-Exposing Your Dark Side Does Not Frighten Me, Hiding It Does –
Growing up in a culture where girls were thought to be perfect, angelic-like and submissive in many ways, this is one of the hardest lessons to remember – yet life has a wonderful way of always bringing us back to basics, when we need it the most, right…
– Just in case we forget it somewhere along the way, as we all know nothing is constant and this is surely one of the most valuable lessons, that often get me through the harder times –
Embracing my dark side, an idea that took me a long time to wrap my head around.
It came to me at a time in my life, I was on a quest for “perfection” and in search of my “ideal”self. There was some major conflict inside myself to bring these two sides to the same table.
Yet it became clear to me that I had to fully embrace my dark side, firstly to just simply be able to identify what I wanted to work on. There is something so powerful in owning your dark side as no one can hold it against you anymore – freedom of judgement, approval..we all know the story.
The more we repress these dark corners of our being, the more we face disorder in our personality. This can manifest as addiction, anxiety, intentionally failed relationships or jobs, or other behaviours that cause destruction to ourselves and others.
To become aware of our shadow is to shed light on our earliest wounds and to give ourselves a chance for healing and transformation. But as long as we choose to close our eyes to this, the wounds will continue to decay while emitting poison into our lives.
Any spiritual work should entail exposure and understanding of our shadow. Solely focusing on finding our light keeps us away from places of shame, guilt, jealousy, greed, competition, lust and aggression. But it is these very emotions that must be worked through first before coming near our lighter sides.
Our roles and personality try their best to help us feel worthy and loveable. For some, it is by being intelligent, seductive, confident and powerful while for others it is being generous, caring, and sweet. In whichever way our personality tries to control life, it remains just another attempt to be loved for something we know we’re not.
As long as this partial picture of ourselves is kept intact, we create separation. The message is “I don’t want to look and feel certain parts inside me and I prefer to judge others for showing and living what I choose to reject”, hence choosing separation, inside and out. It is a painful cage of continuous isolation.
Our shadow should be met in a safe and loving environment. Otherwise, it is too afraid that its face will cause devastation and result in further isolation. When it’s safe we can start looking, seeing, and expressing what has been hidden from our awareness.
The Birth Of The Shadow Self
So what exactly is the “Persona” and “Shadow Self”? Well the Persona, according to Jung, defines what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world. The word “persona” is derived from a Latin word that literally means “mask”, however in this instance the word can be applied metaphorically, representing all of the different social masks that we wear among different groups of people and situations.
On the other hand, the Shadow Self is an archetype that forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions and embarrassing fears. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown.
Repression Of The Shadow Self
Basically, the repression of our negative traits or emotions in society is one of the biggest barriers in any persons journey towards self-love and living authentically. Interestingly, many seekers of spiritual growth think that somehow all of the negative qualities within themselves will eventually be transcended. Yet from my own experience, embracing your inner darkness allows for the creation of a psychological and spiritual balance, an integrated whole – whereas denying it creates chaos and disharmony.
The keyword here is “integrate”, which comes from the Latin word integratus, meaning to ‘make whole’. To integrate an inner quality is to take ownership and responsibility for it, rather than rejecting or denying it. The benefits are many; sanity, healing, and wholeness are all found in integration. On the other hand, the opposite of integration is to ‘disintegrate’ – or to be fragmented and divided into pieces.
A person that ‘breaks down’ or ‘falls apart’ for instance, is someone who has been unable to handle stress and who has ignored too many of their personality traits, especially Shadow Self traits. In reality, a fragmented person can never handle adversity because they have no whole centre, and they’re always handling life from the corners of their personality parts.
Embracing The Shadow Self
Our journey of Self-Exploration is a bit like Dante’s Inferno. Before making our way out of “hell” we must walk through the depths of our inner darkness. Many religions symbolize these experiences well. Two famous examples include the case of Jesus who had to face Satan in the desert, and Buddha’s encounter with Mara (the Buddhist Satan) before his “awakening”.
Embracing or integrating your shadow self, I do not mean to indulge in any desire that arises within you. Indulging your anger for instance, will simply result in more anger. By embracing your inner darkness I mean that it is necessary for you to “accept” it. Accepting your darkness will allow you to take responsibility for yourself, and once you truly acknowledge one of these dark traits instead of avoiding them, suddenly, they will stop having control over you.
The Mirror – Otherwise, we often condemn other people for their shadow traits, we’re in essence condemning our hypocritical selves in the process. To accept and embrace your Shadow Self is to go back and become “whole” again and thus taste a glimpse of what authentic “holiness” feels like. Embrace your shadow. Let the dark coexist with the light because this is what makes us whole. This is what makes us authentic. This is what makes us human and BEAUTIFUL because we are REAL without pretending.
Article by Lara Boshoff
Video -Our Humanity by- Chris Abani, Nigerian Author –
A Few Keys
1.Write down five things you wouldn’t want to be said about you. Next, imagine five things the newspaper could write about you, but it wouldn’t matter to you.
2. Then ask yourself these questions: “Are the first five things true and the second five untrue? Or, have you decided with the help of your family and friends that the first five things are the wrong things to be, therefore you do not want them said about you?”
3. Lastly, write down a judgment you hold for each sentence you wrote. Try to pinpoint the time you first made this judgment and where it came from.
4. Another way to uncover your dark side is by paying attention to the traits that bother you in others. What initially prompted Steven to have his realization about being a wimp was his dislike for another man at Ford’s seminar. “He’s a wimp, and I hate wimps,” he told Ford.
5. I suggests making a list of the traits you dislike or hate in others. Think of a time in your life when you’ve displayed each trait or when someone else thought you did. Explore your judgments about each trait along with your judgments about the people who display this trait.