Social Needs
January 8, 2016
Fear of Being Alone
January 28, 2016

What Being A Lightworker Means To Me

It recently occurred to me that in my life, I have people who share many qualities of mine: being trans, being polyamorous, being vegan, my strongly (even radically?) leftist politics, and so on. Berlin has been a kind of haven for me, a place where for the first time in my life I kind of feel normal in a certain context, something I never expected to feel.

The Berlin leftie scene doesn’t tend to cater to my spiritual urges, another large aspect of me, but even if I’ve had to compartmentalise I’ve found people to share in that with. However, there’s one thing which no-one in my immediate surroundings seems to share with me: being a lightworker.

Perhaps that’s just because it’s a rare thing to be; or perhaps I haven’t drawn other lightworkers to me because until now, that aspect of me has been partly dormant. I don’t know.

Whatever the case, there is that part of me that feels alone. Like I’m taking on this huge undertaking alone. Perhaps as I explore this more, that will change.

You Don’t Just Choose To Be A Lightworker

I recently saw an article named “Why I’m No Longer A Lightworker”. I didn’t really read the article, besides a very brief skim, but the title of the article amused me somehow. Now, I know people have different understandings of words, and the word “lightworker” is particularly difficult in that regard. But from my personal understanding of the word “lightworker”, the title of the article gave a similar impression to if the author had written, “why I’m no longer gay”.

I guess most of my readers will understand that you don’t simply just choose not to be gay one day based on a philosophical shift. Your sexual orientation is a deep, almost essential part of you. Your choices basically come down to whether you heed the calling of who you are, or whether you fight it, ignore it, bury it.

What It Feels Like To Be A Lightworker

It feels the same way with being a lightworker. Almost eerily similar. Being a lightworker for me is a really deep, essential part of who I am. I could ignore it and bury it for a long time, but I couldn’t change it. Heeding it was the only way to be at peace with who I was.

The lightworker calling… how do I describe it? If I close my eyes, I imagine myself being carried along in a river of light. This river is a force, a force for awakening, healing, and love. I’m allowing myself to be part of that flow.

I know plenty of activists and I suppose that I have something in common with them. But I suppose the difference between just being an activist and being an actual lightworker is that I have some kind of consciousness of the spiritual flow which I’m part of. I let myself be guided by intuition, by my creative impulse; I choose to develop myself spiritually, creating inside me that which I want to create in the world. I avoid anger and hatred and excessive conflict, knowing that these energies create repercussions in unseen ways. I understand activism through energy. Ultimately I know that no perfect system thought up in someone’s brain can save us, but the energies of peace and love. This is not airy-fairy; it’s the plain truth. If humans can’t learn to feel compassion for each other, they will continue to hurt each other, no matter how well they are governed. Luckily, I believe compassion can be created, expanded, propagated. And that is the work I am called to be part of.

A Life Calling

The other difference between being a lightworker and just being an activist is, I feel that my entire life is about this. Sure, I can do self-oriented things, and in fact I must, since I’m still human and have needs and desires. But ultimately, on my deathbed I know the only way I won’t be disappointed with my life is if I can say “I did my best to expand compassion on Earth.”

Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I sense the spiritual world as a presence in everyday life, and as such, I know that death is no threat to me. I do not fear giving my life away to a cause. I will always have more lives to live.

Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that when I was younger I knew I could do anything with my life, and it was already clear to me that most “normal” life purposes were hollow and pointless, at least for me. I needed something that really felt meaningful to me, and as I searched within myself, I discovered that the lightworker calling was that thing.

Or perhaps it’s because I sense deeply that another world is possible, that love is possible. I have a deep instinct about the way things are “supposed” to be. And this instinct makes it clear to me that Earth is not a holiday destination. I’m certain that if I wanted to, I could incarnate next time on a planet of peace and love – that is, paradise – and that my soul would fit in there, vibrationally speaking. If I incarnated here of all places, it was for a reason. So in order to make meaning out of the horror of living on this world, I need to honour my reason for being here. To do anything else would be to suffer unnecessarily. If I want to be anything other than a lightworker, there are a million places to do it that would be so much nicer.

So that’s what being a lightworker means to me. Other people will have different conceptions of the term, I’m sure. I can’t tell them they are wrong, though I have to say I prefer this interpretation, which comes from a real emotional or energetic resonance in me, to other frameworks which I find to be very cerebral, very theoretical. Ultimately, any concept is only as good as what you get out of it, of course.


Steve Pavlina’s Darkworker/Lightworker Polarity

Darkworkers And Lightworkers

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  1. Cado says:

    “Your choices basically come down to whether you heed the calling of who you are, or whether you fight it, ignore it, bury it.”

    As someone who walked away from darkworking, I’d put it more in terms of how the calling is framed. It strikes me as very similar to Christianity, actually – I remember hearing similar things said by preachers, that those who walked away were never really saved, that Christ – or their version of Christ – called to everyone and people either chose to live by that calling or ignore it.

    There may indeed be something more fundamental at work, but it’s easy for it to become entrapped and limited by the concepts we place upon it. Someone may feel a strong pull toward humanitarian work, for example. It doesn’t mean they have to do it as part of a Christian organization, or that they need to become missionaries. They can abandon faith, adopt a new spiritual or philosophical framework, and still fulfill their calling.

    And hell, I think there’s a corollary to gender identity. Someone who is attached to the gay label but who feels attraction for the opposite sex at points might resist acting on that attraction if “gay” is such a strong part of their identity that they have a hard time wresting themselves away from it. While on the one hand it would be ridiculous for them to say that – just because they choose to be with someone of the opposite sex – that they are no longer attracted to people of the same sex, it would be equally ridiculous to be so attached to their identity that they won’t allow themselves room to breathe and express these new longings that have surfaced if they find someone they’d like to do that with.

    Labels should only ever be descriptors and perhaps provide some structure; they shouldn’t become traps, and it’s all too easy for them to become cages by which we prevent our real selves from emerging.

    The longer I am without ‘darkworker’ as one of my defining labels, the more critical of the concept of polarity I become. I don’t think lightworking or darkworking are holistic systems that work to the benefit of those involved. I think both poles encourage the development of narcissistic traits. I think that for all the good that could be found on either side there is just as much that can lead to the burying of key issues that real progress comes at a snail’s pace, if it’s not halted altogether. The point where “the paths merge” and “one side begins adopting traits of the other” is the point where lightworking and darkworking stop being lightworking or darkworking and the labels are wholly inconsequential. You need both light and darkness to be a healthy individual and to do good in the world, and the integration needs to start early to maximize the odds of emerging as a healthy and capable person in the end.

    Lightworkers criticize selfishness and darkworkers criticize altruism, but neither of those concepts are actually what’s on blast. What’s on blast is the pathologized versions of both of them, namely toxic codependency and sociopathic narcissism. We are a society that – due largely to ignoring the root of our problems – polarizes in both directions in equal measure and creates just as many problems as solutions.

    For me, I was turned off to lightworking because I was deeply codependent and lacked any sense of self or how to get my own needs met, and the lightworker’s focus on compassion, forgiveness, and letting go took me from feeling like I was drowning to feeling like I was being pulled deeper into the water. I tried that, but I always received a massive internal backlash because I was only making a cognitive decision to forgive and let go. I wasn’t capable of actually doing it and “sending out positive energy” because without angering I couldn’t process what I experienced, nor could I learn to defend myself and set healthy boundaries. Worse still, everything I read about lightworking made me feel ashamed. It made me feel that I was the problem, and that if I wasn’t feeling lighter and more loving that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. It was a direct extension of what I experienced under fundamentalist Christianity.

    Healing comes through boiling rage that ends in tears. Attempts to forgive before that occurs are meaningless as genuine forgiveness is impossible until it can be sincerely felt, and it can’t be sincere until you’ve begun to heal and a healthy ego has begun to emerge. Likewise, intentions to help the world will go unfulfilled or turn into a kind of toxic, mothering affection that will harm as much as help (or inflict such great harm the good doesn’t counterbalance it) because it’s just as much of an avoidance strategy as it is a sincere desire to do good. You try to save yourself by saving the world, and that’s impossible. The world will never be good enough – you will never be good enough – and the inner and outer critics will reign and more and more effort will be sunk into doing things for others’ “own good” (the cry of authoritarians the world over) rather than what is objectively good.

    Darkworking made me feel like I finally got my head above water and was able to breathe fresh air, but I never got out of the water. It didn’t stigmatize my anger, my hurt, my fear, and my hatred, and I needed that. However, I lacked a solid barometer for when I was actually the problem in a given situation, and started developing a narcissistic edge to my newly re-emerged fight response. In the CPTSD model there are four stress responses – Fight, Flight, Fawn, and Freeze. I started out as Fawn-Flight. I transitioned into Fawn-Fight, but neither response became a healthfully integrated version of what they were supposed to be. I never became confident and self-assured because the intense focus on the self neutered my ability to be objective in my relationships with others, and I was never able to adequately address my codependent tendencies within the framework I was utilizing.

    In healthy personalities there’s such fluidity between focus on self and focus on others that it’s unimaginable I ever took the concept of polarity seriously. Where I’m at now I’d have to bend and twist and eradicate common expressions of myself to fit firmly within either camp. Both my selfish desires and my humanitarian urges have increased. I have grown more patient and compassionate, but I’m far better at establishing boundaries, and while there are some things I will never forgive, I’ve processed them to the point that I can let go, or at least I’m aware of the need to keep processing them until I’m able to do so. I am – and will always be – a work in progress.

    There’s no split between these things. There isn’t a contradiction. There’s no basis for saying that once you go far enough one way you start integrating principles and methods from the other side. Rather, there’s no basis for saying that is how you have to do it. There are simply things that are appropriate in certain contexts and not in others; things for which the time is right and things that should wait, and it’s always in flux. Progress is non-linear, and it’s a process of taking two steps forward and one step back consistently enough to gain ground.

    My feeling is that what has the most positive impact on the world is what has the most positive impact on the individual: attaining freedom from old traumas by learning how the psyche works and managing the symptoms well enough to employ the right strategies in the right circumstances. I don’t believe there is any emotion that sends waves through the cosmos entirely by its own power, or rather, that emotions are inherently positive or negative in terms of their manifestations. Hatred, in its proper context, is a means of putting an impenetrable wall between yourself and an abuser. It establishes a boundary you will not allow to be crossed, and it’s the only way to combat sociopaths with power whether it’s political power or simply power over you. It needs to be balanced with an awareness of the other person’s humanity, namely an understanding that their humanity doesn’t necessarily mean they can or should be forgiven for what they’ve done. (Hate the sin, not the sinner, as it were.) If a methodology or framework – in this case, lightworking – doesn’t allow for a sound strategy to emerge – as a logical extension of its principles – that could combat despots, then I doubt its ability to have a positive impact on the world. I don’t doubt that there are people identifying as lightworkers who do have a positive impact, but if they actively adopt the label, my current belief is that it’s largely in spite of it, not because of it. Lightworking promotes self-abdication, the burying of deep personal issues, and compassion in situations where narcissists and sociopaths will exploit it as a weakness. That is where the sane darkworkers were right on the money, and where lightworkers would be wise to acknowledge the value of anger, particularly in personal healing.

    Darkworking, on the other hand, encourages a kind of myopic nihilism that – through so much focus on one’s own pain – fails to encourage the kind of trust-building, relational healing that’s necessary to emerge into a healthy self. Self-love cannot replace the love of others, and purely selfish pursuits become boring very quickly without people close to you to share your victories with and to whom to give part of the spoils. The focus on individuation is wonderful and does more to promote the development of a healthy ego in those who have abdicated their needs than anything lightworkers advocate, but it can still turn into a kind of narcissism, and narcissists who are drawn to darkworking would ultimately benefit more from the lightworking methodology because they’ve been so intensely focused on themselves their whole lives – and even then, turning the focus outward is meaningless if they don’t develop self-awareness and deal with their traumas. (That’s why narcissists are so dangerous – nearly any attempt to help them turns them into bigger monsters than they were before, and it’s why I might seem to be especially critical of attempts to promote compassion and love because narcissists love to put themselves at the head of organizations and movements with outwardly positive ideals. Being in the spotlight within that context is heaven for the narcissist because it gives them infinite source of narcissistic supply, and many people are too damaged to properly identify and combat narcissists before they’ve done irreversible damage to whatever cause they’re representing.)

    More to the point, there’s nothing about healthy individuation that necessitates that it’s part of only one path, and understanding the psychology of how one achieves it reveals to me that there isn’t that much of a difference in how it happens regardless of how one identifies themselves spiritually or philosophically. The basic process is going to look very similar no matter when and how it happens. Likewise, anyone without a strong concern for others isn’t simply on a different path; they’re narcissists or sociopaths. People might go through periods of intense self-focus as a necessary part of self-healing and furthering their growth, but anyone in a remotely healthy frame of mind will have some concern about their loved ones and the world they live in. It’s understandable why people who are especially traumatized might withdraw from society altogether, but even then it’s generally something you’d hope they work through so they can open themselves to all the beauty life has to offer. The difference between them and the narcissists is they usually don’t lose their concern for people or the world in general, they’ve just internalized on a very deep level that the world is dangerous and they have no idea how to relate to it in a healthy way.

    With all of that said, I still don’t particularly care what labels people adopt or what paths they follow. The main point of all of this is that I hope people remain aware of the limitations of their labels and ideologies and seek a holistic approach instead of artificially limiting themselves and preventing real healing from taking place. People who don’t heal themselves are in no place to know real self-love or to do any good in the world at large no matter how noble their intentions might be. Everybody wants to do the right thing, but everybody has different definitions of what that is, and objectivity is impossible when looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of our own pain and the twisted perspectives that come with it.

    • Sophia Gubb says:

      Wow, your comment is longer than my article xD I think what revitalises the “lightworker” concept for me (and I’m not even thinking about *polarity* anymore, I just don’t have any interest in what darkworking might mean) is no longer understanding it in cerebral terms, ideology, or whatever. I feel a calling to act a certain way. I could lose all my memories and thereby have no ideological framework, and I’d still have this calling. “Lightworker” seems a good word for it, but I’m not overly attached to the name or any ideas attached to the name.

  2. Cado says:

    You know me – I’ve always like my in-depth analyses. Hope things are going well for you.

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