Accepting your Shadow-Self

I often wonder when we are going to truly acknowledge the fact that all humans have the capacity for rage, and evil and darkness and become comfortable with that idea. Opening a discussion about this instead of being ashamed of our negative urges and emotions, might actually lead to curbing negative reactions and behaviours. What is the point in pretending to be perfect and saintly? The very nature of being human is to be imperfect. We have the free will to behave as we please. The choices we make and the fact that this capacity for darkness  exists and can be overcome, is what makes us better people. We are not bad people merely for having the capacity to do bad things, it is how we choose to act and react that matters. Acknowledging our dark sides, or shadow selves, does not encourage or enable negative behaviours or actions, it just makes us more aware and cautious of those tendencies.

I think learning to accept the split aspects of our personalities, light and dark only makes us better people in the long run. Hiding the dark side won’t make it go away. We are all good and bad. Everyone has the capacity for good and bad. Those traits can overlap. And yet we still have this awful herd mentality of jumping to condemn anyone who does or says anything out of line.  I am not excusing awful behaviour, I personally am very judgemental of it (internally and externally), which is a really bad trait of mine. It means that I expect far too much of myself and others and feel considerable shame over all my wrong-doings, which are of course, many. But I wish we wouldn’t hide our bad traits so much and manipulate people to only see the good.  It is so problematic and encourages all kinds of deceit. Learning to accept the fact that I have an extreme element of harshness and not being afraid to show it when necessary, is probably the best thing I’ve started to do. Owning your capacity for evil and being upfront about the fact that you won’t tolerate certain things, means anger is less likely to fester and manifest in toxic ways. I like the idea of people knowing that I’m nice  only out of choice , but am capable of putting people in their place if they seriously cross me or compromise my morals. But that I choose not to, most of the time. Just because I have the capacity for rage and aggression doesn’t mean I should use it. I’m not saying I’ve never lashed out someone, and won’t again in the future.

I’m also not saying I’m not completely ashamed of it or that it’s ok. It’s just a point of that we get to choose our behaviour and it’s not necessarily to do with our dispositions. People who seem harmless shouldn’t be taken for granted that they will never get angry, and people who communicate aggressively also have the capacity to be calmer, and the responsibility to do so. Forcing yourself to always do the right thing or good thing is exhausting and near impossible, so don’t expect it of yourself, or others. Know that it takes considerable self-control and thought and it isn’t always possible, and shouldn’t be taken for granted when it is. We all have that friend who we think can’t ever get mad or say no, but believing that is reductive and means that you are not letting them feel entitled to be angry or upset or imperfect. No-one is all good, all the time. Nobody has exclusively positive traits and emotions. And most traits/emotions are not exclusively good or bad. But that doesn’t mean we’re not still good people. It’s ok to admit your darker qualities to yourself and to others. We all have natural tendencies and traits, but also have to make conscious choices. The important thing is that when we do slip up, or lash out, that we can admit to it, and attempt to make amends or redeem ourselves, if we feel it is necessary. We all make mistakes, we all feel regret, and nobody can say that they have approached every situation with complete serenity and openness of mind. Our perspectives are often limited. And our emotions can be overwhelming and cause us to lose sight of reality. Paranoia, anger, fear, sadness,jealousy, pride, etc. We have all felt some variation of these emotions and they have perhaps caused us to react defensively or aggressively based on what we perceive to be the truth.

Negative emotions exist for a reason and can actually be productive, rather than destructive. If we can recognise anger, and discuss it in a calm way without becoming overwhelmed by the emotion itself, we can often save ourselves further emotional/personal casualties. On the other hand, it is ok to get swept away by waves of emotions and express them and allow them to be seen. It all depends on the severity of the reaction and whether it presents a danger to the physical/emotional wellbeing of yourself or others.

Trying to recognise paranoia can be a very difficult one to pinpoint. I know that personally many of my negative/angry or defensive reactions have been provoked by my own paranoia of how I imagine others to perceive me, based on my own insecurities rather than actual truth. Finding out whether or not these events are fictitious, before proceeding to react in a dramatic fashion, can be helpful. If at all possible. Recognising that I do have a tendency to be paranoid and that this can result in distrust and anger has helped me to care less about what others think. It seems ironic, but it has helped me realise that these feelings are a reflection of my own fears and insecurities and that the problem is more internal than external, regardless of what others actually do think. Learning to take care of  my mind through meditation and positive affirmations has meant that I am less inclined to be affected by others and find it easier to let go of things. It is a constant battle that I have not completely mastered, and am still affected by, but knowing that this problem exists means that I pick up on it more.

Being primarily motivated by getting to (my version of) the truth of the matter, also means that I can come off as harsh and blunt if I don’t choose my  very words  very carefully and empathetically. Others would see this as a dark trait, but I personally do not. Though it causes offense to people, which is a shame, it is also an important part of me and a key motivating factor. This is something I rarely apologise for, even when I probably should.(!!) There can always be positives in negative traits.

I hope this in some way makes sense to someone or can be helpful. As someone who spent many years torturing myself over all my flaws, I understand the immense pressure we can put on ourselves to try to be “good” people.

Soul

A while back, probably over a year ago, I wrote a poem called ‘Soul’ which laments simpler times before the use of social media really blew up.

This is the link to the video if anyone is interested https://youtu.be/2XtB7llDQtg

As with all poems, you may interpret however you wish. I see it as a reflection on what modern western culture has become and how social media has changed how we view ourselves and others. I know that since my departure from the bulk of social media I have felt isolated in some ways. And almost as if people are only equal to their likes or their online presence. Most people I know, thankfully don’t think like this, but some do, and I find that scary. I don’t miss the attention, (not that I was drowning in it or anything. Not even a little bit. I’m just easily overwhelmed and need breaks from this whole constant connectivity thing), but I do sometimes miss the sense of connection and being able to access people, or use social platforms in a positive way. It’s hard to try to spread a message , and be invisible at the same time, or distance myself from the things that don’t fit me. But I guess this is my way of trying to do that, in a way that allows me space and lets me absorb the positivity around me and all the beautiful things the world has to offer. Anyways, click the link if you wish.

 

Try stay true to yourself and speak the truth whenever you can. Fuck image and reputation and whatever bullshit the kids are pushing as trends these days. All my love. Sparkle sparkle ✨✨✨

Ps. I’m sorry that this piece is quite bland. I’m not one of those amazing spoken-word or slam-poetry artists. That whole “I am tiger, hear me roar” thing is cool, but it’s just not me. I’m not the best at emoting, but I hope the message still gets across. I’m rather emotionally flaccid. Yes, not placid, FLACCID. The emotional equivalent of a limp sexual organ. Limp and lifeless. Well, hopefully not lifeless, but maybe a bit limp compared to what you might be used to. Or soothing and gentle if you’re an optimist XX

 

A Perfect Illusion

Correct me if I’m wrong, but almost everyone seems to suffer from some form of anxiety or stress these days. In fact there seems to be an epidemic of mental illness and suffering.

Why is this? Yes there’s the usual stresses; economic stress, overworking, unemployment, personal or family tragedies. These are not new issues. But theres something different now. There have been a few extra things added to the mix. Social anxiety isn’t just affected by your personal interactions. It can also be dictated by your online interactions. The strive for perfection has been upgraded. The standards have become higher and more unrealistic.  It is a thousand times harder to disconnect and live in the moment. Everything you need is on your phone. Stop using your phone for a few days, and somebody will probably file a missing persons report. Deactivating your social media will be seen as a serious sign of distress, and often is. The masters is the new bachelors degree. Want to work a menial job? Hope you have three years experience and a completely irrelevant PHD.

Everyone looks so polished and perfect. Social status is a legitimate character reference. Want to work for us? You must have x amount of followers on Facebook. MADNESS. Your ability to influence people or carry out work effectively is judged by how active and popular you are on social media. Surely everyone knows that ones image on social media is entirely controlled and carefully constructed in an unrealistic way, simply to garner positive attention? Have you ever sat beside someone as they compose a Facebook status, wracked with anxiety and desperation?  Have you ever been on a night out in your local, and everywhere you look there are people taking millions of selfies in a desperate bid to look like they are having fun, instead of actually having fun?

Is anything sacred anymore? Wouldn’t it be nice to run into someone you hadn’t seen in a while and actually be surprised by their new haircut or job or pregnancy? Because the “obligatory” pictures or status hadn’t been posted to inform everyone of this news?

I may sound old and bitter, but I am in fact 24, which puts me bang in the middle of the current young adult generation, who are mainly responsible for all of this. And I was a part of it for a good while. Until I became more and more disheartened with what the world was turning into.

Is there such thing as empathy anymore? People don’t seem to reach out as much. You can have 700 friends on social media and yet feel incredibly alone. Most of what you will see is other people showing off their own lives. Where is the connectivity that we claim is such a vital part of social media? Mark Zuckerberg claims that every country has the right to connectivity, and he is right, but I sincerely doubt that his intentions were entirely humanitarian.

Snapchat started off as a fun way of communicating, but I’m sure we all have had those people in our feeds who like to document their entire day, mundanities and all, for the world to see, in the style of a pseudo celebrity. I’m not trying to offend individuals. I’m simply trying to open peoples eyes to the fact that technology and social media have completely taken over our lives.

How many times have you been at a concert only to look around and see everyones phones in the air, filming? They are not in the moment, watching the concert with their eyes. They are watching it through the lenses of their phones, making sure that everyone at home knows exactly how much fun they are having. These days, “the fear of missing out”, affectionately referred to as “FOMO”, can actually be considered a real source of stress and sadness. You are not seeing an honest view of others lives. It is like a “best bits” montage.

However, anyone who has a twitter, or indeed a Facebook will know that people will openly talk about their mental issues as long as they can do it in a way that is amusing and witty. Or allows them to put down others, while still appearing to be a victim.

I think its brilliant that people have more of an understanding or their own mental health, and are more honest about the issues they face, but I can’t help get this sinking feeling that this is being used and abused as an excuse for all kinds of negative behaviour. If you have a message to spread and wish to inspire or uplift others, using your own personal experience, go ahead, but this doesn’t seem to be the case a lot of the time. Many people seem to use their anxiety as a crutch, or to lash out at others or compose long-winded essays which portray them as a victim but condemn others. This can be the case with many social media “activists”. Surely attacking others and pointing the finger is not an effective way to get your point across? If you really do strive for understanding, you must have empathy and a well-rounded perspective, and be willing to understand both sides and attempt to bridge the gap, instead of further instigating the divide. But that’s just my opinion. The problem is that everyone has the public platform to say and do as they please. You don’t have to earn it. Online, we can all be Gandhi.

When your message becomes more about how others see you, and boosting your personal image, it is time to step away from the cause. Trust me. That may sound harsh, but those who crave attention the most, are often those who can’t handle the criticism that you will inevitably open yourself up to. This is why it is important to do these things with a real passion in your heart. The human ego is a fragile thing.

There are anonymous sites in which people you know can ask you questions. Some people naively think people will use the site to reveal their secret crush. And I’m sure they often do. But what about the risk of bullying? Why is it that those who seek public approval and validation the most, are the ones who are the most vulnerable to criticism? I am deeply worried for a lot of people, because of this. Why let others define you?? They don’t know the real you.

We can worry about people or wonder how they are, but how many of us actually take a chance and reach out? We let our own anxiety and fear of what others will think, get in the way of what is really important. Trust your gut and hold onto your integrity. You owe it to yourself.

I’m scared. Terrified. I don’t want to lose people I love to this crazy world we live in. Life is hard enough! All these beautiful, beautiful souls stuck in this invisible prison.

I hope that anyone who is reading this and feels affected, knows that this comes from a place of love and understanding. My aim is not to make anyone feel about bad themselves, but to realise that you are special, no matter how high you rank on the social ladder, or how insignificant you feel. It’s funny how easy it would be for me to make it appear as though my life is perfect. Meanwhile I sit at home, agonising over jobs, over not being skilled enough and feeling as though everything is going wrong. The more society progresses, the more we can feel left behind. It’s hard to keep up.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever kind of day you’re having, I hope you can take some time out of your day to be in the moment, to go for a nice walk and look around you. Or to spend time with a loved one. We often think we don’t have time to do this. But the secret is, we can make the time, and it will make all the difference to your day. Sometimes we need to just take a step back and breathe and re-evaluate our purpose. And I’m not talking this big life purpose. Just being. I often suffer from dissociation and existential crisis and I find reconnecting to the universe is the best way to lift me out of this.

I’m sending you all love. As terribly cliche and cheesy as this sounds, the more you learn to love yourself, the less you will care what others think. I used to roll my eyes at affirmations and when people told me to look inward or spend time with nature, but it worked for me. Stop fighting for affection and love and acceptance, and find it within yourself. You deserve it and you are worthy.