Most of the people who read this blog (and 100% of the people who write it) are people who strive to -or at least make a conscious effort to- be the best person they can be.
We all have some values or ideas in our heads about what constitutes a good person, and we aim to behave in that manner. So you can safely assume that you and me have good intentions and try to do the righteous thing, even in situations where it takes some effort. Incidentally, we’re turned off by behavior or values that are the opposite of what we want to see in the world. Including things like violence, repression, greed, manipulation, dishonesty, etc.
I can say that in my case I’m so turned off by these things that it moves me a little too much at times. I can sometimes walk through a super market, see someone buy a bag of cancer and literally feel deep sadness for the rainforest that was burned just so these people can indulge in their unhealthy habit. If that makes me a whiney bitch, sue me.
But regardless of our good intentions, it would be an illusion to believe that people like you and me are “holy beans”. We are not better than other people. Everyone on this planet is equally human (except for those with prosthetic limbs or bureaucratic jobs 😉 ). Which means we are also capable of doing the very things we despise. We all lie. We all manipulate (often unconsciously). We all bend the rules a little for our own benefit.
If you constantly remind yourself to be a good person, you won’t be very prone to flying off the handle. But for every kind of behavior we despise there is a situation out there that would drive you to do it. Could be a matter of life and death, could be just feeling cornered.
For example, I am a pacifist with all my heart and have never used violence in any situation (except for martial arts competitions). When someone aggressively provokes me, I just watch them without giving any reaction until they do or do not realize they’re making a fool of themselves.
However, if a stranger were to break in the house and attack my girlfriend, best friend or parents, I know I’d be capable of turning that person’s face into cranberry sauce quicker than I realize my actions have consequences. Even though I’m completely opposed to such behavior, I know myself well enough to know I’d go berzerk and throw my principles out the window when the nature of a situation calls for it. And there’s probably a scenario where you would do the same thing. Whether you admit it or not, you are still human.
That side of us exists whether we acknowledge it or not. We are all capable of doing such horrible things.
Repressing Your Dark Side
Last night I was watching a biographical movie, and an insignificant detail really upset me. I know this sounds really stupid, but:
Someone ordered to sink the enemy’s boat to protect (the honor of) their country. Regardless of the fact that I believe the very idea of countries existing is bullshit, I noticed I became very emotional because one person ordered for 300 people to die and thought it was a good decision. I kept thinking: "No matter what the cause is, how can you be so heartless?"
Even though I understood the decision on the level of managing a country, I felt a very strong resistance to accepting that people actually give such orders. It made me sick to think of that.
Now, I’m a firm believer of the fact that the way we perceive our outer world and how we feel about it, is an exact reflection of our inner psyche.
From that perspective, you could say that I have a very troublesome relationship with my own dark side; the part of me that would be capable of making such decisions when the situation somehow justifies it. Even though right now I can’t imagine what that situation would have to be.
Making a Deal with the Devil
They often say that what you are most scared of is yourself. I can't imagine people are such horrible people (what a great sentence) that everything about them is scary. I think what you are scared of in such a situation, are the parts of you that you don't acknowledge. In other words: your dark side.
A great investment in your own personal growth can be the very simple act of just sitting down for 2 minutes to meditate, or have a conversation with yourself (admit it, you do it all the time 😉 ) with the specific intention of getting to know your dark sides a little better without pushing them away.
For example, when I asked my dark side what he wanted, he told me a lot of things I hadn't been acknowledging about myself:
While I’m usually more of a free-flowing carpe diem person, my dark side likes to be in control. Sometimes he can be quite fun when he pops up in the bedroom. He likes to toy with people, things and situations. He likes destroying things that look nice when they turn into a million pieces. He’s very gluttonous, he likes huge orgies with lots of naked folks and copious amounts of drugs. He likes chaotic, loud noise and going crazy. He likes to put people who did bad things in a position where they feel powerless and humiliate them to teach them a lesson.
When you get into a conversation with your own dark side, what parts of yourself can you discover that you have not been acknowledging?
It’s important to know, because the more you repress something, the harder it’s going to bounce back at some point. Like that guy who keeps tolerating abuse and belittling comments from his friends even though it makes him mad, and then starts screaming horrible things at his wife (or worse) when he’s drunk. Or starts picking fights with strangers because he feels like such a loser that he needs to resort to senseless violence just to make him feel powerful again.
What if you could talk to your own dark side, ask them what they want and find a way to integrate those desires in your life in a positive way?
For example, I could tell my own dark side:
• “Okay, so you want to be in control of things? What if I could hand you the parts of my life where I feel I need to become more responsible, or need to get on top of things. I'll let you control the shit out of them because I can't seem to do it.''
• "What if I reward you with a lavish party if you help me achieve [insert positive goal that helps a lot of people]?"
• "Hey, you can use your appetite for destruction to help my friend demolish his house! He'll love you for it!”
Just find a time and place for your dark side to express their desires in a context where it actually serves a positive, love-oriented purpose. Instead of just letting it pop up every once in a while to fuck up your shit.
Look for the traits in your dark side that you actually respect. Their courage. Their immense power. Their ability to go through tremendous effort to get what they want. Then channel those aspects for a positive goal. Sometimes, their strength and hands-on no bullshit attitude can be exactly what you need to do to reach your goal.
I can see my relationship with my own dark side reflected in my worldview. I've always had a strong disdain for authority figures. I rarely met one who didn't abuse their power, and I couldn't stay a subordinate when I noticed them making clearly stupid decisions. My entire short-lived school career was a constant fight to show teachers whose policies I didn't condone (or who were just plain wrong) that they had no power over me.
This led me to lots of joyful situations like being locked up and abused by a security team for 48 hours even though I was innocent, just because I kept rejecting their authority. While there was enough evidence for me and my friend to be declared innocent, they just kept us there because it became a fight for them as much as it was for me.
But if I really want to inspire people to make a positive change in the world, or want to instill any kind of movement that matters, I'll need to learn how to be a leader and become more authoritive. If actually want to make an impact, I will need the very parts of me I despise in other people.
I'll need to learn that expressing our power isn't evil. That authority only becomes harmful when it's used for a goal that doesn't come from an honest or loving place. A display of strength that is not balanced with a healthy portion of love becomes destructive and wicked. But you could just as well argue that kindness without a healthy side-dish of warrior energy becomes weak and complacent.
So we need both. We need to care deeply about other humans. But we also need to learn to be courageous and to fight for a greater good. We can harness the power of our dark side and use it for creation instead of distraction. If we embrace the desires of our dark side, we can use its drive to lead us to more positive things instead of depravity.
And besides, something tells me that a lot of us positive peeps, hippie dreamers and enlightenment seekers would feel much more complete and happy if we were to integrate those less pretty parts of ourselves as well instead of constantly avoiding them. Food for thought 😉
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