Getting Comfortable with… The Darkness
I think that I am okay with darkness. I have been in a few places where there was energy around that made the darkness creepy. Overall, though the dark doesn’t bother me too much. When it comes to trying to get to sleep or relaxing in a float tank, the darker the environment the better for me.
What I am not super comfortable with is the darkness that comes with changing circumstances. Between you and me, I am a high S/C on the DISC profile. As a high S/C, I need stability and continuity. As my wife says, “I can be totally spontaneous as long as it is properly planned out.”
I am going through a life change where my time lines, expectations, carefully thought out plans have been ripped up, soaked in aviation fuel, and burned up like a draft card on the Columbia University campus circa 1968.
I hate it…but I must become comfortable with this change.
I think that we all have a certain level of change or ambiguity that we can tolerate. However, it is when we near the fringes of the darkness that can make us nervous, cause sleepless nights and might even trigger some anger. All these emotions and feelings are natural when we are working through the darkness.
Although passing through or around the darkness can lead to some negative emotions, the darkness that I am talking about is itself not the negative darkness of depression, self-destructive behavior, or any other form of negativity.
Nope, this is the darkness of not knowing what’s next.
Why enter the darkness?
At the end of the day, there are two reasons why we enter the darkness.
One way that we enter the darkness is that you forced to enter. It is as if life says, “I know you were going along with plans and dreams but I am now going to give you what is called a life lesson. I AM KICKING YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE! P.S. Have Fun – The Universe”
The second reason that you can enter the darkness is that you have grown uncomfortable with where you are and you need to strike out to new ground. The discomfort may be because you have hit a low point in your life and you know you need to change. However, it could also be that there is a restlessness in your soul that can only be fixed but strapping on a pair of boots venturing down a new path.
Where is my torch?
I really hate this part. There is no torch. You only get to see the tiniest distance in front of you. It doesn’t matter if you entered the darkness on your own or if someone/ something forced you here. In the darkness, often your best thought out plans will fall apart or events will force you to change your direction. The tactical or day-to-day plans you had are rearranged for you. It is like going into the ring to fight Mike Tyson, you have a great plan but once you are punched, the plan goes out the window. From the first contact on, the only thing that matters is your strategic objective.
This darkness only lets you see a move or two ahead, which is why the darkness can be frightening. Not because it will do you any real harm, unlike a punch to the body by Tyson, but the frustration of not seeing all possible moves or options creates tension and anxiety.
At this point, we often start to thrash about like kids playing Blind Man’s Bluff desperately trying to tag someone else to be “IT”. We thrash about emotionally, physically, and sometimes spiritually.
How to become comfortable with the darkness?
I don’t think we ever become completely comfortable with the darkness. That’s the bad news (I thought you might like the bad before the good.)
The good news is that there are some steps that we can take to become more comfortable with the darkness.
- Create an action plan – The plan doesn’t have to be perfect. Circumstances will force you to alter the plan. (Remember, everyone has a plan when they enter the boxing ring with Iron Mike.) However, you need a plan of action because not doing anything reduces the amount of options or the amount of light that you can generate yourself. I can’t remember where I first heard this sentiment but a decent plan today is worth more than a perfect plan next week. Have a plan and adjust as needed.
- Find a coach or mentor – Yes, this is a plug for coaching but it does not make this suggestion untrue. We all need to have a mentor or someone who can see the world and alternatives that we cannot. When we find someone, we trust we must engage them to walk this journey with us. The length of the walk will depend on our needs and our goals.
- Create checkpoints or metrics – Establishing checkpoints or metrics help us know if we are on or off track. Create a plan to go to X number or networking groups each week or send out X number of resumes each day. Whatever the metric is, establish it, track it, and adjust as needed.
- Stay connected – This one is critical. It is easy to become lost or off track in the darkness. I know I mentioned it above but when we become isolated, we can experience emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges. It is vital that we stay connected to our existing network and even try to grow that network. Staying connected IS NOT exchanging a quick text, email, or Facebook post. Staying connected IS going for coffee, doing an activity, having lunch, or even providing service to others.
Coach’s wrap up
The darkness isn’t itself a bad thing. In fact, I think that it is often a great opportunity to grow and develop strength and resourcefulness (kind of like having a coach that gets you to do an extra push up when you thought you had nothing left). The challenge to becoming comfortable with the darkness is that the darkness limits us we can do, think, and touch. We must rely on others (not easy for me) at this time. We also must come to accept that there are circumstances that we may not be able to directly control. (HR managers, clients, and others often have their own time lines that don’t match up with ours.)
Using our network, our action plans and a coach/ mentor are the best short-term tools that we can use when we either are forced into the darkness or decide to take a chance and move to another level in life.
If you are entering the darkness or are smack in the middle of it and could use that outside perspective, reach out to me and let’s talk about where you are and where you want to be on the other side.