Meditation helps us to understand the mechanism of the mind, to love, to live in the present, and to use the full potential of our lives.
Meditation helps us to understand the mechanism of the mind, to love, to live in the present, and to use the full potential of our lives.
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.
“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.
Most of the times your “Egoic self” becomes a greatest hindrance in advancing towards your goal or purpose in life. It is human nature to feel happy when praised and many of us feel offended when criticised or corrected. That is the egoic self which is in play.
Egoic mind gets conditioned by our environment and upbringing and your identification gets compulsive through association with objects and people. This kind of conditioning of past lets ego to identify with things and people. The impulsive and involuntary thinking that you are more important than those around you or being superior takes you over and separates you from your authentic self.“ The ego tends to equate having with being: I have therefore I am and the more I have therefore the more I am.” – E. Tolle.
This identification with your made up self thereby activates stressful reactions in your body and create resistance to joy, happiness and abundance that you desire to create on your journey towards your goal.
Ego is not our nature and it is a created phenomenon. Here are some ways to transcend ingrained ideas of self-importance to help you identify with your purpose.
Let go of “I Know It All” attitude.
Ego cannot bear to admit that it does not know enough. By revealing “I Know It All” attitude, ego grows bigger, rigid, and self-willed, and opinionated thereby taking control over you. All that the mind knows is the borrowed information. A mind filled with information or full of knowledge makes you believe that you are the doer and takes hold on your authentic self. Let go of this habit and set yourself free.
Let go of “I am right, you are wrong.”
Being right strengthens the ego and pushes you in the direction of making others wrong. You get used to a habit of making others wrong in order to get a greater sense of who you are. Feelings of anger and bitterness replace loving and kindness.
“ Every ego is a master of selective perception and distorted interpretation.”
Be aware of your egoic interpretation of others by differentiating between facts and opinions. Embrace kindness and try to see the totality of a person or situation. Reject the need to be right always.
Let go of “ I am Superior.”
“True nobility isn’t about being superior to others or someone else. It’s about being better than your former self.”
Don’t assess others on the basis of their appearances, achievements, or possessions which are the indices of ego. There is no point in proving yourself superior or criticising or belittling other person’s knowledge or abilities. Instead be aware that we all have same creative force available to fulfil our goals.
Let go of “ I need more.”
“Always it is your true self which is perfect – it wants / needs nothing: It is your ego which is imperfect- it wants/ needs everything – “ M. Jeffrey
Ego strengthens its grip over you by creating a need to have more. This feeling of “not enough yet”makes you always strive thereby eliminating the possibility of ever arriving. The need for power or the need to be in control or for more creates a feeling of insufficiency and lack that needs to be filled. When you drop the habit of needing more, more of what you desire will arrive. You tend to create more by letting go of the desire for more.
Let go of “ I need to win.”
Ego divides us into winners and losers. Winning in all situations might make you competent enough. But egoic mind fears the opposite of winning. You start to feel worthless and insignificant if you lose. Do not identify yourself with your achievements. Lesser the need to take credit for your achievements, the more you stay connected to your abilities to win.
Let go of “what others think of me.”
You have no control over what others think of you. There is a great difference between “what others think of you” and “what you think others think of you.” This over concern of others perception of you lets the ego to have a strong hold and starts guiding you based on others opinions. Disconnect from the opinion of others and connect to your purpose. Let your purpose guide you.
Let go of assigning “negative mental labels.”
Assigning negative mental labels to people or situations will further strengthens ego. Ego loves to complain and feel resentful. This way you tend to feel negative towards the people and the situation you are in and tends to treat the moment as an end or an enemy. These grievances further turn into stronger negative emotions and hinder your personal growth. Drop the habit of complaining and being resentful .
Don’t let your ego convince you that the world shouldn’t be the way it is.
Ego is our hell and we are the creators of it. We create and suffer from stressful thoughts there after. But it is within our capacity not to create and move away from such created self. Become free of ego by being aware of it and by not getting identified with it. Be focused on your purpose.