“Many times we are our worst enemy. If we could learn to conquer ourselves, then we will have a much easier time overcoming the obstacles that are in front of us.”
― Stephan Labossiere
It’s easy to find external enemies. It seems like there are those who will say or do things that rub us the wrong way. Perhaps they are bigots who are trying to keep us, our friends, or people who belong to whatever minority we do down. This tends to play out on both personal and world levels. Maybe we have a rival in either business or love or a boss, supervisor or teacher who we feel is making our lives needlessly difficult. The list of people who we may have negative reactions to is long and while we busy ourselves with them we overlook the real enemy, ourselves.
If I could conquer the things in myself that block me from achieving my goals than anyone or anything else would be easy.If I could overcome my distractibility then I would no longer get distracted by others. If I quit smoking I would be healthier. If I achieved more of my goals than I would be too busy to worry about what others were doing. It’s so easy to externalize our problems and get angry rather than facing the enemy in the mirror.
“Everyone should have their mind blown once a day.”
— Neil deGrasse Tyson
Would we fear the other as much if we did not fear that we were the other? If we knew beyond doubt that we were different in ways that could be perceived both positively and negatively would we still find it so easy to reject people wholesale? Could we learn to embrace the very things that set each of us apart, our uniqueness and value that same uniqueness in others without seeing it as a qualitative choice? Why fear the mirror when it craves acceptance? If we’re all walking each other home why do we get so lost along the way? We all want to make a difference yet so many of us fear what difference is? Why do we need the acceptance of others to allow us to accept ourselves? What ripples can we set off by accepting the differences in others whether it be social differences, sexual differences, political difference, or Mental and Physical differences? Could we set off a ripple that could change the world or at the very least learn what true acceptance of our self and our shadow is all about?
“There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.”
I didn’t know who she was but she released the animal inside of me. Not in the way that you might think tho my memories are hazy. Since I’ve met her tho every single dark thought I have expresses itself. I have discovered a wildness in me and have become almost feral. I can reign in my actions but the desires are there. Never have I felt so out of control. Never have I felt so free. I have greater knowledge of myself than ever before. At times I am almost grateful for this. Few people have had this upfront a view of the beast that they contain. I accept this wild man this beast so that one day I can transcend it or so I hope. Until then I tread on a narrow edge. The jury is still out on which way I’ll fall off.
— Part of a note found in an alley
“the abyss you stare into and that stares back at you is your reflection in the mirror – we all have it – that shadow self – that dark heart…”
― John Geddes
Do I accept my shadow or do I fear it? Do I turn away from the dark thoughts, the anger, the weirdness or do I watch it flow through. I know what happens when I try to repress these feelings, deny them in myself. There is only so long you can hold the lid down on something before it expresses itself in undesired ways, better to express or at least acknowledge the existence of anger or sorrow or lust or any of the things that make me uneasy. It’s amazing how fast they dissipate once I admit they are there.
How do you handle your shadow self?
“To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.”
— Carl Jung
As many of you who read this blog may know I’ve been working on a set of tarot pictures that will eventually consist of all 78 cards of a standard tarot deck. I’ve completed a little over a third of the deck. I started making art in order to be able to do these so its a project close to my heart. On the days I feel like starting a new card, I shuffle the deck and ask what would be the best card for me to work on and shuffle and draw until I get to one I haven’t done yet. Today Trump 15-The Devil came up.
So tonight I’m taking a bit of a detour from The Hero archetype and talking about leaps of faith. Hmmm, or am I? The Devil by its very nature represents our shadow selves, some of the very qualities that try to hold us back from taking that leap. It could represent insecurities and fears that we may not be good enough. It may represent hopelessness that the system is rigged and there’s no way that it will do any good. All those lies and rationales we use for not taking that chance to be a hero. In the picture, both figures are only chained by very flimsy strings that they can break at any time. It is not the externals keeping them chained. It rarely is. We are not only the prisoners but our own jailers as well.
How do we break free? How do we reclaim ourselves. The simple yet oh so difficult answer is self-honesty and courage. I believe that each of these grows out of the other one. We need to first admit that our shadow self is there and that its real. What about yourself would you sweep under the rug rather than admit? For me lack of confidence and laziness tend to be the main ones along with too much reliance on my left-hemisphere logical self and too little trust in my ability to feel. Other things too no-doubt, those shadow selves be sneaky buggers.
Once exposed at looked at and shared the shadow can be dealt with. It is only when we hide it or fight it that our chains become stronger. The more we disassociate from our shadow self, the stronger it becomes. The more we accept it and integrate it the more whole we become. Accepting our shadow? That requires quite the leap of faith. Hmm maybe this subject isn’t as far a detour from the Hero as I thought.
Much Love, G