We all have our “demons”. Those parts of our personality that might not be the very best side of us at times. Society tells us we should shield and protect others from that part of us and we should actively suppress those thoughts and actions when we are with others. While I agree that we should not walk around being an asshole just because we feel like it and, I do not agree that we should try to remove that part of ourselves in its entirety. I have another idea. I believe we should tame our darkness and here are the reasons why.
Channel The Beast (use it as fuel) – Carl Jung possessed some serious badassery when it came to understanding the dark side of our nature as you can see when he said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” This is much easier said than done and requires a great deal of focus and humility. Humility may seem like a strange word in this context but you have to be able to recognize your own weakness because allowing the dark side of your nature to rule is just that. Once you understand that you contain both light and darkness, you can begin to understand how being your complete self requires the fuel that your darkness often provides. Anger and fear can be powerful motivators so long as you do not let them lead. Once you take away their power but harness the energy, you can tackle whatever lies ahead. Again Jung provided some serious insight into just how difficult this can be when he observed, “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” It is my belief that not everyone has the desire to tackle their beast and that certainly is a choice each of us has to make. As Jung said, may folks will blame fate for their actions and resulting outcomes. I think this stems from some inherent belief that certain parts of us are “bad”. There is a paradox here because outside of ourselves we fight the fallacy of control and believe we can make people do things and make certain events happen by sheer force of will…which is lunacy (which is funny because this word means “from the moon” which is what we used to believe caused certain conditions like epilepsy and mental illness…again something external that was out of our control…but I digress). Yet when it comes to our internal machinations, which are the only things we might exercise control over, we claim we are powerless? I think the following little gem sums up my thoughts on that…
Project The Beast (use it as a mirror) – Jung nailed it again when he observed that, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for understanding the darkness in others.” Imagine how many times you have been frustrated, angered, embarrassed, or hurt by the actions of another person. We feel this way because we are emotional creatures and we have the unrealistic expectation that everyone will always like/need/want/desire/respect us so when these needs are not met, we experience internal conflict and our world crumbles. Our first reaction is almost always to project out and blame others for their behavior and sometimes we never get past that and the experience is chalked up to mistakes of “the other”. This is well researched by smart folks like Maslow and his thoughts on our needs for “Love & Belonging” and also McClelland and his theory on our need for “Affiliation”. Whatever theory you want to ascribe to, the results are the same…we need to be loved and wanted (for a more comedic take click here and see what Silvio has to say about Seinfeld and his need for attention).
Once we not only understand but embrace our own darkness, we can begin to better understand what lurks inside of others…which makes it much easier to process their behaviors. Since we know our own motivations, it would seem to reason that others share the same insecurities. Jung also addressed this with the following, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Imagine the change this drives when we must now evaluate someone else’s actions in context of our own insecurities. We can no longer view them as an antagonist who said or did something with malice aforethought but now they are just like us…insecure, emotional, and desperate for acceptance (again for a comedic take, check out when Coach Klein loses his irrational fear in “The Waterboy”). I am not proposing you imagine a cute baby’s head on your arch nemesis…but merely accepting that everyone is wrestling with their own darkness just like you.
You have every right to think and/or believe (as those are two very different things and you should decide for yourself which you engaging in…head versus heart) that this is all psycho-babble but consider this parting thought from Jung, “I must have a dark side if I am to be whole.”