Some of these blogs I write are about my personal experiences. Some I write about what I interpret as the collective consciousness or collective “unconsciousness”. And sometimes I’m flat out talking about YOU. You, the reader, you, the one who may be in denial or think it’s always someone else.
After years and years and working with literally thousands of people I feel I can talk about people in general. If that doesn’t work for you or that bothers you, you’re welcome to get your content elsewhere in a way that fits your needs. You might also be wrapped up in things being conveyed in such a way because you simply don’t want utilize these ideas to look at yourself and dig. Dig down through the muck and find the gold in there. Often the gold is past the putrid, nasty, horrific shit and we have to face it. So face it.
One of the things that’s certain about life and being human is that there’s darkness to it. There will be times and experiences that are painful, traumatic, and sad. What happens in our minds around these experiences is an important thing to consider.
Humans are generally wired to avoid pain and discomfort. But avoiding unpleasant situations and emotions as a general rule will increase problems like anxiety, controlling behavior, depression, rigidity, and general distress. Raise your hand if you avoid confrontation.
Facing uncomfortable situations and emotions is a skill that’s developed over time. I’ve talked about this recently in other blog posts like the one on “capacity”. And facing the uncomfortable parts of yourself will actually reduce the amount of anxiety, addictive behaviors and psychological distress you experience.
If you have a habit of avoiding the side of the spectrum that’s dark and negative you actually aren’t fully expressing yourself and become inauthentic. You aren’t fully living or healing the parts of yourself to feel the greatest levels of joy you can.
“Each time we practice being with our difficult emotions, we grow inner resources, learn to trust in our capacity to handle our experiences, develop resilience for moving through life’s challenges, and find ways to pursue what truly matters. Each of us has the power to face what is hard, if we only open the door.” –Beth Kurland, Ph.D.
So how do you embrace your shadow or negative side?
You do it by facing and confronting the negative thoughts and emotions you harbor. You sit with them, get to know them, and see what messages or information are attached to them.
You do it by remaining curious to what’s happening rather that compartmentalizing things and filing them away. Oftentimes what we think about a situation is shaded by preconceived notions and judgments. The cloud that comes with that restricts us from fully experiencing the challenge.
You do it by not judging yourself for feeling negative or challenging things. Feeling grief is hard enough don’t judge yourself as being wrong for grieving too. Develop your ability it to separate out the feelings and the judgments you have about yourself for feeling what you do.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Through mediation or just sitting quietly with yourself ask yourself this question; what’s painful or uncomfortable in your life that you don’t want to face? (Grief, sadness, failure, guilt, loneliness, etc.)
Imagine just barely opening the lid on the container that’s containing the pain or discomfort so that when the fear, sadness, or other challenging emotion shows up it’s at a manageable level.
Examine it with curiosity and look to see what information is in there that you’ve been missing because you’ve already categorized it through previous experiences or imprinting at an age of previous interations of yourself.
Release the judgements you have about yourself and the situation so you can lean in a little closer to it to process and release the intensity of the experience.