There is a dark side within all of us, whether we display it or not that puts a fierce resistance to change. We are always under pressure to be good and we don’t want to show our less politically correct selves. Broadcasting an image merely to seek appreciation and acceptance of others erodes our self esteem. Even talented and successful people remain anxious and insecure if they hide behind a social mask.
Your personal shadow is the sum of those aspects of your being that you deny, repress, devalue and disown. These rejected qualities of your personality need not necessarily be evil,immoral or negative. They force our mind to come up with reasons to disown or reject them. “What you reject, for whatever reason, becomes part of your shadow. In other words, your shadow is what you insist you are not.”
According to Carl Jungian Philosophy, the shadow is the Unconscious part of our minds. In a person with low self-esteem, these shadow parts could end up overtaking some of the positive aspects. Fear of being judged for these negative aspects of your personality might lead to suppression of more feelings which may not be totally negative. For instance, many men, rejecting fear, bury their sensitive and nourishing qualities into their shadow. Many women rejecting anger, push their assertive, warrior qualities into their shadow. We always try to build an image in our ego that fits into positive version of ourselves. When we fail to achieve this version which we built, we give rise to a host of negative reactions.
Accepting your ‘self’ with both positives and negatives not only improves your self-esteem but also opens up a possibility to change and provides an opportunity to grow. For instance, Knowing that you have a lazy side helps you to consciously indulge in work rather than giving into your tendencies.
Illuminating your dark side
“Your shadow lives a life of unseen feelings, animating forces, and stifled roles that cry out for repression.”
When you start illuminating, you will be able to channel their expression in positive and constructive ways.
1. Makes you ‘complete’ by embracing your feelings, tendencies and highs & lows. In finding wholeness, you become willing to accept what you have and opportunities whether or not you feel worthy.
2. You regain your ‘authentic self’. Most of us fear that if other people really know us, they would reject us and we tend to show ourselves in bits and pieces. By accepting your dark side, you come to realise there is nothing left to hide.
3. You regain ‘control’ on your life. Your shadow is what you have not seen. It is the unknown that always tends to have control. You don’t have to deny your darker side. Acknowledging your dark side lets you regain your control on your life and you can act decisively.
4. You experience greater ‘freedom’ and ‘Compassion’ towards others. When you come to discover your shadow, you free the energy and attention that was previously bound up in defending an idealised self-image. We come to realise that we too share same fears and pretences and it becomes more difficult to criticise others.
“ knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.”- Carl Jung
Ways to illuminate your dark side.
Through Meditation and confession.
Confession is good for the self and meditation is yet another form of confession. In meditation, the content you hide from the world rises to the surface of your awareness to be noticed. Confession acts as light that illuminates your dark side. Don’t try too hard to destroy or make it disappear. Take notice of the dark side. Just illuminating the shadow reveals that the shadow you feared might destroy you is the one that can set you free.
Through finding your balance.
There is always a tug-of-war between opposing values inside of us. Finding a balance by learning to cooperate by integrating the aspects of our character that we previously rejected helps us to illuminate the dark side. Finding greater balance helps us integrate all our inner conflicts and inconsistencies thereby creating an opportunity for a flexible approach to life and to change into the person you want to be.
Through Contemplation and reflection.
Contemplation is focused reflection on a particular aspect that leads to a better insight and improves your awareness. By contemplating on what you gave and received and what troubles or difficulties are caused because of you reveals much of your shadow side. You begin to see the reality by observing what most bothers or irritates you about other people and makes you realise that those very qualities you would most strongly deny if accused of having.
Reflecting on your relationship with others shifts your attitude from resentment to gratitude and criticism to kindness. When you look at your own tendencies and consider carefully what you can do about them, you will be able to live constructively.
Illuminating your shadow reveals your dependence on unconditional worth of reality which includes all things and people around you.
As your understanding of ‘self’ improves, you will be able to eliminate worries, anger and anxiety.
continue to refine yourself by illuminating your shadow.
Being happy is something we all want. What makes you happy?
What are the factors that can lead to happiness?
Many of us correlate it to friends, relationships, prosperity, appearances, success and so on. But these are all external factors which all of us have no control upon. So they cannot be considered as permanent factors in creating happiness. Paradoxically our aim in pursuing all these factors is for happiness, but many times what we say we want and what we do is never in alignment with each other. We say we want to be happy, but we make choices that bring opposite of happiness.
The ability to feel happy is something which is innate. Two people living in the same world with the same set of circumstances can experience life differently just by the way they think. ‘Happiness’ or ‘misery’ all depends on how you choose to respond to these circumstances. What you pursue in your mind is what you get out of life. In a way, your attitude towards life and your thoughts determine your happiness quotient.
“The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Certain facts about happiness you need to know in the pursuit to make it a habit.
*Your happiness is not dependent on others. what people say or think and the situations around have no hold on your happiness index.
* Happiness is fundamental natural state of mind. We are all happy beings born with natural state of joy, compassion, and kindness.
* Accumulations and appearances do not result in happiness. Material things come and go, appearances change, but beneath all remains innate secret of unreasonable happiness.
* Fear and happiness cannot co-exist. The unhappiness producing process always feeds on your fears and worries.
* Unhappiness is self-created. You are the own creator of your thoughts and you have the power to create your own happiness.
When we understand these facts, we can change our thinking from ‘I want happiness’ to ‘me is a happy being’. It is necessary to cultivate happiness habit to drive off the thoughts which create unhappiness and to replace them with happy ones.
Turning towards happiness is a valid goal and you have to make a conscious decision to seek happiness by cultivating the habit of happiness.
Certain obstacles you should look for in the pursuit of cultivating the “Happiness Habit.”
The moment you become judgemental about others, you get into unhappy modes such as anger, resentment, ill-will, etc., which not only takes you away from your natural state of being, but also blocks further happiness.
Tip: Accept the differences in opinions and views. Develop appreciation and awareness and change your perception of others.
Another hindrance in the pursuit is keeping expectations. Expecting what others would say or how they behave is like expecting their future. In a way, you are expecting them to match with your belief systems and when they don’t, you begin to feel let down or sad.
Tip: Do not base your happiness on the outcomes as having expectations from others and meeting people’s expectations, both will fluctuate your happiness.
Dwelling on past and future.
Reminding or thinking about past hurts or unpleasant events becomes a major obstacle in the cultivation of happiness habit. Thinking about future causes worry and stress.
“You can do nothing to change the past and future will never come exactly as you expect.
Tip: Focus on your ‘Now’ and whenever your focus drifts off to other places and times, map back.
Stress is a result of negative programming we have imbibed. Stress is created by feelings of fear, anxiety, or worry. Unease caused by imagining a bad outcome to a present or future event or situation.
“Stress comes from the way you relate to events or situations.”
Tip: Recognise that happiness is not contained in events or situations. It is up to you how you respond to them and you always have a choice to choose stress-free thoughts.
How you perceive challenges.
Happiness a lot depends on how you take up the challenges or obstacles. It all depends on how you face and overcome them. Treating the challenges as be-all and end-all situations will block happiness and causes depression, and discouragement. Take them as work out situations
Tip: Use the so-called problems or obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow more stronger for your future endeavors.
Developing certain personal factors or inner characteristics can lead to happiness. This can create further inner transformation and can be achieved by regular practice and repetition of new thought patterns. Here are some practices to cultivate “Happiness Habit.”
You feel good physically, mentally and emotionally by focussing on positive patterns of thinking. Substitute unhappy thought patterns with positive happy thoughts. “The happiness habit is developed by simply practicing happy thinking.”
Practice virtue of patience.
It takes time to cultivate all the qualities that create state of well-being and happiness. We acquire many unhappy and negative mental traits over time. So you need to develop patience in order to address and counteract each one of these negative traits.
“Happiness is the state of being centredness which is here and now”. Keeping your awareness and concentration in the present moment and letting go of past can be achieved by practicing mindfulness.
Practice simple living.
“ The secret of happiness is not in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
Happiness is equal to your contentment. We have basic needs and endless wants. Know the difference and practice simple living.
Finally, base your actions and attitudes upon basic principles of happy living by choosing happiness. Some of the basics are that of caring, gratitude and good will.
“When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.”–Jess C. Scott
Our attitude towards our emotional state becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises. Fear, anger, guilt and anxiety are all emotional responses that can intensify suffering. Understanding your thoughts and emotions and of others leads to a higher level of emotional freedom and stability.
Emotional intelligence which is built on the foundation of self-awareness helps you to be more content and fosters your own productivity. You get better equipped in terms of how to handle things rather than worrying about what can go wrong. Negative emotional state can sabotage your clear thought and focus. Developing emotional stability capacitates focusing at will and inhibits strong impulses and urges. Also enhances other relationship attributes like influence, persuasion, and cooperation.
By knowing your feelings and remaining productive during difficult emotional episodes makes you emotionally stable.
• All emotions are essentially distorted and begin from our mental interpretation of what occurs around us.
• Emotions cannot be denied or controlled.
• Negative emotions are not an intrinsic part of human nature.
• Our negative emotions can be rooted out.
• Feelings fade over time and are not constant.
Every negative emotion contains a positive lesson and plays the role of a teacher. For example, fear generates alertness and caution. Anxiety indicates an urge to succeed. Insecurity reflects a desire to do well and to prove yourself. Concern reveals thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
“Emotional self-awareness is the building block of the next fundamental emotional intelligence: being able to shake off a bad mood”
To understand and to accept your emotions means appreciating the positive lesson contained in negative feeling. Although you cannot directly control or change your emotional state, you can create a stability by improving your emotional intelligence. Here are some ways to improve your emotional intelligence and to make peace with your feelings.
Improving emotional understanding.
Each one must act their own physician when it comes to their emotional well-being. The best method is to recognise your emotions as they occur. When you are emotionally distressed, you begin to feel very negative about yourself and with those around. Negative emotions like discontentment, grumbling, becoming frustrated, or over-assertiveness might arise.
By recognising your negative emotion that is influencing you negatively, you will be able to confront your weaknesses of your own mind. Becoming aware and understanding the reasons behind and effects they have on you, you will know what measures you need to take to clear them away. This will make you better at handling negative situations and helps you develop positive, productive, and clear thinking.
Accepting your emotions.
“Accept your feelings as natural phenomena and learn from them, but don’t let them run your life.”
You require an open mind to change your relationship with your feelings. For instance, we all react in different ways to ill spoken words or criticism. Some simply ignore and forget it altogether, whereas others feel hurt. Also, there are some who accept criticism and reflect on themselves and then try to correct their wrongdoings.
Acceptance of both positive and negative feelings while acting constructively improves your inner confidence. Instead of struggling in negative emotions, you create a store of inner strength and will be able to concentrate on your positives.
“Awareness of self and others, and its application in managing our inner self and our relationships is the essence of emotional intelligence.”
You don’t need to control emotions. They are natural like passing seasons. The key here is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Constantly building on your positive emotional state and learning from your negative emotions will make you an emotionally better person. At times, when you are obsessed by worries and anxieties, you need to have a resolute attitude and need to hold on to your strengths. Develop an attitude of tolerance and concentrate on your strengths instead of giving way to pessimistic thoughts and negative emotions.
Overcoming negative emotions.
Self-reflection is an excellent method to overcome negative emotions. When you attribute the cause of your negativity to outside factors, you become the target. But by reflecting upon yourself and accepting your mistakes, you will become aware that the emotional distress is also because of you. Remain flexible in the face of difficulties and never be too stubborn to change and refine yourself.
“ To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not in struggling with the old, but on building the new.”
It may be true that you might have had past experiences with failure and suffering, but it is very unlikely that you are going to face them through out. Do not restimulate an unacceptable thought or feeling. Overcome negative emotions by replacing passive, negative emotions with positive and constructive ones.