Oh, no. Was I doing it again?
I am finding out that I’m not the person I always thought I was. All my life, if you’d asked me to describe myself, I’d tell you I was a laid back, easy going guy. Live and let live. Do your own thing. Chill out, man.
You get the picture.
Sadly, as I’ve been doing a little introspection over the last little while, I’ve noticed that I can actually be rather inflexible and controlling with other people. I seem to have a need to micromanage. Sometimes… OK, most of the time. (All the time…?)
How can this be? How can I not have noticed all my life?
I was listening to life coach Debbie Ford on a radio show last week. She was explaining about a person’s shadow side – that dark side of us that we don’t really want to be, the part of us we don’t want other people to see, the part of us with all those buttons that other people push and drive us crazy. So what do we do? We suppress that part of us and deny that it even exists.
Now, this shadow side is not necessarily evil. It’s made up of those parts of our character that were always discouraged, about which we were (or still are) teased. Every family has its shadow side – the things you were told you shouldn’t be: noisy, artistic, blue collar. As we’re growing up, we pick up these rules unconsciously and firmly tuck away any “wrong” feelings we might have, until we end up confused and not even knowing ourselves.
The problem is that this hidden dark side insists on coming out. (Ususally at the most inopportune time.) It just covers up your eyes, so most of the time you don’t see it. You think you are acting quite differently from the way you really are. When you do notice, it drives you crazy.
You might say you don’t want to be like your parents. Then you hate it when recognize those aspects in your life – and go ballistic when you see your kids do it.
Suppress it as much as you like, but those characteristics will pop up like submerged beach balls. Rage, crusade against them, and one day, shloop, those beach balls will pop up out of the water and you’ll act them out. This has been the downfall of many a powerful person.
Anything you don’t embrace will end up controlling you. So what to do? Find your shadow side and get to know it.
How do you do that? Here’s a few ideas:
– pick one of your positive traits and look for the opposite
– do you see irritating characteristics in others? Maybe that’s you? (“You spot it, you got it.”)
– identify what others are “always” doing to you. (“Everyone is always trying to control me.”) and see if that’s something you’re doing
what makes you angry? Do you do that?
– what things do you beat yourself up for? (Don’t make excuses, like “I’m just trying to be practical.”)
Give voice to your those inside selves. Writing or journaling is a good way of going about it.
Just remember, this is human and happens to all of us.
Me? I’ll keep blogging. And go back to doing morning pages.
How about you?