Dealing with the Darkness: Honoring the Life of Robin Williams

Robin WilliamsAs I continue to sit with the tragedy of Robin Williams, I am filled with mixed emotions and thoughts in how to best honor his legacy – his light and darkness.

As someone who has struggled with depression at different times in my life, I can get the despair that can swallow you up, grabbing the steering wheel, while you ride shotgun. The darkness is palpable. Even with all the tools I have learned on my journey, I am not immune to the darkness taking hold.

I have learned that if you try to fight or deny or dismiss the darkness, it just squeezes tighter like the toy – Chinese Finger Cuffs.

fingercuffsI have learned to lean into the darkness from a place of curiosity and exploration. I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but this isn’t about giving up or giving in. It’s about dancing with this part of me that is just as real and valid as the lightness within me.

While we experience the pain, there is nothing inherently wrong with darkness. It’s how we relate to the darkness–our thoughts and actions in response–that are most damaging. By removing the judgment from the dark experience, you can create more freedom to dance with the darkness and in turn grow stronger.

By dancing with my darkness, I learned to reclaim my power and reclaim my life. I can take the wheel back and steer toward the light.

You may be asking – How do you dance with the darkness?

Here are a few practices inspired by Robin’s own words:

Dead-poets-societyUse your Voice

“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” Dead Poets Society

So often we stay silent around darkness. It’s barely talked about in close circles, let alone in public circles. That’s how it lives and grows…in the silence, in the shame. By bringing voice to the darkness, it brings it into the light and loses strength and power.

So when the darkness descends, reach out and find someone to talk to about it, someone you trust. It can be a family member or close friend, a therapist or even someone on the end of a hotline. By simply speaking it aloud, the darkness begins to loosen its grip.

good-will-huntingLook for the Good in the Dark

“People call those imperfections, but no, that’s the good stuff.” Good Will Hunting

Life is messy, filled with imperfections and flaws and failures—filled with darkness as much as the light. If we continue to dread the darkness when it shows up…and it always does in this crazy world, then fall victim to the darkness.

If we can see the good stuff, the gift, the wisdom in the darkness, then we can begin to change our perspective on the darkness. We can begin to see what it can give us instead of all that it takes away. I often find that my darkness gives me the gift of reflection as well as connection to others.

patchadamsNever Give Up

“The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.” Patch Adams

I don’t say this lightly because it takes something to Be Happy, something radical. It doesn’t mean you have to feel happy all the time because that just isn’t humanly possible. We all experience the darkness, but it is important to stay vigilant and never give up in that darkness.

We must commit to return to the light, each and every time. The commitment is not to stay in the light because we will have those descents into darkness, but simply do the work necessary to return to the light without judgment, without shame.

If you are dealing with some darkness, know that you are not alone. Reach out to those who love you. If you are not able to see the light right now, let your loved ones hold the light for you until you can see it yourself. The light will come.

 

Robin Williams – You may have lost the battle with darkness, but you will be remembered for the brilliant light that you brought to the world.

 

Lessons from The World Cup

DempseyScoreI am a BIG World Cup fan! I come from a soccer family – my sister and I both played competitively and dad was a referee. Having come from a soccer family, I am excited to see the World Cup fever take hold here in the States! Having watched USA advance to the knockout round yesterday, I am struck by how much we can learn from the team and apply to our own lives.

Play with Heart - Team USA was placed in the toughest group for the initial round, nicknamed the “Group of Death.” It didn’t matter that they had lost to Ghana in the last two World Cups or that Portugal had Ronaldo, one of the best players in the World. Yet that didn’t stop them or dishearten them…it fueled them to push harder and prove they have the heart and the skills to succeed. They simply BELIEVED.

When you have a tough road to success in front of you, what do you do? Do you let it stop you or slow you down? Or do you push that much harder letting your heart and passion lead you? Do you BELIEVE?

Seize the Opportunity – Find the opportunity and seize it, no matter what! In Game 1, John Brooks scored the winning goal against Ghana. There was little expectation that Brooks would score – He was young and essentially a World Cup rookie. Yet he saw the opportunity come toward him, so stepped forward and scored! After the goal, he could barely believe what he just accomplished, which makes it even more remarkable. His age, his experience, his status on the team didn’t matter. What mattered was the opportunity in front of him.

How often do you step up and seize those opportunities even if you may not be “qualified”? Or do you hold back because you aren’t “ready” or others are better suited?

Success isn’t pretty – Success isn’t about winning every game. Yesterday’s game was a loss, but because we had played so well in the other games, we still made it to the next round. These last two games weren’t necessarily pretty to watch with ending in a tie in the literal last minute against Portugal and playing mostly defense against Germany. Most of the time, success is messy with close calls and losses in the mix. It doesn’t mean that we can’t call it success though.

Do you have a definition of success that narrows your view or creates opportunity to keep moving forward? How can you redefine success so that you can stand in a place of power even in the face of a loss?

I am continually inspired by Team USA as they struggle and strive their way to the next round. It had renewed my passion and desired to make a difference in the world. My success isn’t going to be all victories, but it’s about believing in myself and my work, seizing the opportunities and never giving up.

Team USA plays their next game is Tuesday at 4pm ET against Belgium – I hope you will join me in the World Cup Fever and be inspired to BELIEVE!