Do A Favour To The World — Be Authentically You
Have you ever wondered which one is the true you — the selfless, confident and altruistic side; or the selfish, insecure and dark side? All of us have two sides — the repressed and the expressed side.
The expressed side is the persona we present in our daily lives. It’s the character we want others to perceive us. We developed the expressed-side through our continuous social encounter with one goal — to survive.
The repressed side, on the other hand, is the opposite of that. It is the persona you secretly wish never existed. Our repressed side includes the tendency to feel superior, the desire to see people fall and the greediness towards materialistic things.
Growing up, people developed a social-mask to gain the approval of others while covering the underlying weakness within themselves. When you observe someone acting out of character, you are observing the un-repressed version of that person. In a sense, you can call that his/her true self.
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called it the Shadow. The Shadow consists of all the qualities about themselves that people try to repress. This repression is so deep that people are generally unaware of their Shadow.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” — Carl Jung
The Shadow has a thickness to it. In the moments when people reveal their dark side, we can see their voice and body language altering, almost as if another person is confronting us.
We develop the Shadow in our earliest years, highly dependent upon the way our parents or guardian raise us. As we age, there is an inevitable pressure to present a particular front to the world.
The need to fit into the group became primary motivation, so we learned to restrain the dark side of our personality. Most of us succeed at becoming a positive social being but at a price — we lost the touch of creativity and authenticity we had when we were young.
So how do you integrate the Shadow into your life?
First: Unveil the Shadow from within you
You need to look for indirect signs of the Shadow leaking from your personality. Your sensitivity to a remark, your tendency to ruthlessly critique others, your immense hatred towards a person, etcetera.
One of the most effective ways to uncover your Shadow is to reexamine your childhood. There are always some memories that never fade. And your life will be a continual cycle of avoidance of these memories for as long as you are not aware of it.
Unveiling my Shadow— I was watching a movie together with my siblings. While waiting for everyone to come, I started playing the movie first for 15 minutes. When all of my siblings were finally there, we restarted the movie. As the movie ran, I couldn’t stop myself from talking so excitedly about what’s going to happen in every scene, in that first 15 minutes.
I was eager to share, but nobody likes to be interrupted while watching a movie. After the 15 minutes mark, I said, “Now I don’t know what happen from here onwards. I haven’t watched”. One of my siblings then said, “Heck yes! Finally you can shut up and we can watch in peace”. This small occurence creates a Shadow that took me years to identify: that I have an innate need to express my experience to the world.
Second: Embrace the Shadow while being gentle to yourself
Your natural reaction in uncovering your Shadow is to feel uncomfortable and to maintain only a surface awareness of it. Your goal is to have an open acceptance of the Shadow and to integrate them into your present personality.
Consider the Shadow as having the depths that contain great creative energy. This energy deposits as potential energy for as long as you don’t utilise them. The brightest people of every civilisation have tapped into this creative reservoir which allowed them to stand out. After all, aren’t we all attracted to a person who possesses a smile that reminds us of a child, so sincere and full of excitement?
Embracing my Shadow — I’ve always noticed the two contradictory sides of my personality. One longs to stay silent and keeps everything to myself, another one yearns to express itself to the world. This was directly related to the childhood exprience I mentioned.
As I grew up, I have to battle the need to be expressive by telling myself that I shouldn’t be such a show-off to the world. We have to many of those people already. I disliked the ones who express too much of themselves online, while secretly yearn to do the same.
With this realisation, I understand that repressing the need to express myself will bring nothing but resentment. If I keep repressing my Shadow, the door of authenticity might be closed from me forever.
Third: Show the world your authentic self
That’s the only way people will relate to you. Most of the time we suffer from the endless social codes we have to adhere to. Being so nice becomes a habit, which turns into timidity, lack of confidence and indecision.
It’s wise to look at those who are successful in their field. Inevitably, they are the ones who are much less bound by social codes. They care very little about how others perceive them. They do not live to please everyone, but their authenticity leaves everyone pleased.
The path to authenticity starts with respecting yourself before others. It’s not about blindly letting your ego overpower you, but rather it’s about discovering the pathways to channel the inner-genius reservoir within you. You are doing a favour to the world by blessing them with your gifts, as opposed to becoming another human being who breathes but was never alive.
Expressing my Shadow — The strategy to integrate the Shadow into my current personality involves a lot of experimentations. Nonetheless, it helped me to be less hypocritical.
I realised that I’m slowly growing up to be an advocate or a person who loves to express wisdom with others who needs it. I find comfort in making others feel comfortable, and I find peace in helping others be at peace with their self.
This particular Shadow of mine can easily be a reason for me to be a person who strongly condemns the expressive voice on the web, while ironically envious of those people. Yet, I believe the expression of this Shadow as a positive outlook benefits not only myself but also the world.
Summing it all up
In the world of artificial appearance that we live today, an authentic personality is a trait that is worth more than gold. As we age, we naturally lose the touch of the child within us because of the social expectations burdened upon our shoulders.
A person who’s able to integrate their Shadow into life will inevitably attract a large number of followings. This article is in no way advocating you to be a monster. But the message is simple: Unveil your Shadow, embrace it and learn to express it in the way that benefits the world.
This article is my reflection from the ninth chapter (The Law of Repression) from The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene.