HOW TO HARNESS THE DARK SIDE OF YOUR CHARACTER
This is the final article of the series. Now that you know exactly how the shadow works, we’ll tell you the strategies on integrating it with the rest of your personality and create a harmonious whole.
Confront your shadow
The first and the most difficult step in this process is to bring the shadow into light and accept its existence. However, it’s quite challenging, because our normal tendency towards our dark side is one of hiding and suppressing. Some of us might be hiding it for so long, that we are not even aware of its existence. It’s easy to expose and moralize about other’s dark secrets but it’s very difficult to confront your own demons. But remember, you’ll live an incomplete and an uncomfortable life if you don’t do it. Therefore you must know, it’s worth the effort.
The first step in this process would be to look for all the “signs of the release” that I mentioned in the last article. Notice any one-sided emphatic traits in yourself and assume the opposite is lying buried deep. Look at your own emotional pressure points, what hurts you the most, what touches you deeply, your sensitivity and extreme touchiness to a remark. Dig it and bring it to the surface. Look deeply into the traits that you like to project onto others. The traits that you so vehemently hate and abhor.
For example, if you really hate the narcissistic types, the reality might be that you are trying too hard to hide your own secret narcissistic tendencies and authoritarian desires. Think of your “teenage” years when the shadow is relatively free and in the process of development. How did you behave then? What were some of the characteristic features of your character back then that you later on tried so hard to suppress. What were your inclinations at that time, that your parents didn’t like much and steered you towards career paths that more suited them and their social status. Try to remember the things that ignited a sense of wonder and excitement in you that you have lost now. Think as if you have become more and more like others and you have to regain you authentic self once again. As you go deeper, and the outlines of your shadow begin to appear, the process will become easier. A time will come when the pain of this process will be replaced with the joy of discovery. You will feel like an “archaeologist uncovering hidden secrets”.
As you successfully uncover the hidden depths of your shadow, your instinctive reaction will be to maintain a superficial awareness of it, because certainly it will make you uncomfortable to know such things about yourself. But that will be a disastrous thing to do, as this way you will further strengthen the dichotomy within you, and all your hard work will go to waste. Therefore, you must completely accept the shadow and begin to integrate it into your personality, in such a way that everything balances out.
To motivate you, let’s consider the example of the great “ABRAHAM LINCOLN”. He clearly had two sides to his personality, which you might call a split one. On one side he was extremely ambitious (how else one can become the president of US) with an almost cruel streak to it, while on the other side he had a sensitivity to his personality that gave him a softness and the ability to feel other’s pain. He successfully integrated these two sides, in a way that helped him create a harmonious personality.
His ambition made him succeed as a politician, enabling him to master all the maneuvers that politicians employ. He channeled it into winning debates, and canvassing for elections. As for his soft side, he loved poetry, had an affection for animals and hated witnessing any physical cruelty. Sometimes he could go into bouts of deep melancholy and sadness over all the evil in the world. He did not deny it either. Instead, he used this soft side, to connect deeply with the common man, which is extremely critical for a politician, making him feel that he actually felt his pain and empathized with him. Integrating these seemingly opposite qualities gave his public persona an enormous authenticity, which attracted people to him in a mysterious way.
You should also follow his example. You should actively strive to become an “integrated human”, who has “come to terms with his demons” and has “humanized” them. Another great benefit of such a persona is that, people can never really figure you out, which keeps their attention hooked onto you (I will write a separate article on this topic).
If you want you can stop at just embracing and integrating the shadow. You can live a relatively peaceful and harmonious life with it. But there is another height which you can also achieve. But you must know, “it comes with a price”. The last step in this journey, is to become overtly offensive and aggressively showing the shadow and challenging the existing social norms of your society.
As you know, human beings develop intricate social codes to maintain a degree of sustainability in the society. These codes force us to become nice and caring, or else we will be banished by the group. Desperate to cling to the group, we stick to what the society tells us to do. But this makes us defensive and secretly angry over all these rules. It kills the ambition within us, and we become timid and less confident. The shadow shows itself but mostly in forms of fits and bouts of outbursts.
On the contrary, if you look at people who are very successful in their fields you will notice that they are much less bound by these codes and express themselves much more freely. They are assertive and extremely ambitious, they care much less about what others think. They break conventions frequently and openly, and instead of getting punished, are greatly rewarded. You can see countless examples of these people in the form of politicians, movie stars and other media personalities.
Consider for example the movie stars and directors, they are probably the most free and open people in any society. They can touch on sensitive topics in their movies, sometimes even mock many of the closely held views of the society. Yet they are the most successful and high paid people in the world. What these people are doing is that they are actively tapping into the creative energies of their subconscious and then showing it to the world. But the price of getting aggressive like this is that you can also get into trouble, and you might face extreme opposition. Additionally, you’ll make a lot of enemies. So it’s your decision to make, if you can pay the price, go for it.
So as the first step in this, you should value your opinion more than others without being apologetic, particularly when it comes to your areas of expertise. Secondly, be assertive in daily life about your ideas and compromise less. But you must do it in a controlled way at appropriate moments. Thirdly, start caring less what people will think of you as you should know they only speak against you, deep down they are envying you, as we talked about in the last article that “behind active hate is deep envy”. Fourth and very important is that you must, at times offend and hurt people who are blocking your path, who are unnecessarily criticizing you. These are the best moment to let you shadow reign free and show it proudly.