“Embrace your inner Stupid” – The second of the many remarkable quotes I heard at this year’s I CAN DO IT Conference in Toronto was spoken by Debbie Ford, Author and co-creator of “The Shadow Effect”. In her speech, Debbie proceeded to tell the audience an amazing story that must have absolutely shocked many mothers. It certainly was a very new perspective for me. The story was about how her son came home from school very upset because another one of the kids had called him “stupid”. We all know how cruel kids can be. Our knee jerk reaction would be to deny that there is any validity to the comment and stroke our child’s wounded spirit. Stupid is also a word that I have seen many a parent react to like it should be stricken from vocabulary all together. “Don’t use that word! That is a BAD word”. Reject. Deny. Forbid.
I have never felt that strong an aversion to the word Stupid or any other word for that matter. Words are just words. It is the energy or the intent behind the usage of the words that has made me react or, as a mother, monitor how or in what usage words are delivered. I have heard myself say “It is not nice to call someone stupid” because I saw that the intention was to hurt someone’s feelings. But when describing a thing or an activity, I saw no harm in the word. So my guidepost became – Reject the usage when dealing with people, accept the usage when dealing with things – thus attempting to minimize the “taboo” of negative word usage and dis-empower the word Stupid.
What was amazing to me was that Debbie Ford did not try dis-empower negative words -she EMBRACED them. Wow! This was pushing the concept of acceptance well past comfort levels and into the place we fear to go. When her son proceeded to tell her how he had been called “stupid”, she didn’t jump to the place of refusal. Instead she completely accepted the comment without restraint. When her confused son asked her if she thought he was stupid also, she responded by listing off all the stupid things she had done that week and lightened the situation from a place of darkness and negativity to make it light and even jovial. She explained to her son and to all of us in the audience that we all have the capacity to be stupid – just as equally we have the capacity to be brilliant. One cannot exist without the other. Further, it is necessary to embrace that shadow side of ourselves we energetically work at repressing. The very thing we repress, mask, or deny is the quality that will become greater in power and influence in our lives.
“That which we resist – persists!” ~ Carl Jung
“The lady doth protest too much” Shakespeare.
Not only accepting but actually embracing our shadow qualities means we no longer live in a reactionary state. We live in a greater state of flow as we are truly balanced between negative & positive, shadow & light, and greatness & humility. I love this idea. It is so freeing. If we are in a state of embracing all aspects of the self, we no longer need to prove ‘what I am’ or ‘what I am not’. You no longer buy into the worry that you are limited or defined by one person’s opinion – negative or positive. Therefore, the opinions of others become something you no longer fear, reject, or even need to respond to. The next time someone calls you “stupid” or “selfish” or any of those choice 4 letter words, let it wash over you with the acceptance that ‘I am that and I am also the opposite of that’.
Once we bring stupidity out of the shadows and into the light, we can begin to laugh at our folly and our oxymoronic nature. I am brilliantly stupid and stupidly brilliant. Loving our sillier and darker aspects allows us to remain unfazed by the opinions of others. Maybe from their vantage point, they can only recognize that shadow quality in you. That shadow is, in fact, serving you in some capacity. My inner ‘b*tch get’s things done. My inner lazy demands I take time to relax. My inner critic pushes me to improve the circumstances of my life. My inner judge navigates choices with greater discernment. My inner fool flies by the seat of my pants and has filled my life with great adventures. And my inner stupid reminds me not to take life too seriously.