How to Stop Self-Sabotaging by Accepting Your Dark Side

Everyone has a “light” side and a “dark” side, but that’s not as simple as “good” and “bad”. Your dark side is called the shadow, and it’s an established psychological concept from the work of Carl Jung. Understanding, accepting, and even using your shadow is a necessary part of being a whole and healthy individual.

1. YOUR SHADOW IS A PERMANENT AND ESSENTIAL PART OF YOU.
Your shadow is primal: It’s raw, aggressive, selfish, unsympathetic, and not concerned with morality. Those who reject their dark side become off balance, resulting in a variety of neurological problems. But once you make peace with your shadow, you can obtain more empathy, confidence, power, and wisdom than you had before. You need to be comfortable baring your teeth before you can consciously choose not to do so.

2. IGNORING YOUR SHADOW IS MORE HARMFUL THAN USING IT.
If you want to be a healthy member of society, you repress your shadow. But without an outlet, it will show itself in damaging ways: outbursts of emotion, addiction, fanaticism, cowardice, and the deadening of the very spirit that makes you feel alive. The point is not to eliminate your shadow. You need to safely let it out to play so it doesn’t make you self-destruct.

3. SCHEDULE TIME TO LET YOUR SHADOW EXPRESS ITSELF.
You can choose activities that will help you both express and control your dark side. Martial arts and other artificial “battles” like team sports can help. Some people create art or music in a particularly rough and emotional manner. There are more intensive experiences, like festivals or survival courses. But you’d be surprised how quickly just yelling at the top of your lungs brings release.

MOVING FORWARD
You are not a saint. If you want to fill your life with stereotypically good works, there needs to be a ceremony for the bad ones. Many ancient celebrations were dedicated to this, so everyone in the tribe can “get it out of their system” and go back to coexisting peacefully. The next time you feel like you “just can’t take it anymore”, you probably shouldn’t. Do something about it.

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