Look at Things With a "New Light"
Updated: Feb 15
Are you observing your life with the glaring spotlight of judgment or a beautiful lamp of awareness? Your choice of lighting makes all the difference.
Through most of my adult life I have been pretty consistent at shining a harsh light on my struggles. When my weight would creep back up after I worked so hard to loose it, I would focus on the frustration and the helplessness. I remember promising myself I would no longer eat sugar, only to sugar binge, crazy-style, less than a week later and choosing to beat myself up over it.
What we know about Spotlights
They cast a very direct and harsh light. Everything we look at with the severe light of judgment looks so much worse. All we can see are the flaws and errors the spotlight is highlighting.
All the surroundings disappear. Any other areas that we are having success in or are enjoying are suddenly gone. We no longer have a balanced life of 50/50. Now it's only about the problem in the spotlight. We don't even have context or a frame of reference.
Often we have to squint or look away, because it hurts our eyes. This means that we will not be able to learn from it, because the lesson is buried too deep in the pain. Most often it means that we not only look away, but we turn off the spotlight as well, which leaves us in the dark.
Does the Spotlight of Judgement Ever Serve?
Say you eat a party size bag of Doritos at 8 pm...totally unplanned. When you turn the spotlight of judgement straight on the Doritos extravaganza, suddenly all you can feel is failure and disappointment. Predictably you start to spiral down. It's all you can see, because you are using a spotlight. Then, most likely, you decide to turn off the spotlight, so you don't have to feel the despair anymore. Now you have chosen the dark. Basically, you've given up. In this state, you start looking for other things you can eat and that is how a bag of Doritos turns into a full-blown food rodeo.
What we know about the Dark
Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's no longer there. It's like stepping into an incredibly messy house that we are going to clean. Turning off all the lights doesn't mean the mess goes away, it just means we can't see it.
It doesn’t change what’s there, it only changes how we show up. With all the lights out, we no longer feel responsible for our decisions. We check out and eat up a storm.
We can't change what we can't see. We don't have the ability to learn from what's just happened, because we can't even see it. Our lesson disappears into the abyss of loathing and despair.
Why choose a Beautiful Lamp of Awareness?
It has a dimmer switch. Sometimes we need to dial things down a bit to stay present. This affords us the most generous view of what's going on right now. We don't have to make it "the biggest deal ever" and blow everything out of proportion.
It casts a cozy, warm glow on everything. This is why we love sunsets, candlelight and campfires. Everything is such a pleasant hue. We feel more relaxed and calm. It allows us to be more kindhearted about how we feel about ourselves, our lives and others.
We can view our entire surroundings. When we go more general, we are no longer hyper focused on our problems. Often, we can love our life when we are not spotlighting the areas that are causing us so much pain.
How to Switch your Lighting
Sit down and write for 10 minutes. Don’t judge your thinking, just write. This turns the dimmer on ever so slightly so you can take a glimpse at what is going on. "We write so we know what we think."
Notice in your body what you are feeling. Check in and see what you're feeling and where. Are you feeling a pit in your stomach, a tightness in your chest, does your throat feel choked up? Could you be okay to allow this feeling for a 10 minutes?
What ever you're feeling, consider allowing it. Don't try to push it away or buffer it away. Just allow it with no response.
Choose the Warm Glow of Awareness
When you feel yourself becoming reactive or shutting down or getting foggy, decide instead to be present, but this time with a compassionate view of everything. Be aware of the teachers and lessons that are coming up in your life and look at them in a "new light". This will bring the calm and peace you are searching for.