Darkness and light do not exist without one and other. As human beings, we possess a side of light and a shadow side. When we are born, we do not know the difference between these two sides, in fact we do not even know their existence, until society slowly starts putting labels on us and everything else around us. Labels like good or bad, acceptable or not acceptable. We are taught to focus on the good, the positive, success, doing things that are acceptable in the society we live in.
There is nothing wrong with that except that when we put all our focus on doing what is right, we ignore our alter ego as Carl Jung calls it. Our alter ego, is our subconscious self, our shadow self. Can you imagine a single human being who does not feel anger, hate, jealousy, envy or a human being who does not have suppressed feelings and emotions? If you answered yes, you are wrong. All of us, including you, your partner, your mother, your father, your kids, you best friend, or a complete stranger, people at work… we are all human beings who are like coins with two sides. Each time we ignore and suppress our alter ego, we let it overpower us and take charge in our lives. Instead, what we need to do is the complete opposite. We need to embrace and accept our shadow self. Because only then can we find the true balance and grow the way we are supposed to grow. Here is how you can do it:
- Too much light will make you blind.
One of the reasons why we find ourselves not fully benefiting from the healing powers of meditation, positive affirmations, or even our own efforts of trying to be positive is we focus on the light too much. Think of it this way: Can you look directly into the sun with naked eyes? You can not. And you should not either, because you will end up causing damage to your eyes. Meditation, positive affirmations and most of new age practices are largely misunderstood and not practiced as they are intended to be practiced. All the positivity they offer, is usually all we focus on. But if you look and think deeper, there is more in them that meets the eye. They do not teach you to ignore negativity, but they show you how to not be a slave to it. If you want to truly see the whole picture you need to search the answers in the darkness as much as in the light itself. So next time you meditate or tell yourself positive affirmations or try to think positively remember that what you are trying to do is not getting rid of your shadow self, instead, looking into your shadow self and acknowledging what lies in there.
- Take notes
When you find yourself in a situation where you feel jealous of someone, or you feel angry at something or someone, take notes. Analyze why a certain situation or a certain person evokes certain feelings that tick you off. Take notes with complete honesty. You will see that just like we have our own shadow self, everyone’s shadow also falls on us and when it does, it sends a message to our subconscious mind which gives us the signals in the form of anger, hate, embarrassment etc. Because each person that makes us feel a certain way, awakens something in our dark side just like they do in our light side. After a while, you will see that everything you feel about a certain someone or a situation, is a reflection of your own shadow self. If you already did not have a problem with that emotion subconsciously, you would not be bothered by it.
- Do not be afraid of your shadow self
When we talk about our alter ego, we do not talk about being dangerous psychopaths underneath the surface. Instead we talk about very basic and natural human emotions. Like we mentioned above hate, anger, suppressed desires, jealousy, envy, judgments… If you constantly try to keep them in a dark untouched corner, you will see that the more you hide them the more you will start to fear them and the more you fear them, the more they will overpower you. Perfection does not mean something absolutely beautiful with no defects and absolutely positive with no negativity. Perfection comes from the mixture of good and bad, the darkness and the light, beauty with flaws. So instead of hiding your flaws, take a closer look at them and see that they are there and they will always be there. But only if you can accept them can you overcome your fears and embarrassment and shyness or whatever else they make you feel. When you analyze and find out why you feel a certain way in a given situation, you face your fears by accepting the reality. It is only then can you truly overcome them and move on without letting the shadows overpower you.
- Love yourself
Yes, you hear this often and maybe most of the time in a shallow way. But really. Love yourself. You are not perfect especially when you force yourself to be perfect. Nobody is perfect. We all have our flaws. In fact, perfection comes from imperfection. Even the person you idolize and admire the most also have their alter egos, their shadow selves. So instead of beating yourself up with guilt, anger and frustration, love yourself the way you are. One of the first rules to find true balance is self love and self respect. Look in the mirror with open eyes and open mind. See the real you. Face the real you. And love this person. Show yourself respect. Everything starts with you and within you.The healing you need will not come from the outside but from within.
- Let your thoughts flow
Mindfulness meditation teaches us to keep our focus in the present and it brings us balance by recognizing our thoughts and emotions. Often when you meditate, you find your mind fly around like a bug landing from one thought to another. Next time you meditate, before you bring your focus back to your breathing (since this is the way mindfulness meditation works), give labels to your thoughts as your mind wanders around. Let’s say in the middle of meditation you lost your focus and started to think about something that made you angry, instead of being carried away with that emotion, label it as “thought”. Simply that, “thought”. And then get back to focusing on your breathing. By simply naming each thought and emotion as “thought”, you will notice they will start to lose their power over you. Same goes with the positive emotions. Since our purpose is to gain our balance back, we also do not want to blind ourselves with light. So acknowledge those too while meditating and give them the same label. Once you can achieve that, you will be able to communicate with your subconscious openly and not be the slave of your light or darkness.
Originally published here at Raising Perspectives July 28, 2016