Welcome to the darkness
What is the darkest thought that even came to your mind?
Did you just think that, really?
Essentially, it happens because of shadow — blind side of your psyche.
Every time you consider doing something unethical or act malevolent it reveals itself. Shadow is driven by personal experience or group identity; hence, the environment you are in will influence your reaction and emotions. It also reminds us that every human being has a capacity for aggression — a historical survival mechanism superseded by culture to promote morale.
Every time you over-control, suppress, and avoid expressing your feelings, you add to the artificial persona you are cultivating for social benefits and feed the inner demon who may one day pay you a visit. Here are some breaking news for you when you pose as someone else and persuade people of your unwavering moral motivation:
The good news is that you did not cause any trouble to anyone, and a lot of people would let you in their life or even want to become friends
The bad news is that the fake personality you create is harmless and phony, which will harm you in the long run, somewhere in late realization of wasting your life pleasing other
Three years ago, I agreed with myself to tell the truth, no matter how much harm it was going to cause. Very quickly, I learned that people don’t like the truth; it is a discomforting feeling, and I had to change the strategy. I would tell the truth only if they asked for my opinion; otherwise, I would do my best not to lie or not express any opinion at all, unless absolutely necessary.
I noticed that as I stopped burying my negative emotions, they surfaced more frequently. I felt freedom for the first time in many years. I was sad when I wanted to be sad, I was angry when it felt like that, and I was aggressive when it was necessary, mainly playing competitive sports, and it released my soul. I slept like never before, and I gained trust in the concept of being true to your feelings.
I also learned that even if you are telling the truth, there is no guarantee that people are going to believe it. Sometimes I had to defend my truth and really stand for it, but I knew it worth it. It also became easy to accept the fact that I could be wrong.
My facial and body expression changed a lot as I stopped holding emotions and making “poker face,” so people would know immediately if something wasn’t right, the conversation wouldn’t be delayed, and you could resolve a potential conflict on the spot.
I’m still figuring out how to deal with it better, as shadow integration is a life-long process, but it’s significantly improved my maturity and emotional state. Of course, it is not ideal and slips here and there, depends on how much you care, which is also an important indication for decision-making.
The concept of shadow is extremely important for self-development and character transformation. It is often ignored by coaches, slowing down or sometimes completely eliminating progress. It prevent your growth to be whole and trim the potential in half.
The culture fosters only positive emotions and portrays negative ones as unacceptable. Being completely invulnerable to life’s challenges serves no purpose. We can’t pretend that there is no evil in us. Chances are, in times of great uncertainty and danger, “negative” emotions like anger or rage can save your or someone else’s life. Nature will push you beyond the comfort zone to your primal instinct, hence there is a need to know your capacity, which is possible with self-exploration of shadow personality.
Shadow is your partner, and ego is its best friend.
Observing, discovering, integrating, and applying shadow principles are the key steps to a more joyful life, the one everyone so much wants but is afraid to try because of the difficult work it requires.
There is no clear recipe for how exactly to deal with shadow, but a few broadly recognized steps can help you start:
Awareness — observer your behaviors, emotions and thoughts. Become curious about yourself and take mental notes
Discovery — confront, learn, question, and challenge your life’s principles, values, and decisions. Maintain an internal dialogue to gain a clear understanding of root causes. Answer the “why” and “what for” questions until answers start to make sense.
Integration — find a way to channel your “negative” energy into something positive and constructive. People do it in sports, art, public speaking, and pretty much everything else. Find a way to put your shadow personality to good use and partner with it.
Acceptance — accept the reality that you have a shadow and that it manifests itself in different shapes and forms. Share this with people you care about and teach them to react accordingly. It will help tremendously to avoid conflict and unnecessary judgments.
At this point, it should be clear that the shadow can and should be used for better purposes, rather than oppressed as we have conventionally thought.
Once you master a skill a little bit more, you can communicate with your shadow through dreams. It will find a way to tell you what is important and become your guide.
Learn from the darkness
How hard is it for you to say No to people?
Did you know that saying No implies a shadow reaction.
Ultimately, what you mean when you say it is that you are not going to do or accept what other people want; hence, you are prepared to stand your ground, purely based on capacity for aggression they need to be aware of. That is the reason many people can’t say no — they are afraid of other people’s shadow reactions because their own is undeveloped. If someone were to try to convince you to say yes, you should be able to bring shadow forces up and put them to good use.
Saying No is key element in development of healthy shadow personality.
You are not becoming stronger or more aggressive; you become braver.
Apart from saying No, there is another great mechanism to help develop your shadow identity without oppressing emotions.
Being honest with yourself and with others will accelerate personality development and make life more open for transformation. Having an honest conversations with yourself is hard to start, which is why you want to break it down into the smallest steps possible. It is a never-ending game, so win one little step at a time. Once you’ve been honest with yourself, start telling the truth to your closest friends and family, and learn how to deal with other people’s emotions. Only after that should you switch to “strangers” and be ready to stand for your truth.
The alternative is being harmless person with fake morality
Recognize your weaknesses
Creating effective awareness and discovery of shadow is hard, but there are certain behavior manifestations you can use to jump-start the exploration.
Here are some examples of behavior to explore and address as quick start:
You are suppressing your feelings and desires — because you can’t or don’t know how to get what you really want, you develop an addiction of some kind instead. It pushes your emotional power into the darkness
You judge and point out insecurities in others — technically projecting your own issues and creating fictional barriers for yourself, becoming blindsided by the truth. Look in the shadow mirror more often
You are misusing your position of power — it helps you feel better to hide your harmless personality by abusing people who sees you as authority
You are playing the victim — removing all the responsibilities and obligations, and losing all control over your unrealized potential.
Social experiment with shadow
I validate shadow potential by asking people to tell me their goals.
Once they have happily done so, I ask them to share their true goal. After a moment of confusion and me explaining what I mean, people find themself a bit ashamed to share what they really want, but had to put more morally acceptable goal to frontier, hence no one is going to judge them.
Then I challenge their true goal one more time. Here is where things start to get really interesting. This time they must think really carefully and explore the dark side before commenting. Genuine goal would almost certainly have a flavor of shadow that society consider unethical. Many people don’t even realize what their true goal is, because they never talk to their dark side. A lot run away with excuses and comment of me being mad. Having radical honest conversation about true goal opens those people eyes and give the food for thought.
Most people create three layers of goals hiding their true motives.
How many layers of “true” goals do you have? What do you really want?
Ultimately, people have been using the concept of shadow and “negative” emotions in the most unproductive way. Suppressing anger, sadness, grief, rage, hate, and frustration just results in emotional imbalance and breaks up human identity. Many just stay lost all their lives, not sure who they are.
We confuse harmlessness with morality, creating phony personalities in order for others to like us rather than understand and accept. Outcome is obedient society not capable of critical thinking with destructive mindset and fear of being judged, hiding the truth from themself.
What I believe we need instead is to learn how to develop the identity of the whole person. One that can withstand social and natural challenges, be able to say no, help other people discover and protect the truth.
Explore darkest parts of your mind, parter with shadow and become YOU.
(c) Artem Gonchakov