In our work, we must not forget to honor the shadows. Life is not always full of light and love, nor is it full of shadows or darkness.
The balance sways in one direction or another over the course of our lifetime.
On any given day, we could be weathering a storm that rages all around us, yet we feel a kindred spirit to it. We feel a solid grounding in our own personal ability to bounce back from anything.
Our needs are met, our social status has a solid foundational sense of belonging, giving us confidence in who we are.
There are some people in our world who want the light, as much as the next person, yet hardship plagues us. We don’t seem to align with all the positives being shared with the world from our esteemed colleagues in our industry.
- We see the shadow side of the industry itself.
- We are different somehow in the life events that shadow our lives, compared to those blessed with abundance, wealth, strong relationships, educational connections and social ties that launch our careers easily into the land of plenty.
- We have never felt the pain of crisis that knocks us back as waves of grief or despair interferes with our joy. One’s resilience can only take so much before we have to hit the reset button.
Today’s work in vulnerability gives the world permission to feel our more painful emotions. All emotions are valid, real and important. To ignore them would be an injustice that is out of touch with reality.
Nature and Nurture play their part in our experiences
There are circumstances outside our control that can change someone’s life for the rest of their lives.
They lived through trauma, abuse or survived violence.
Some people survived a life event, such as domestic violence, or as we have seen of late, entire countries falling to violence, leaving it’s citizens to scramble for life itself, let alone a relatively safe space to live in.
We don’t ask those people to be positive. That would be an insult to their experience. Not to mention an insensitive, out of touch, and rather elitist approach to their darkness.
Instead, we honor their experience, by being respectful. We listen to their hardship.
Sometimes, being in the positive psychology business is to get comfortable with those who have to walk through their external or internal shadow side.
We all have them, but like our level of happiness itself, we have a threshold.
When we honor people with respect and dignity, even when (and perhaps especially when) they can give us nothing in return, then we are showing our true colors.
Not the need for greed or fame or the limelight, but a genuineness of character.
To me, this is the authenticity of a ‘positive psychology’. To show kindness, compassion, and empathy without need to be honored for it is the ideal of our micro-culture.
Shadows happen. Let’s not be critical of those who dare to be authentic in their human experiences across the lifespan.
In Peace and Light,
Author: K. Aren Henry has a masters in community psychology and an advanced graduate certificate in mental health counseling. The Light Life is part of her @happinessnoir series, copyright 2021 © She’s a private practitioner and researcher in the United States. Henry Healing dot com is her calling card. @InkHoneyPub is on Instagram.
Thank you for being a part of my blogging journey here on … The Positive Psychology People. 2015-2021
“We Are The Positive Psychology People”
Find out more about positive psychology courses and training at