For the most part, we hate feeling like crap.
We hate it when we do things that make us feel like crap.
Yet often we do those things anyway. We eat that 2nd piece of cake even though it will make us sick. We pick a fight with our significant other. We toy with substances that are known to be addictive. We sabotage our best efforts. We do things and think things that erode our emotional and physical health.
It seems insane, sometimes, doesn’t it?
It seems insane until you realize that extremes are part of being on Earth. We live on a planet of extremes — hot and cold, feast and famine, health and sickness, addiction and recovery, good and evil. Some of us come to tread lightly, while others are here to experience the extremes fully. They are here for the highest highs and/or the lowest lows.
And then there is a group of those “extremers” who aren’t only here to experience but to embrace those extremes and transform — transform themselves and transform others. Some do it in the community, like the recovering alcoholic leading the local 12-step program, or the former anorexic who is now an eating disorder counselor. Others do it in the home, like the perfectionist mother who doesn’t want her kids to put that much pressure on themselves. Or the dad who is breaking the pattern of domestic abuse that was a part of his childhood.
These extremers learn to transform the darkness into light, using that light to lead others out of the darkness. They become advocates and heroes, whether they help one person or 1,000.
We love them when they’ve made it to the light, but when they are in the low — or when we are experiencing the low ourselves — we don’t recognize that period as an essential part of a hero’s journey. We want our heroes to drop from the sky — goodness and truth personified, with kryptonite being their only weakness.
When it comes to real human weakness or playing with the extremes, we judge. We shame. We deny. We feel disgusted. We try to keep the crap in the shadows so it won’t be witnessed, or we sling the crap through gossip, making sure everyone knows that WE’D never do that crap.
But either way, the crap just stays crap. There is no transformation — just separation, secrets, and skeletons in closets. The true heroes’ journey involves embracing extremes and understanding that we’re all in this crap together. Support, not shame. That’s the only way to transform the darkness into light, and the crap into gold.