Today I want to talk about ‘the dark side’. It’s what’s known as ‘the shadow’. It’s all those emotions and thoughts which are considered bad by society and others.
This might be feeling unhappy, fed up, bored, lost, numbed out, shameful, self-loathing, sad, angry or frustrated.
In a society where the goal is happiness – people shy away from these ‘negative’ emotions. They hide them. They avoid them. They don’t talk about them.
But emotions are energy in motion. By blocking out emotions that we consider ‘bad’ we block out parts of our mind that are desperate to be aired.
If you block out the ‘bad’, you also block out the ‘good’ – and this creates a stuckness, depression and inertness.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad or having ‘bad’ thoughts. OK, it’s not desirable. However when you reach into the darkness and feel the void, you shine a light on it.
It doesn’t have power over you. It doesn’t control you. You can make decisions from a place of acceptance and love, rather than fear.
“Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality, and acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life. We meet our dark side, accept it for what it is, and we learn to use its powerful energies in productive ways. The Shadow knows why good people sometimes do “bad” things. Romancing the Shadow and learning to read the messages it encodes in daily life can deepen your consciousness, imagination, and soul.” – Connie Zweig
Our subconscious creates situations and environments that try and get us to pay attention to our shadow side. The harder we resist our shadow, the harder it’ll bite back to get our attention.
If we’re not aware of our shadow, it’s controlling us.
Many of us can’t reach into our dark side because it’s too scary, too terrifying, too real, too deep and all consuming.
To feel it and expose it feels like death.
But in truth, it’s not death at all. It’s a rebirth. It’s the beginning of a new exciting life with new aliveness, vitality, possibilities and a new fire in your eyes.
My failure in the past is that I haven’t been sympathetic to other people’s deepest fears and shadows. I’ve been impatient, intolerant and frustrated with others – because I feel like I’m talking to a fragment of them.
I process things quickly, see patterns quickly, am intelligent and can see what’s under the surface of people. 99.5% of people I’ve met haven’t been able to say the truth because it costs them too much. Because I haven’t really had true peers, I’ve become lonely frustrated and angry.
It’s wrong for me to take out that anger on others. I tried to use that anger and frustration as a driving force for business. That was wrong and didn’t work out very well anyway. Nobody likes working with angry young men.
But that annoyance was real and I needed to explore that.
However now I realise these skills can be tremendously helpful. If I can see through everyone’s persona and insecurities – I might as well use it in a positive, supportive and productive way. I can help process that dark side – giving a space, time to talk, understanding, love and respect regardless of what comes up.
This all leads to healing, self-acceptance, joy and vitality.
It’s also important to realise that many people don’t want to, or can’t process that dark side. The subconscious pain is so deep and so uncomfortable, and so threatening, they will avoid it at all costs. The accumulated layers of emotional spaghetti are so knotted that it’s impossible to unravel.
That’s OK too. There’s no rush. There’s no obligation to look at it. You have to accept that some people are struggling so much that they might never be able to get unstuck. That’s all OK. It’s important to give them love, affection and understanding – and accept them as they are.
If this is making your heart beat fast and making you uncomfortable. That’s a good sign. It shows we’ve touched a nerve of something real. If you’re angry – that’s excellent.
If you look at someone like David Cameron, he is a terrified little boy. He was sent to boarding school at age 7. It’s a cruel and ruthless environment designed to breed cruel and ruthless men. There would have been terrible bullying. The only way to survive that is to become hard, a bully yourself and crush the weak. It’s Lord of the Flies.
So when people criticise David Cameron, call him a scumbag, it doesn’t touch him. It’s near impossible for him to feel empathy, or love, or anything. Because any sign of weakness or vulnerability or kindness is terrifying because it reminds him of terrible times at boarding school where he would be targeted. He’s currently a flake of a man, who needs the prestige and power of being Prime Minister to paper over his internal discomfort. That’s OK.
I still don’t have my stuff together. Hell, I spent half the day in bed today because I felt bad. Mostly as I’m worried about writing this will open cans of worms in other people that I’m then semi-responsible for.
But I’m also trying to do the best I can with what I know. I can see the best in other people . I do care. I want others to get unstuck – so that they don’t die with regrets. This work and these themes are dangerous, scary and exciting, but also very life affirming.
When I get positive feedback from my writing I really feel like I’m making a hugely positive difference – so this is important work, that needs to be done.
(Here’s my earlier pitch about getting unstuck)
Now if you’re curious about exploring and resolving your shadow side. Drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t pretend to. But what I can give is a safe, nourishing, understanding, supportive ear and ask probing questions so that you can be the best, most loving, most alive people you can be.
Naturally everything is treated with absolute discretion and confidentiality.
If that doesn’t feel right then that’s cool. You’ll find you own way.
Because one day all your worries and tension won’t matter. They’ll be distant memories and you’ll be laughing into the sunset.