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Why Candles Are Symbols of Hope & Self-Acceptance

Why Candles Are Symbols of Hope & Self-Acceptance

By Emma Carey 


People tend to think candles are just...candles. 


Blocks of wax that look pretty and smell nice. They're for middle-class people who light them in a cream carpeted sitting room while reading a magazine. If that's true, why do we associate candles with hope? A light in the dark that leads the way? Why does a place feel relaxing, calm, or romantic when lit with a thousand tea lights?


Candles help you work towards a goal.


Similar to lighthouses, candles are beacons of light guiding you towards action. Let's say you want to invite love into your life. You might choose a candle with colours and scents that remind you of love. Every time you light the candle, you remind yourself that love is your aim. 


However, if you light a candle representing love, then go about your life as usual, do you expect anything to change? No! That's like seeing the lighthouse, ignoring its support, and driving yourself into the rocks. It's self-sabotage. Yet so often, that's precisely what happens. People buy surface level self-love and complain when it isn't working. Although candles can symbolise and provide direction towards your goals, you still have to do the steering yourself. 


You can't just light a candle and expect it to transform your life.


Maybe life is manic, and waves of thought are crashing through your head, such as, 'I want to be calm, but there's too much going on. I'm so stressed!' You can carry on whirling in the storm for days on end, but until you turn those thoughts into action, they manifest into nothing except further anxiety.


When you stay in the storm, you're not listening to yourself. You're not taking actionable steps to create the calm you need. A candle bridges that gap. When looking for a lighthouse, you recognise you need support to reach safety. The same happens when you light a candle. You have to actively choose your candle, then focus for a moment to light the flame. You may not even know why you enjoy lighting candles so much. You're just aware that it brings something positive into your life. Maybe peace, tranquillity, or a recognition that you need those things. 


Let's return to the idea that you want more love in your life. You might start doing small things that open those long-sealed doors and windows when it comes to love. Maybe you practice positive affirmations, 'I love myself, I love myself.' It could be smiling at someone you've taken a fancy to or calling your mamma for a catch-up. The visual reminder creates a mindset shift, and suddenly, lighting a candle becomes something else entirely. You have a light that is guiding you towards your goals. They make the journey easier because candles remind you of your aim and create the bigger picture. 


Candles create change because you're acknowledginging what you need.


Although lighting candles represent life-enhancing things, they can't miraculously transform your state of mind. However, that seemingly small act of lighting a candle acknowledges that you need peace, calm, love, or whatever that candle represents. Instead of flailing around in the water, you turn on the lighthouse. It's no longer dark and chaotic. Instead, you've illuminated the water and seen that you need help. The waves are still bashing you from side to side, but the candle provides a calmer route and creates a positive space. It shows that you care about your environment, and you're taking a moment to care for yourself. When you recognise that it's time to turn on the lighthouse, you acknowledge thoughts and feelings, such as, 'I feel so tense. I'm drowning in my to-do list.' Once you realise that's how you feel, you are already taking a step towards doing something about it.


Candles are symbolic of the actionable steps you take to change. That step might be recognising that it's time to wind down, so you do some meditation, yoga, or read a book. When you light a candle, you're suddenly completing an action that helps you achieve what you desire. When you finish that positive action, you are changing your life, even if it's in a small way. You can't just buy a candle and expect to feel calm, but it is the first step to acknowledging that you need calm in your life, and that's progress.


Now, you may be thinking, 'It's not that deep to me. I just like candles because they make my home look nice.'  However, why do you want it to look nice in the first place? What is the candle brings that you don't already have? Maybe it gives your space a homely feel, which is vital for you to feel cared for and safe. You see, candles are never just candles. 


Candles replace negative symbols and create a positive space.


Candles can also replace negative symbols with positivity. When I was suffering from depression, I wore black all the time. The colour signified that I felt low, hopeless, and wanted to disappear. I had the belief that I was worthless and a failure. I wore black to represent that belief (not consciously, I might add!) If I chose black as a symbol of my depression, what would change if I chose a candle?


So much! Suddenly, I am using the candle to acknowledge that I need light, hope, and positivity because the darkness is closing in. If I can have a moment, just a moment, of doing something that eases my sadness, then I am working towards my goal of overcoming depression. Whatsmore, I'm doing that without rejecting my depression but by giving myself a positive space to recognise I need help. A positive space doesn't mean happiness. It can mean safe, accepting, or compassionate. A lighthouse in the dark tells you, 'I'm here. All you need to do is reach me.' 


Why are candles important to you?


With all the metaphors about candles representing light, hope, positive spaces and goals, you may feel lost at sea again. Just remember, you always light a candle for a reason. You might not know that reason, you might not need to know, but it nearly always symbolises that you're inviting in positivity. You don't have to pick up your closest candle and ask, 'what is the meaning of life?' Don't think about it that deeply. You also don't have to write down a list of goals every time you buy a new candle. Instead, ask yourself why having candles is essential to you. What do they represent in your life? Take a moment and appreciate what it is bringing into your life. Candles are not just blocks of wax. They are a symbol of hope and self-acceptance.