Coming to terms with the darker side of your personality is no easy task. It’s often something we ignore and repress. We choose to look the other way at our own snide remarks, constant eye rolling and judgmental views in our every day reactions. With life for Millennials being treated like a constant popularity contest, it’s inherent in our culture to try to be “better than” and the emphasis on putting down is very real. I realized recently, after a massive fight with my boyfriend, and some terribly rude and impatient interactions some major things about some dark imagery lurking under the surface. The fact that selfishness and boredom was slowly causing strain on my relationships and career was just a symptom of a much deeper issue. Often these messy rebuttals were not what I originally intended in my head. I would often times in the past few months, say things I did not want to say or let words roll of my tongue with a flavor of cruelty or disdain that was not truly within my heart. I felt like a prisoner of some terrible character that had taken over my mind and words. I knew I could be doing better but I could do very little to stop it the surge of bitterness that swelled up inside my psyche. It was as if some unseen force was controlling me behind the scenes, forming me into someone I was not. In all truth, on some level there was a hidden force at work. My true self was being pushed and over ruled by my shadow, a term coined by Carl Jung. The Shadow relates to the parts of yourself that have been left ignored, hurt, abused, traumatized. The feelings associated with these acts, especially that stem from an early age that become repressed and stored in our psyche. Only to grow darker and deeper until they literally swell up from the wells of the mind to seek attention by creating drama, anxiety and issues with those around you and ultimately yourself. I knew this was happening to me, and I tried to stop it, but I felt as if I was under a spell. It was only after I began to lose my boyfriend, that I came to take my personal development work a step deeper, and start to create a conscious conversation with this maniacal bitch inside my head that was ruining my life.
I did literally just that. Struck up a conversation by naming this character, recognizing her, and giving her a place at the mental table. Who are you? Why are you upset? I started a dialogue, and I got answers. I have been recently reading Romancing the Shadow, and Connie Zweig talks about helping clients with shadow work by giving names to the unconscious characters. After thinking about who she was, her voice, and what it represented I discovered, she was, in all essence The Bitch. The Bitch was back, so to speak because she needed attention. She felt like everyone was getting attention except her, and she was going to get it any way possible. Even if that meant snapping at people and calling them out on being boring. Because The Bitch is from NY, and is scrutinizing, and mean because she has to be. The last time she wasn’t she was made fun of. Ridiculously outcasted for being clueless in middle school. Well that will never happens to The Bitch again because she is ruthlessly cool, and ever changing and NOW and wants to know why this is so boring and wheres her drink and why is no one fawning over her.
So I say back to her, “It’s totally OK. I love you. I appreciate all the hard work you’ve been doing and how amazing you are.” I compliment her on her intelligence, and her ability to stand up for herself. “I think your a great addition to the psyche. I love that you are who you are and your safe here. It’s OK. You’ve made it. You can actually relax, and accept who you are because we accept who you are. And you can get a lot more out your interactions with people by meeting them where they are and seeing them in a clear moment of non judgement. You were judged but that’s over. Sending love and hugs to you!” The Bitch melts and dissolves into a beautiful happy little girl, running with a butterfly and I am freed. I spend two hours in a bathtub and cry and mourn for lost childhood but at the end I feel better. I can “see” again. I can feel clearly again. I can truly love again, because I’ve tamed the shadow, by hearing her. I’ve let love in on an unlovable part.
I really recommend Romancing the Shadow. I started reading it when I was really moving from my unconscious before I started therapy. Often times the shadow can come out in bursts of anger, addiction and self destruction. Creating a simple dialogue is so helpful. Hoping to repair the wounds in myself and that I may have inflicted in others. If we have trauma, there is a way to change the pattern and create positive interactions from a grounded centered place.