14 Ways to Bring the Light to Someone Who is in the Dark
Witnessing someone we love in pain is tough. Sometimes it can feel paralyzing and we can feel helpless. Why do we recoil away from pain?
Life will be tumultuous at times. We will lose people. We will witness people we care about get sick. There are atrocities that are occurring all around the world that we can hardly even imagine from the comfort of being behind our screens. We in our lives experience atrocities that we wish we could witness from behind a screen. The pain of the world is real and can feel menacing. There is no sugar coating it, and still, we must continue on. Somehow we must acknowledge that a shadow is only cast when there is also a tremendous source of light.
You are a tremendous source of light. Sometimes you won’t feel like it as the shadow wraps around you. But I repeat…
You are a tremendous source of life and your life matters.
One second a time we can navigate our way through the darkness, but often not alone. We need one another in remembering our tremendous light and in sharing our tremendous light. #ItStartsWithMe and it starts NOW.
How do we start? How do we bring the light to someone who is in the dark?
Here are 14 ways:
Actively listen and create time to sit with someone. Don’t check your phone, don’t rush away. Carve out time to be with someone and let them share. Prompts such as “tell me more”, or “that must be really challenging”, or “of course you feel that way”, can help people feel safe, cared about, and validated for their experience.
2. Give hugs.
We can recoil away when we are in the dark. Feeling isolated and like a burden. When someone pulls you in close (with consent: “Can I give you a hugh?”), it can remind us that we are not alone and that someone cares about us, and that our darkness is not something to be feared, but something to be nurtured.
3. Give them a handwritten note or card.
In the digital age we have lost the art of small notes left on a napkins, scribbled words of appreciation on receipts of hand written thank you letters. There is something about the tactile experience of writing that communicates a unique type of care. Having notes of encouragement in your space, on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, in your car can also interrupt negative patterning and remind you the YOU ARE LOVED.
4. Have a chuckle.
Blessed be the memes that send us rolling on the ground laughing! Next time you find something that makes you laugh, send it off to a couple of friends. Tell a joke, have fun, play. Life can feel heavy sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice our joy.
5. Make them dinner.
There is nothing like a home cooked enjoyed in company. No words even need to be said. Sitting in another person’s presence, saying a word of gratitude for sitting next to them and enjoying nutritious food can be healing salve.
6. Go for a walk together.
As the weather becomes warmer, getting outside can be a revolutionary act for our well being. Moving your body helps not only your muscles and joints, but can also help move any stagnant emotions which can help us clear our mind.
7. Have a movie night.
Stay in and watch your favourite flick. Alleviate yourself from the pressure to go out. Let yourself stay in guilt free, make some popcorn, and invite a friend. Pro tip: watch an inspiring movie or show to help remind you that life can suck sometimes, but you can and will rise from it stronger and smarter than ever before.
8. Get your hands dirty in the garden.
Seriously. Put your hands in the dirt. Grow a garden. Enjoy the collaboration that we get to have with this amazing planet. Say thank you for providing us with the grounds to grow food and the support to stand tall.
9. Walk barefoot.
Take off your shoes, even your socks, and take a couple steps. Some of the best spots are on the grass, in the sand, wading in water. If you are really lucky and you can stand in the mud and remember what it was like as a kid, thumbs up.
10. Don’t sympathize, empathize.
11. Shed some tears.
Yup. As much as we are told to “suck it up” (especially men and boys), it is OKAY to let yourself shed tears. Really truly it releases stress from your body so that emotions don’t get lodged in your brain and calcify…. Okay not really but it definitely can help. Crying not your thing? Remember when someone told you to go scream in your pillow? You’re allowed to do that as an adult too. Just because we “grow up”, doesn’t mean that we lose our need to experience a wide range of emotions. If anything that range gets even wider and we need to learn to become better at navigating their complexity and intensity.
12. Help set goals.
Start small. “What is one thing that you want to accomplish today?” Maybe it is as simple as making your bed, calling your daughter/son/parent etc., responding to that email or spending 10 minutes outside. Collect small wins to help develop your confidence so that you can start to set goals that require consistency and grit, like run a half marathon, cutting out sugar from your diet, or finishing that book you’ve been meaning to for months. Start small and build. Collect micro wins through your day.
13. Just be there.
Yup just that. You do not need to say anything. Just be there. Maybe you fold laundry together. Maybe you lay outside. Maybe you build someone a cocoon of blankets and pillows and simply say “you are allowed to feel this way”, or “you are safe here”.
14. Make a gratitude list.
Or set gratitude reminders on your phone to go off throughout the day! Celebrate the little things. Look for moments to be grateful for. Not feeling particularly grateful? Make a wish instead. “I wish I could feel more grateful right now”
Start small. One second at a time. You got this.