3 Principles for when you feel the need to share your darkness. What is your darkness? It is the one thing that you try desperately to hide from the light; that you don’t want to share with others under any circumstance. Yet, it repeatedly triggers and threatens to explode like a shaken coke bottle without warning.
But there are steps you can take to manage your darkness. Now is the time to determine why, how much, and with whom to share your darkness.
Determine why you want to share your darkness before you speak.
Opening a shaken-up coke bottle is risky and potentially messy. So asking why you want to share your darkness is a crucial question. Why do you want to open your virtual shaken-up coke bottle now?
Is your desire driven by an outside trigger or weariness from holding in your emotions?
Was there something that triggered your desire to share your darkness?
Triggers are external events or conditions that can induce intense negative emotions, thoughts, and reactions in an individual.
Driving by a car accident site where a loved one was killed might trigger negative emotions, thoughts, and reactions.
Hearing someone share a traumatic event that you have experienced as well can trigger an emotional response.
What are your triggers? What is it that quickly brings a strong emotional response from you? Understanding your triggers will help you manage your darkness.
Hiding your darkness can be exhausting. Maybe you are longing for relief from the bottled-up pressure you feel.
It would help if you considered whether this pressure is temporary or accumulating destructive energy that will only worsen by delaying it.
Knowing why you want to share your darkness will determine the amount of detail you are willing to share.
Set healthy boundaries before you share your darkness with others.
With a shaken coke bottle, you have two options. You can leave it alone and hope the pressure will go down on its own, or you can decide to open it now.
In dealing with your darkness, sometimes the best option is to walk away. Maybe the timing, the person, or the place is not conducive to a difficult in-depth conversation. It can be hard to share your darkness in a limited amount of time when the other person has obligations or is dealing with their own issues, and you are in a public setting with no assurances of privacy.
Sometimes the option to walk away is not an option, and you need an exit strategy.
Maybe it is the wrong person and the wrong timing.
You might consider saying, “I appreciate your concern, but I do not want to discuss it with you. Thank you for respecting my privacy”.
Maybe it is the right person but the wrong place or time.
Try saying, “I appreciate your concern, but I am not ready to discuss this right now. Thank you for understanding and respecting my decision”.
Sometimes the only option is to address the darkness as you experience it. When this happens, you have two questions to address.
How much do you share? Consider a broad exploratory general statement light on details.
This will allow you to gauge the other person’s ability to handle additional details and monitor your own comfort level. Not every detail of your situation needs to be shared with everyone.
What should you not share? You should never share specific information that might inadvertently identify someone else as a survivor or fellow sufferer without their explicit permission.
Knowing what you are willing to share prepares you for whom you can share your darkness.
Choose who you share your darkness with carefully.
Although you might open a shaken coke bottle with nearly anyone, sharing your darkness is a very different experience. You might choose to share your darkness with a close friend, a group with similar experiences, or a trained professional counselor.
Sharing your darkness with a close friend can be difficult. You will have to invest the time to know how they will respond.
They are often the first to notice and ask about our darkness. They care, and that is good. But if they are not trained in opening a shaken bottle, their effectiveness is limited, and they may cause more harm than good.
Some churches have staff that is equipped to help process your darkness. They may offer a limited number of pastoral visits for free.
They might assign a Stephens Minister to walk alongside you in the process. They might refer you to group therapy or refer you to a psychologist for continued care.
Sharing your darkness with a group who are familiar with your type of struggle can be beneficial. They will let you know that you are not alone. They can help you find the vocabulary to describe what happened and how you feel.
Consider finding a group of people you do not know and will not have to see in the future if you find yourself overwhelmed.
Sharing your darkness with a professional counselor might be your best option if your discomfort persists. Competency, confidentiality, and safety are the benefits of a professional.
If you do not have health insurance, providers will often offer discounts for the uninsured. Some cities will offer a limited number of visits with a counselor, and that might be enough.
Call To Action
Do you feel the need to share your darkness this week? Knowing your reasons for sharing, the amount of detail you are willing to discuss, and who you entrust with that conversation can help you move from the darkness to the light.