What’s Blocking Your Light?

by Belinda Munoz on March 15, 2010


Last week, I had lunch with a friend whose teenage daughter passed away unexpectedly in her sleep.  I attended the funeral, an occasion that, as a mother, affected me in a profound way.  It took me several months to send a note to express my condolences.  For a long time, I had no words to convey my deep sympathy.

My friend and I had a soulful exchange about life and death.  I talked about my insecurities as a mother.  She talked about how she’s dealing with the loss of her child.  We told each other about the things from which we derive encouragement and inspiration, without which we would likely spiral into depression.  We shared a meal and so much more that went beyond the superficial level.

As I was leaving the restaurant, I thought to myself how easy it would’ve been for her to operate out of anger; to let herself slowly die from inside.  But instead, she chose to live.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and sadness, she chose love.

Instead of blaming the school where her child was the night it happened, she is organizing a fundraiser on her child’s birthday and then donating the proceeds to said school.

Instead of hurling invectives at the universe, she started a non-profit organization whose mission is to help other teens cope with their existential challenges at this tender age.

Instead of being a victim, she unknowingly acts the hero by showing me and others around her that, having endured a terrible nightmare, there is still so much love to share, so much impact to be made, so much to live for.

I was moved by her inner strength and her resolve to continue to spread love despite what she’s going through.  I doubt if she knows how much she inspired me that day.  I have no idea if I would be able to choose positivity were I in her shoes.  I don’t know if I would find the fearlessness that she’s found; if I would be able to embrace life again the way she has.


My time with her was unusually robust with meaning and it made me wonder: Why do we hesitate to connect on a soulful level? Why do we hide our deepest, most authentic selves from others? Why do we make others dig so hard to unearth something real about us?

I have one guess: fear.

  • Fear of getting hurt.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Fear of being misunderstood.
  • Fear of being laughed at or ridiculed.
  • Fear of looking like an emotional mess.
  • Fear of being judged.
  • Fear of being labeled.
  • Fear of being valued less than our worth.
  • Fear of the worst case scenario.

I suspect that we each want to show our authentic self to others.  We each are capable of and may even crave relating past the superficial level.  But we rarely do.  Our fears get in the way because, let’s face it, it can be pretty damn bruising being alive today.

But the thing is, fear only appears to protect us from harm.  It never actually does that.

Thinking of these fears saddens me as I recall the people who have come and gone from my life without me really knowing them.  I think about missing out on seeing their true light for no good reason other than a misguided illusion.


At best, it’s a wobbly crutch that fails to hold us up and only makes us hobble.

When I think about all the variables that need to align in order to cross paths with a person, I’m struck by the luck factor that plays into it.  Out of billions of people, we meet the few hundreds, maybe thousands, that we do meet.  How enriching it would be to share something of substance with each person we meet.  But no.  We opt for the safest possible encounter.  Easy, breezy, chit chat league.  If we’re interested to know more about someone, we hesitate to pierce, poke, prod.  If only we didn’t have so many layers to peel away.


At worst, it’s a top-grade cloaking mechanism that lets us hide so well to the point that we have trouble finding ourselves.


And so, I close with one wild wish:  I wish that the world would see a little more authenticity from each of us.

  • We all feel hurt.  Is there any real need to pretend we don’t?
  • We all struggle.  Is there any real need to pretend we don’t?
  • We’re all insecure from time to time.  Is there any real need to pretend we don’t?
  • We all have fears.  Is there any real need to pretend we don’t?
  • We all pretend.  Is there any real need to pretend we don’t?

We all need acceptance, understanding and love.  And we all deserve to fulfill these needs.  How we convey these needs is awkward at best, if at all.

If you’re reading this, I hope you know how much power you have to be the light and warmth for others.  We could all use the encouragement, perhaps more than we’d like to admit, because the world can sometimes be a dark, cold place.  By caring more about letting your authentic self through, and caring less about this wobbly crutch/cloaking mechanism, you will add much needed light and warmth to your world.  This world.  Our world.

Is there any real need to hide? Do we hide because we seek? Or do we seek because we hide?  Is hide and seek a game best played by children?



Last week, I read two very powerful posts about choosing to take control of life.  One was written by Steven Aitchison from Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life called The Night I Gave Up on Life.

The other was a guest post over at Josh Hanagarne’s awesome World’s Strongest Librarian blog written by Hulbert Lee who blogs at From Bottom Up.  This piece is a powerful description of daily triumph over OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder.  Click here to read.


Image by Matt Seppings

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tony Single March 15, 2010 at 5:16 am

Belinda, there’s so much here to digest. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t address it all in the manner that it deserves, so here’s the part that I’ll focus on:

“We all pretend. Is there any real need to pretend we don’t?”


I wonder if pretending is something we all do because it’s easier than leaving oneself open and vulnerable. It seems that the majority of people are looking for confidence and certainty in others to cover over their own lack. We all want a little reassurance, right? That’s understandable.

Here’s the thing: I have never found certainty or peace of mind in anyone else or the things they do and say. No one, not even God himself, can make the fact that this world can be arbitrarily cruel an acceptable thing to me. Nothing will make me more confident about getting through life in one piece… and I certainly won’t get out of it alive.

Now, if this seems a tad morbid, then it’s merely because I refuse to pretend that everything’s okay when it’s not. People are suffering in myriad ways all around the globe as I type this. My wife still has to get up in the morning and go to a job that she absolutely dreads. My friends still have to go through bitter divorces. People who could just as easily be friends with someone else choose the harder road of being enemies instead. And I sit here asking God to chase away that black dog of depression that never seems to leave me alone.

So, yeah, there is suffering. No question. But there is also the will to live. The need to not be alone. The temerity to smile in the face of adversity. I would like to be open about all the the other stuff so that we can get to this good stuff… the stuff that still helps us to entertain the ludicrous yet tantalising possibility that somehow, some way, we will all endure. Actually, we fantasise that we will do more than merely endure. We dream of soaring. Dreams are necessary.

But I can’t help but wonder if this is achievable for as long as we refuse to leave ourselves open to others. It’s a scary thing to let them see that we are actually weak and not as super as we often portray ourselves to be.

There is that Bible verse that says something about “in our weakness we are made strong”. I love the sentiment. I love it so much that I refuse to present myself to others as anything but weak. Sure, “weak” is not a word many favour, but I do. There’s no pretense about weakness. It is what it is. It is completely open and vulnerable to anything happening to it. It is ready. It is not passive.

Open is good. Pretending is fine also, but only in fiction.


2 BK March 15, 2010 at 6:49 am

This is something which I have been thinking after watching The Dark Knight. One of the characters, two-face in the movie left me a deep impression. Do we have many faces; one face that face others and one face to look at us in the mirror. Why do some of us put up a different face when we are facing people? I believe you have it right – fear. Fear that others may not accept who we really are and that they may not accept what we are doing. What I am hoping to do is to put up the same face in front of others and when I am alone facing the mirror.

Your friend is truly an inspiration, of someone who move beyond her own suffering to light up the world of others.


3 Tracy Todd March 15, 2010 at 6:50 am

I recently learned that my most attractive feature if my light. I realize that it was my own insecurities and lack of confidence keeping it from shining.

Thanks for reminding me not to allow those fears to ever creep in again.

Thanks for a lovely post!


4 patty March 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

As always, your post has caused me to think deeply and has touched my heart. (I’m so impressed by your writing.)

I’m more of a “put it all out there” sort. I have friends who tell me I shouldn’t be so honest. They say that showing my vulnerability is dangerous and that I’ll lose jobs because of is (I’m a musician). I guess I’ve gone to an extreme that is troublesome. My mantra has always been “Life is hard. God is good. These two things I know.” I guess I want to show that while I find things so very difficult sometimes (I’m dealing with a hearing loss combine with tinnitus, and for a musician that’s just a wee bit troubling) I still trust that God is good and, therefore, some good will come out of my issue. I might not see the good, but I trust that somewhere, somehow, there will be good from it. It’s not all about me. (Although if you heard me whine you’d think it was!)

Of course hearing loss comes nowhere NEAR the loss of a child. I haven’t a clue how I would handle that. I don’t want to know.

Thank you for your blog. It is good for both my heart and my head.


5 Eva March 15, 2010 at 11:03 am

Yes, fear. Absolutely fear. Fear of revealing more than my counterpart does. Fear of not being liked, even if the liking is based on a superficial persona. Fear of disagreement and conflict.

I need to work on this. I suppose we all do. It’s not easy to reprogram yourself after years of creating a careful veneer. But it is important to live authentically. Thank you for this reminder, Belinda.


6 Nicki March 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I had a discussion – all too brief – with a dear friend last week about fear – fear of success and fear of change. Both of us acknowledge that success and change usually go hand in hand but why fear success? Why? Because it generally causes change and that is really fearful.

Fear is the key. If we accepted one another as the damaged people we are – damaged as in hurt, pretending, not authentic – fear would not be as controlling as it is.


7 Keith Davis March 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Hi Belinda
Similar thing happened to a friend of mine who lost his daughter, but he carried on.
Big problem is knowing what to say and being scared of saying the wrong thing.
So most of the time we don’t say anything.

What does come out of such experiences is that people do have the strength to carry on.
As you say… an inspiration to us all.


8 Greg Blencoe March 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm


Thanks for sharing your friend’s story. She is indeed a very extraordinary person to face that situation with so much love.

And I would definitely recommend reading Steven’s powerful post (I haven’t had a chance to read Hulbert’s yet).

I think the way to deal with the fear is to just try to have the courage to not care so much about what other people think. It really does not matter. But the fear of rejection from other people holds most of us back in so many ways.

Furthermore, when you take the lead by doing this, I think most other people will respond by putting their fears to the side. And then you can both share an authentic, deep connection.


9 Patty - Why Not Start Now? March 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm

It’s a beautiful story, Belinda, about how you and your friend were able to come together and share from such a deep and heartfelt place in the face of her loss. And I do think fear has something to do with hiding, but I also think there’s more. We’re not taught to value the kind of interaction you had, nor do we learn how to make it happen. There’s an art to both listening and speaking without pretense. Plus we’ve minimized the importance of those portals that took us to that place of universal connection in days past: myth, stories, poetry, art, nature. I suppose blogging is a little like sitting around the fire telling our stories, but it’s not the same. For all that, though, I’m convinced many people yearn for the kind of relationships where they can speak from their hearts. A client recently asked me, “Where can I find other people to talk to the way I can talk to you?” I didn’t know what to tell her, but I knew exactly what she meant. I’ve heard that refrain a lot over the years, and felt that longing myself more times then I can count.


10 Hulbert March 15, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Oh my goodness Belinda… this is the first blog entry that I’m reading from someone else today and I already feel somewhat sad… whoa… not your fault of course, this is just what happens in life; it’s very unexpected.

I’m sorry about what happened to your friend’s daughter. Are you sure there was absolutely no reason for why she passed away in her sleep? This gives me the chills… It just shouldn’t happen to someone so young.

I thought your post was very deep, profound, and inspiring; the way your friend is able to move on despite her struggles with this is just beyond words. She is a primary example of fearlessness and sends a message to all of us that despite our fears, we need to still find the strength for accepting these fears, overcome them, and be able to move on in life. It is part of a journey that we must all endure one step at a time.

I think this keeps us humble, letting us be more open to understand others. We never know what of trauma they may be going and that’s why we should always be respectful and share our kindness with others. This gives us the chance to turn the world into a lighter and more peaceful place to live. Thank you for this moving post Belinda.


11 BigLittleWolf March 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm

The woman you wrote about is living every parent’s nightmare. I don’t know how she is doing it.

And I think you are right about fear being the reason so few people are authentic, as you say. But it is more than that. It is also social convention, and there are reasons for social convention. We are all onions to be peeled, layer by layer, and those protective skins are there for a reason. Not only to hid hurt and to protect ourselves against more of it, but in taking time, we build trust, we learn to savor the process of getting to know another.

I believe in revealing our authentic selves, but that still allows us to be moody and playful, changing and changeable, and many different selves in different ways at different times.

A touching post, in many ways. And much to think about, as always.


12 Joy March 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Thankful for your words and truth telling!


13 Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities March 15, 2010 at 7:49 pm

This is why I blog. This is why I read blogs. This is what I crave. An examination of experience, of exchanges, genuine and less so, a wondering aloud, an unapologetic poking of maddening assumptions, a shaking of superficiality, a nod to the reality that houses us all. Us all.

I love how you begin with a story of a conversation, a rich and real one, and spiral out from there – to humble questions and wise observations about the way we tick. And the way we fail ourselves by succumbing and surrendering to the ubiquity of fears, inside and out.

I just skimmed by blogroll and realized that for some bizarre reason, you are not on my blogroll. Fixing that now. Your blog is among my favorite daily gems.


14 Rudri March 15, 2010 at 11:39 pm

It is hard to confront our authentic self because we are so busy placing cat and mouse with ourselves. The authentic self is truth and that is something that is too hard to confront for so many people. And the reality is I don’t know how many people even think about what is at their own personal core. Thanks for the insightful post.


15 Belinda Munoz March 16, 2010 at 1:39 am

@Tony, I love your openness in discussing these relevant points you bring up. Pretending is easy, or shall we say the easy way out, but at what cost. And to your point, I agree that we have to nurture a healthy amount of openness and vulnerability in order to withstand the unpleasantness (suffering, seeming torture, etc.) so we can get to the good stuff. I love that you favor the word weak. I’ve never looked at it that way from my limited angle and traditional definition of the word, but hearing your take on it and and seeing it in the context of that quote makes me re-consider. And to your salient point regarding the will to live, to me it’s pretty sacred. In numerous instances where we’re faced with confounding adversity, still, we rise. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the conversation.

@BK, great point. At what point, if ever, do the face we see in the mirror and the face that greets others, become one. When we’re very young, they’re one and the same. But at some point, these personas diverge in the name of maturity, toughening up, societal mores, yada yada. Clearly, the journey doesn’t end there because we come upon the same kind of emptiness again and again as we follow this safe and accepted path, a path that makes us search for something more. Thank you.

@Tracy, it sounds simplistic but I suspect to be true that once we begin to examine, we’ll find that what keeps our light from shining is none other than ourselves. Thanks.

@Patty, thank you! I’m sorry about your hearing loss. Any suffering is suffering to the sufferer. I used to compare degrees of suffering, thinking one deserved more sympathy than the other. But when I needed sympathy, whadaya know? I learned that measuring degrees of sympathy-worthy suffering is no way to be sympathetic. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to comment.

@Eva, you’re absolutely right. We all need to work on this. Yet another proof that we’re all in this together. And yes, that careful veneer is pretty hard to knock down. Funny how that works. Thanks.

@Nicki, I love how you put that: “If we accepted one another as the damaged people we are – damaged as in hurt, pretending, not authentic – fear would not be as controlling as it is.” Somehow I think it’s beautiful that we’re all these walking damaged creatures, broken in different yet somehow similar parts. As for success, change and fear, ahh, a very intriguing cycle (that really can come together in any order, no?) worth exploring. Thank you.

@Keith, you’re right. As many words as there are, sometimes, none fits. And this ties in to why we need to become more adept at connecting not just on a verbal level but also on a relational level. Thanks.

@Greg, welcome to The Halfway Point! Thank you for your comment. You know, you’re right. The fears really don’t matter and shouldn’t hold us back. And yes, there’s something to be said for mirroring someone when we communicate. When we can create an environment that leads others toward depth instead of treading the usual inch-deep surfaces, then I’d call that a few steps forward.

@Patty, great point: “We’re not taught to value the kind of interaction you had, nor do we learn how to make it happen.” I love that you bring up myth, stories, poetry, art, nature as I still think they’re timeless, though one might think they’re being replaced by reality shows. And I do think blogging is a bit like that where we open ourselves up as bloggers and see what reactions we get or don’t get. As for the art of listening and speaking without pretense, I’d say this is worth cultivating. Thank you.

@Hulbert, I love that even though this post made you sad, you were able to ultimately find inspiration in it. And while I’m addressing you, allow me to say again how inspired I am by your story. Folks like you who can not only convey in an uncomplicated, understandable way a condition that is largely foreign to most, but also get beyond it on a daily basis, make me hopeful. Thank you.

@BigLittleWolf, ah yes, building trust! That is a great reason to make peeling the layers worthwhile. I’m totally with you on honoring and respecting our multi-dimensionality. The quirks that add texture to make us us; the fun and lite side, the sulking and morose side, the feeling and thinking side, the glam diva side — I don’t see myself giving them up anytime soon. Thank you.

@Joy, welcome to The Halfway Point! You’re welcome, and thank you for visiting.

@Aidan, to the first paragraph of your very eloquent comment I say, me, too! I left a comment on someone’s blog recently and said that blogging and reading blogs has become a way to nourish my mind and heart. Hitting that “publish” button has become not only an act of faith but also an exercise in letting go for me. But reading blogs where I connect beyond the pixelated words, pretty awesome. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. Yours is one of my favorites, too.

@Rudri, I share your doubts and remain hopeful that our common thread is strong enough to bring us at least glimmers of truth, as difficult as it is to take at times.


16 Phil - Less Ordinary Living March 16, 2010 at 11:48 am

Belinda –

Thank you for a beautifully written meditation on light, love and authenticity. You friend’s experience was so powerful and her response shows that even in the darkest hour, every person can find their inner light. I marvel at how resilient we are when it really matters – and how love and compassion shine through. Your wish that we could be more authentic and open every day with everyone we meet is not an impossible one. It takes practice to open up, to go against orthodoxy and share in public. I try to do this as much as possible and have found nothing but the most amazing response when I’ve tried.

As for fear – well that is a whole nest of vipers in itself! I love Marianne Williamson – “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate – it is that we are more powerful than we can possibly imagine”. This is the bedrock for transcending and unleashing the amazing light that shines inside. Thanks again,



17 Lauren March 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Hi Belinda,

Thanks for another thought-provoking post. I also have a close friend whose young daughter died not long ago. My friend’s response has been amazing. Naturally she has been devastated, but her strength and choice to love rather than become embittered has been remarkable to behold.

I always knew she was amazing, but this really showed her resilient spirit in the most profound way. She is my hero. She chooses to live too. As she says, she will not allow her life to be ruled by this. My friend has chosen to help others. Through the pain we shared moments of laughter and song.

I agree we have “masks” to protect us, yet I take such pleasure in interacting so deeply and profoundly with those I CHOOSE to completely let in. I have the good fortune of having several friends where I feel we let our hair down and relax into being our most authentic selves.

Sometimes it is because I choose to not let someone that close. It takes a level of trust. I admit I don’t want to trust everyone.

Still, your questions at the end of the post are powerful. I know there are times I have remained hidden out of fear, insecurity, or not wanting to be judged. That’s why I like to put myself in situations out of my comfort zone at times. I love to do things that I don’t know how to do (with others who are great at it) or attend events where I know no one. It is ever so good practice.

I remember many years ago I was going to attend a Halloween party and I thought I wonder what it would be like to go as myself. By that I mean to go and have no mask at all, to be transparent. My sense was that this would be a great challenge, but one worth practicing.

Love your posts, Belinda!


18 Zengirl @happy heart and mind March 16, 2010 at 8:24 pm


It is touching story, I have been there. I wrote about fear while ago on my blog too, as fear holds us back from living our best. Insightful!


19 Liberty March 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Your friend must have that inner strength being able to surpass the grief and choose to live in a positive manner.

My most heart breaking experience was when my dad passed away. Looking back I don’t how I survived it. I only know that there was a supernatural being (God) that was there for me. He must have given me the inner strength. Who else?


20 Malo March 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Beautiful post!

A few days ago, someone reminded me that all people are fragile. Sometimes we forget this, especially when we see someone so confident, bold, loud, or aggressive. Like you said, we all feel hurt, and struggle, and insecure, and fear, and pretend… we all need to be loved.

Love begets love. Your courageous friend is wise enough to know how to cope where most people can’t. She’s spreading love, and getting love in return. God bless her for being a source of inspiration to most of us.


21 Belinda Munoz March 16, 2010 at 10:57 pm

@Phil, thank you — I love the word meditation — and you’re welcome. Our resilience is marvel-worthy when we hop to it. I love that you think my wish is not impossible; the trick is to try it once and seeing what amazing response we attract will fuel us to repeat the practice. Yeah, fear — gosh, it deserves volumes and volumes of books and my little post doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. And I’m always moved every time I read that Marianne Williamson quote. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

@Lauren, thank you for sharing your friend’s story. Remarkable. You said the all-time key word for me: CHOOSE. It’s such a robust word and I prefer it over ACT or ACTION because we’re always choosing. Even when we think we’re not choosing, we are. Good point about not wanting to trust everyone. Ideally, I’d like to believe I’d want to, but where I am right now, I don’t see it working that way. I love your point about putting yourself outside of your comfort zones. I admit, I don’t do it as often as it would benefit me. Very interesting idea about the Halloween party; would be an excellent conversation starter. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

@Zengirl, hey there! Thank you for chiming in. I’d be interested to read your post. Take care.

@Liberty, the will to live is awe-inspiring. Thanks for joining the discussion.

@Malo, I think it’s a paradox. We’re all fragile in that we all bruise and break and get damaged, and yet we’re all strong in that it takes a lot to knock us down and keep us down for good.


22 Zengirl @happy heart and mind March 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm


Great, I wrote it a little while ago, if in case if you did not find it, here it is 5 ways to overcome fear . I like the topics you choose, something new and different perspective to learn. Thanks.


23 vered March 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I often wonder how I am going to cope if disaster strikes. I don’t have the answer, but this post was inspiring and gave me a lot to think about.


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