bringing light to the places that are dark.
It is about looking for opportunities to lift someone else up. It is about making a conscious effort to do the things I know make my own light shine brighter so I can also help other people recognize the light that is within them.
The idea Marianne writes about—that letting our own light shine helps others shine too—makes me think about something I first learned from Gabby Bernstein that I now know to be a universal truth. I'm paraphrasing here, but the essence was that what you admire in others is a recognition of that thing in you, or, the light you see in others is a reflection of your own light.
For example, I really admire people who get up on stage and give inspiring talks. I resonate with what they're saying, but I also admire the courage and vulnerability they're showing by putting themselves out there in that way.
So, how is what I see in them a reflection of my light?
I think it's reflecting back to me that I identify with wanting to use my voice in a way that helps others. I think it means that I have the desire to express myself in a way that makes me feel like I'm being truthful and authentic.
I think their expression of that light touches me so deeply because I feel aligned with it. And the way I express it might be totally different. I might be able to talk to a friend who’s going through a tough time and bring that vulnerability and authenticity into the conversation so they know they are not alone.
You might just show up for your life day in and day out with more truth and compassion and speak up for yourself more than you used to.
It's not about doing it in exactly the same way, it's about doing it in a way that feels real and true for you. It's about being the lighthouse.
Looking at things from this perspective really changed the way I think about people I admire. To not put them on a pedestal, but to recognize myself in them, as we can all recognize parts of ourselves in everyone we meet if we’re paying attention.
This reflection of light also comes into play when you see something in another person you really don't like, and your shadow is being reflected back at you instead.
Usually, we don't want to feel whatever dark spot they triggered so we lash out or judge them instead.
This can be a tough thing to accept and I'm sure we'd all prefer to believe that what irritates us about other people has nothing to do with us. But as my friend and A Course in Miracles teacher Anne Marie Imperiale said at one of her classes recently, "Somebody can't trigger something in you that's not a trigger." Boom.
Basically, whatever the other person is doing that is pissing you off or pushing your buttons wouldn't bother you as much if there wasn't a part of you that recognized that same behavior in yourself.
In that kind of situation we have two choices. We can be judgmental and attack or we can recognize that the other person is us, be compassionate, and ask how we can help.
One option will help both of us heal and one will make both of us feel worse. Can you guess which is which?
I think extending kindness to someone else struggling with the very thing we struggle with plants a new seed in our brains that we’re not alone in it either. Choosing to bring the light to that situation can help both of us shine a little brighter.
One thing I know for sure is that we all have the ability to let more light into our lives, and I hope some of the things I’ve shared here have helped you tap into how you can see that light in yourself so you can be it and share it.