No matter how well adjusted we think we are, and whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have a dark side. I think it’s what makes us so interestingly human. But until we acknowledge that we even have a dark side, or "shadow self", most of us will struggle to reach our full potential.
You may be wondering what on earth I mean by acknowledging our dark side? Shouldn’t dark feelings, emotions, thoughts be safely locked away? Why would we even want to think about this side of ourselves when there are much more pleasant feelings to be had?
First there are dangers in repressing it, and second there are many benefits in exploring it.
By repressing our darker side we can inadvertently block self-improvement. It’s a bit of a catch-22 because it’s hard to see what was blocked until you’ve made a start on the journey, so you often can’t fathom what you are missing! But once started, it generally doesn’t take people long to see that it is actually a very powerful path to tread.
First of all admitting that we have a dark side (one that can sometimes rear its head in the most inopportune moments) is a good starting place.
Whether our dark side includes traits we are ashamed of, embarrassing fears, jealously, bitterness, impulses, judgements, anger, sadness, hidden desires, or something else, by having the courage to look straight down the barrel of these darker feelings, emotions and/or thoughts as they arise can start to give you access to unrealised strengths.
Once you delve a little deeper and begin to explore and understand why some of these darker feelings or thoughts are present, you will find that you are able to more completely accept who you are, and begin to become more comfortable with your own emotions, including recognising them, understanding them and speaking more authentically about them.
This in turn can help you to be a better communicator, a better listener, more compassionate towards your self and others, more honest about your own needs, more self aware, more authentic and more respected for it.
When we begin to develop a full-bodied awareness of our dark side, it leads directly to self-improvement, sometimes in unexpected ways, and helps us create a more successful and fruitful life for ourselves.
So contrary to popular belief, our dark sides are highly valuable, they can unlock a powerful pathway to deeper gifts that lie within us so that we may lead more successful lives – but only if we are willing to look a little closer at ourselves.
If you are interested in making friends with your dark side you may find the following books interesting reads:
“Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche” by Robert A. Johnson
“The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” by Deborah Ford
If you are based in Brisbane feel free to drop in for a chat. I offer coaching and counselling sessions and run a range of workshops and courses.
Have a lovely day!