Balancing the Shadow

People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.
— Jim Morrison

I seem to only share my positive side eluding the fact that their is more than just one 'me'. Being home brings it all out. The past 'me', the present 'me', and the future 'me'. Realizing daily how many layers are held below the superficial masks we wear. This image I present, the 'bestME I want you all to see, the only ME I want to be.... Somewhere deep within I have developed a constant need to shame the other, darker sides, of my personality. The more I shun, the darker they grow. So instead, I take a breath, and I learn to accept.

My emotions have been playing ping pong. One day I'm up, the next I'm down. Everything is going as planned and then I ask myself, what am I planning for? When I was there, I was thinking about here, now that I'm here, I'm thinking about going back. Everyday I know it all and the next I'm proven so very wrong. I haven't done enough, always feeling like I'm trying to catch up. This constant dialogue consuming me whole. Engulfed in the stories up in my head. Thinking I should have been more by now, forgetting about all the progress. This experience is an evolution, not a snap your fingers and it's done. Sometimes I'm so hard on myself that I lose sight of the beauty within.

Balance. What is it? Stand on one foot, pat your head and rub your belly.

The Yin and Yang, two sides of the same coin, and the faucets of all living existence. Dark and light. Passive and active. The up's and the down's. Yin represents the shady side of the hill, our mysterious, deeper side. Yang on the other hand is the sunny side of the same exact hill, the dynamic, masculine, obvious side to who we are. Yang is about changing the world while Yin is about accepting the world as it already is.

I sit and ask myself, how often am I ever truly in balance? My life has always been on superdrive. When I was a kid all I wanted was to grow up. In high school, I started college. In college, I wanted a job. I used to work 50-70 hour work weeks, taking 20+ credits per semester. I wanted more. To be more. To make more money. To be MORE SUCCESSFUL. This modern world expects a lot from us, ultimately conditioning us to expect a lot from ourselves. In a very Yang way, we are always active. Always pushing for more. Always busy filling our schedules leaving little to no time to figure out how we are feeling. Lost in the thoughts instead of the emotions. No wonder why there is so much confusion to 'am I doing it right'? How could we ever be content when what we have never seems to be enough.

I moved to Australia when I was 19 and my life was forever changed, but old habits die hard. The last 4 years have been spent bouncing around different countries, states, and counties. Each morning choosing whatever life I want to live for the day. It's been fun and undoubtedly transformative, but how much has actually changed since the days of reaching for the stars of success? I still find myself packing my schedule full, racing for the next adventure, consumed in the idea of what the future might hold. Moving home has allowed me to see how close this conditioning still sits...

It's in this slowing down that I find the darker side to the superficial extrovert I present to the outside world. I finally cleared my schedule for a bit of Yin time, time to go deep within. For so long I have hid the emptiness my heart sometimes feels.... But what you resist will continually persist. So, instead I try to tear down the walls and welcome a willingness to feel, to be with, to understand what the shadow side has to tell me. Our culture glorifies happiness and shames any emotion that does not match it... What kind of balance is that? Shade can not exist without light and light can only be light when contrasted with darkness.

I, as do many others, constrict an array of psychological wounds. Wounds that we are either not aware of or attempt to completely avoid or manage all together. This prevents us from ever feeling deeply at ease inside. Our sadness, we don't want to feel it. Our anger, we don't want to admit. The discontent we feel and the shame that comes with such ungratefulness.... But instead, why don't we just accept it. For what it is, how it is, and what it has to tell us. Carl Jung put it perfectly "one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." What he was trying to get through my thick head is that it doesn't always have to be perfect, instead it's finding the beauty in imperfection. Opening up, instead of closing out, all the emotions. Realizing that in order for our light to shine bright we must also accept and welcome the darkness that contrasts such beauty.

Yin and Yang are the Way of the Universe. Live in harmony with the Way and you will benefit, struggle against and you will indeed suffer. Because no matter what, if you go up, you must come down. It is as natural as the breath we breathe, the sun we see, and the life we lead. Yin and Yang is a balancing game. Things aren't always going to make sense, but be assured, soon enough they will. I continually have to remind myself that even when the sky is full of darkness, the little bit of moon can light the way. And when you least expect it you will find a glimmer of awareness. Our imperfections, sadness, loneliness, doubt, fear, self-pity, negative self-talk, insecurities... These emotions are what make us whole. Without them we would be boring cogs in the massive machine. To become whole we must understand our wholeness. We must welcome the pain and the sorrow and in doing so create a new tomorrow. Because without darkness there is no light. So today, be okay with who you are.. Every piece of you. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly. In all the chaos find a simple stillness. The more you understand what lies within, the better you can connect with all that is out there. We can not change anything until we accept it.  Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. (Carl Jung)


The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
— Carl Jung