When it comes to personal growth, owning our darkness is the motherlode. Owning your darkness means you’re willing to explore and accept that the world “out there” is a reflection of the world “in here.” Hatred, judgement, contempt, disgust and rejection can’t work as strategies for creating a better life, more peace, more success, or more well-being in your relationships or in the world. Rigidly rejecting, hating and judging others indicates there’s something within you that needs you to risk greater honesty.
When we chronically judge, it’s our own darkness turned inside out. There’s some aspect of ourselves awaiting integration. We’re not facing something–usually a hard truth about who we are. It’s much easier to project our self-judgement onto another person or group of people than to see it for what it is. This is why feeding judgment or contempt is an irresponsible tactic when it comes to creating change in our relationships, or in the world outside of us. It keeps us in the dark about our own darkness.
There are incredible benefits to owning your darkness. You suffer less, because being you doesn’t hurt as much. There are fewer parts of you that your unconscious has to funnel energy into hiding, burying, or disguising. You have enough love within you to tolerate and maybe even accept what you view as “unlovable” parts of yourself. They’re here. Denying what’s here never works. Your acceptance is part of what allows you to change.
When you acknowledge and admit to moments of hatred, jealousy, ignorance, shame and inadequacy, failure, judgment, prejudice, selfishness, arrogance, a sense of entitlement, meanness, self-importance, and superficiality–whatever it is that you find intolerable when you gaze out through your eyes at others in the world–you’re dissolving something that separates you from the world you see. Darkness is no longer “out there.”
You can stop and notice it, wonder about it, question it and challenge it. You can become a little humbler as you see it and feel it. You can become a little more authentic, a little more vulnerable about the pain that exists in the human mind and heart, about your own human experience. This can change the way you relate to yourself and others. You don’t have to be better, superior, or untouchable to protect yourself from darkness.
Here are 7 ways to own your darkness:
- Make a list of the qualities, traits or behaviors you can’t stand in people. Then think of ways, past and present, you’ve exhibited these qualities, traits or behaviors.
- Close your eyes and visualize, one at a time, the people in your life who have hurt you (or who you’ve hurt.) In your mind’s eye, say to them, “I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, thank you.” Pause and notice what arises after each statement.
- When you feel difficult emotions, instead of trying to make them smaller, find a safe, controlled, private space where you can expand and be aware of these feelings as you feel them. Draw them out, let them shake your body, speak the words that arise out of them. Approve of yourself for feeling deeply and truly.
- When you find yourself judging, criticizing, or accusing someone of something, take a moment to identify how you could be more honest about this situation, eg. “I’m trying to control you and because I can’t, I’m accusing you of doing something wrong.”
- Remember that when you point a finger in blame, at least 3 fingers on your hand point back at you. How did you help create what’s happening?
- Notice when someone hurts your feelings because they’re offering you a version of yourself you don’t like. Take a moment to see if one reason your’e hurt is because their version of you may be partly true. Can you acknowledge this and allow your identity to become flexible enough to include this, while still approving of yourself?
- The next time you’re defending yourself, or rationalizing a behavior, or trying to convince yourself or someone else of something, try saying, “You know, I think I’m defending myself, rationalizing my behavior, or trying to convince you of something, because I’m afraid of _________.”
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