Remember that time you wanted to act rational, but something took over you and you just couldn’t help yourself? That time when you offended your child, lost your temper at work, or broke your diet and went on an eating spree? That’s your ‘dark side’ (also called ‘shadow’) talking.
Your shadow is that deep and dark place inside your own mind. The place of fears, issues, and repressed experiences from your past. The one you refuse to admit even exists. But, until you accept it, it will continue to take over.
So, in this article, we’ll talk about your shadow. And how to not let it get in your way.
1. What Does Your Dark Side Really Mean?
Here is what your dark side (also known as ‘The Shadow Self’) means according to Carl Jung, one of the most prominent psychiatrists and psychoanalysts of all time:
“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.”
In other words, your shadow is that dark part of yourself that you don’t really want to admit exists… but which takes over in really stressful or hard times nevertheless.
2. What Are You Supposed to Do with Your Dark Side?
As counterintuitive as it may seem,
The only way to deal with your own darkness is to accept it. Click To Tweet
By suppressing your thoughts, desires, and fears, you create a shallow self that you present to the world, which is not entirely you. You create a ‘better’ version of yourself that you can’t really keep up with. Because, at the end of the day, you’re human — just like everyone else.
We live in a time when people put 50 filters on their selfies to make themselves look perfect. ‘The persona’ is the face you present to the world, your ideal self, the way you want to be perceived by other people.
If you focus on feeding the ‘perfect’ part of you, you will inevitably fail. This will happen because you can’t develop only the ‘presentable’ part of yourself, you have to accept both sides of the coin. But how exactly are you going to do that?
3. How Can You Accept Your Dark Side?
Knowing yourself is the best way to achieve success, happiness, and peace in your life. By acknowledging the dark parts of yourself, you open the door to your deepest fears and negative experiences in a way that sets them — and you — free from repression. This is a very rocky road and it’s not a good idea to walk it alone, so I strongly advise you to seek professional help.
Accepting your shadow is the only path to self-love. You can’t love the parts of yourself that you find suitable and discard the ones that you wouldn’t want to be associated with. Realize that you need to appreciate and accept every little detail about your personality and appearance.
One of the things I tell my clients is to take a good look at themselves in the mirror. Not judging, not trying to change anything. Just observing the person who’s looking them straight in the eye. This person is the most important and valuable person in the whole world because it is them who creates their whole reality.
Another technique is to make a list of all the things you don’t like about your personality and try to reframe them in a positive way. It’s all about the perspective. Let me give you an example: “I hate myself for getting angry easily and fussing about stupid things” can become “I’m temperamental and sensitive, and sometimes I become easily irritated. I accept and love myself as I am.”
There are a lot of ways to accept your dark side. We are all different from each other and, unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a universal formula to change the way you perceive yourself. Some people spend years in therapy or coaching, while others get results for 1-2 months. It depends on the past wounds, the level of open-mindedness of the client and the persistence to achieve the desired outcome.
4. How to Know When You’ve Made It
One of the best ways to tell if you’re getting there is to take a hard and honest look at the feelings you feel every day. If you experience negative feelings and you’re conscious about what provoked them, it’s safe to say that you are aware of your dark side and don’t try to hide it anymore.
Another sign of it working is that you don’t fall into the old negative patterns that often and even if you do, you know exactly how to get out of them in a shorter period of time then before.
Each and every one of us is different and results may vary. Nevertheless, there is one thing in common: when you accept your dark side, you feel better about yourself, your self-confidence is improved and you change your perspective towards life.
The moment you realize that life is neither good nor bad is the moment you start to take responsibility for your own actions and accept yourself.