We have all had times in our lives when something distressing or worrying or frightening or depressing has happened to us. We have been part of something really awful, done something of which we are ashamed, failed to live up to our own or others’ expectations of us, met someone who in some way we have allowed to bring the worst out in us, gone down a path with them that we knew in our gut was wrong.
This moment of appealing to our ‘lower’ selves can sometimes be minor (eating junk food when we know what it does to us; getting caught up in playing hours of online games when we know talking to friends or family, or reading a book, serves us far better; drinking too much).
And sometimes this moment of appealing to our ‘lower selves’ can be major (cheating, lying, stealing, destroying, hurting – in the most fundamental and terrible of ways – the lives of others around us). Sometimes we can feel it is major (when in the eyes of others, or of the law, it isn’t) and we deeply regret what we’ve done – lost our temper with someone we love greatly and said incredibly hurtful things, even threatened a boss (while part of our brain was trying desperately to get us to behave), or given up on ourselves or others without putting in the effort we could have.
Whether major or minor, these failures – those moments where we lived from our lower selves – become stories of the dark side of who we are. Notwithstanding people who really can’t pull themselves out from the dark side on their own (and so may rightly work with an experienced psychologist), the rest of us manage the dark side as part of normal life. Sure, some people experience it more than others, and some people seem to be happier than others. But, overall, the dark side is part of each of us and we would never understand happiness and optimism, if we didn’t also have an understanding of sadness, a sense of anguish, anxiety or even hopelessness.
We often learn most about ourselves and what we are capable of when things are at their worst.
Life is not always good, grand and positive. Sometimes it is way-off-centre, irritating, frustrating, intimidating, confusing, upsetting, discouraging and alienating. Would-be revolutionaries would do well to steer clear of indulgent enthusiasm at the expense of seeing things for what they are. This is not an act of pessimism; it is an act of wisdom. When we can name things – see them for what they are – we can also solve them.
Using the power of the dark side is an excerpt taken from One World AtLast (pp.100 – 102)
Image courtesy of Gualberto107 / www.freedigitalphotos.net