The Other Side

The Other Side

How well do you know your other side?

One of my goals for The Positivity Solution is to do things a little differently around here.

My dream is to use The Positivity Solution to truly make the world a more positive place, and I know that it won’t happen by simply sharing motivational quotes on my Twitter and Facebook accounts all day long.

I love a good quote as much as the next guy, but chances are that you also know how much I love digging into the deep and challenging stuff as much as humanly possible too.

And on that note, what I’m going to ask you to do in this blog post may be the most challenging and the most uncomfortable thing that I’ve ever asked you to do here.

Simply put, we’re going to get to know ourselves a little better.

A lot better, actually.

It’s time for us to go to “the other side,” and fair warning, it might not be too much fun.

No worries though–ready or not, we’re still going there anyway.

The Shadow Self

You might already know this, but I am absolutely fascinated by human behavior.

Even more than that, I am absolutely obsessed with discovering the mental barriers that stop us from living our best lives while we’re here on earth.

One of the key barriers that I have not talked about at all until now (and quite possibly, the most important), is something that’s called our Shadow Self.

The concept of the Shadow Self was first described by the psychologist Carl Jung, and it’s the part of ourselves that we have spent our entire lives trying to hide, repress, or deny because it makes us feel ashamed, uncomfortable, or afraid.

Or put in other words, the Shadow Self is the part of us that we don’t want the world to see.

Okay, so what does information mean for us?

Potentially, a lot.

First, it is important to be aware that everyone reading these words has a Shadow Self. I have one, you have one, and every person who you have ever known has one.

Having a Shadow Self is completely unavoidable.

Some people refer to it as their “Dark Side,” but that places too much of a negative spin on it. For all intents and purposes, I’ll be referring to it as our other side.

The problem is that most of us have lived most of our lives without any interest in understanding our other side. Even worse, many of us have made it a full-time practice to avoid our other side on a daily basis.

If you’re interested in living your best life (and I know that you are), I can promise you that ignoring your other side is the quickest way NOT to make that happen.

Don’t take my word for it though. Dr. Jung said it far better than I ever could:

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

Seriously, let that quote wash over your brain for a minute.

Starting today, it’s time for us to become more conscious of our shadow, aka, our other side. Choosing not to do so could cause our shadows to completely take over our lives.

Believe me, that would be the biggest mistake we could ever make.

Own It, Or Be Owned: A Story About Needing Acceptance

Speaking of mistakes, I really want people reading this blog to learn from my endless list of screw-ups that I’ve built up over the past 40 years.

One of the biggest mistakes in my life to date has been ignoring the existence of my other side.

I now know without any doubt that if you fail to own your other side, it will own you.

Allow me to give you a personal example from a couple of years ago.

For the people reading this who know me personally, you already know that I’m the type of guy who says “hi” to everyone.  I’ve always believed that it’s the friendly thing to do, and since I love connecting with people, saying hi to strangers is something that comes naturally to me.

Unfortunately, the ugliness of my shadow came out in full force when I used to live in the same condo complex with a guy who refused to speak to me for some reason.

Every time I saw him I said, “good morning,” “hey, how’s it goin’?”, and simply “hi”, and every time, this dude would look at me like I sprouted a third eyeball in the center of my forehead as he completely ignored me.

I noticed that each time that he ignored me, I got more and more pissed off.

I remember muttering to myself as I sulked past him in anger, “Seriously, how hard it is for you to say ‘hi’? What in the hell is your problem?!”

This guy was a total asshole, as far as I was concerned. I was even so upset that I vented about it to a trusted friend, and she said something that hit me like a ton of bricks:

“It’s not about you.”  

She was 100% right. He doesn’t have to say “hi” to me if he doesn’t want to. Why was I making this situation all about me?

My friend’s comment helped me to become more aware of one of the uglier parts of my other side. It’s the side that I used to ignore and push down for most of my adult life.

My other side desperately seeks the approval of others.

Most people can say “hi” to someone, and if they are ignored, it’s completely no big deal and they move on.

Me?

It used to drive me crazy. Now I know why.

When my neighbor ignored me, it was deeper than just being ignored. To me, it meant that he was withholding the approval I needed to be happy.

Looking back on my life, I noticed a very disturbing trend in my life when I wasn’t aware of this “other side” of myself:

I would engage in some very unhealthy activities in my insatiable need for approval.

For example:

I would date women who treated me like complete crap because I desperately needed their approval.

I would spend money that I didn’t have, to buy stuff that I didn’t need, in order to gain the approval of people who I didn’t even know.

I would hide certain parts of myself at work (specifically, my friendliness and the fact that I smile “too often”) in order to get the approval of the senior executive team.

In other words, the lack of a conscious awareness of my shadow, or other self, caused it to become “blacker and denser” until it was affecting every area of my life negatively.

Thankfully, things started to quickly improve as soon as I woke up and became aware of what was really going on in my brain.

Becoming Aware

I hate to tell you this, but there’s no amount of positive thinking, meditation, or (ahem) Positivity Solution blog posts that will make your “other self” disappear.

It just ain’t going to happen. Your shadow, or your other self, is a part of you.

That’s 100% okay. The good news is that having a shadow is completely normal.

However–ignoring, suppressing, or denying your other self will cause you more unnecessary grief than you can imagine.

It is only when we face and own these aspects of ourselves that we’ll be free to change and make more productive choices.

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to understand my other self, and I feel like I know him much better now. Here is just a small sample of what this dude is all about:

My other self can be incredibly insecure at times and is consistently searching for other people’s approval.

My other self would much rather eat sugary and greasy crap than eat something that would be much healthier.

My other self would rather buy useless stuff that he would never use instead of being more disciplined about saving money.

(Shola’s note: believe me, I could keep going, but I’ll stop here for now.)

It is important for me to share this stuff with you so that you know that I’m right there next to you in the trenches, working hard to be a more positive person everyday.

Things are very different now, and even though my other self hasn’t disappeared (and never will), there has been one very significant change.

My awareness of my other self has put me back in control of my life, while officially taking the control away from him at the same time.

I know that my other self will urge me to swing by the Burger King Drive-thru for a large Original Chicken sandwich value meal instead choosing something healthier whenever I’m hungry.

I know that my other self will try to dilute aspects of who I truly am in order to please others.

I know that my other self will tell me to skip writing the next chapter in my book and take a nap.

These days, instead of ignoring or fighting against my other self, I fully accept that this guy will be a part of my life as long as I’m alive.

The good news is that my awareness and acceptance of my other self gives me my power back.

And because I am fully awake and aware, I can make a better choice.

So far, so good.

The Friend In The Shadows

Contrary to popular belief, our other selves aren’t the enemy. Our other selves are our friends.

My other self has helped me to uncover my weak spots and has allowed me to sharpen my skills in ways that I could never imagine.

It is no exaggeration to say that my other self has given me the opportunity to become the best possible version of myself.

Knowing that there’s a part of me that craves acceptance, keeps me on my toes when I’m drifting toward unhealthy habits in search of that acceptance.

And as I said earlier, it all starts with awareness.

I’m not sure if there’s a more useful and worthwhile thing that we can do than truly understand and become aware of our shadows.

If we’re always dating the same losers, sabotaging our diets, losing our temper, or consistently people-pleasing at the detriment of our happiness (my hand is raised on that last one), it is only our awareness that can start the process of dealing with the issue.

That’s because our awareness gives us the freedom to make better, healthier, and more productive choices.

Sure, I know that getting to know our private, deeply-repressed, and sometimes-ugly side of ourselves isn’t a lot of fun, but do you know what’s worse?

Allowing that private, deeply-repressed, and sometimes-ugly side of ourselves to control us by ignoring its existence.

That can no longer be an option.

Our other selves, just like all shadows, lose their power when you shine the light on them.

And I have some very good news for you:

You’re the light.

It’s time to start shining.

Your Turn

Are you aware of your “other side” or shadow self? How has its presence affected your life? Time to get personal, people! As always, don’t hesitate to jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. Kristen Quinn says:

    YEA! I get to be the first one to comment this week :0)… anyways, this blog post was different reading it, than I expected! I was thinking of my ‘shadow self’ as that person inside of me that hides how I ‘really feel’ about other people and their actions with life.. being judgmental per-say.. (which honestly, I sometimes have to keep myself in ‘check’ to behave with such thoughts)! Hmm.. facing the shadow part of me? Well, yes, I MAJORLY seek the approval of others, acceptance from those around me not willing to accept me as I am. However, I used to bend, twist and turn to meet others wishes, not my own. Recently, since I did become healthy for ME and started taking care to eat correctly, combating my food addiction, for ME.. it has led to losing a lot of friends and being terribly bullied by the coworkers, hence seeking this blog/website in the first place. You know already, Shola, it has been life changing, in the most wonderful aspects of learning from you! Anyways, I was bullied horribly growing up from peers in school. I am a very tall gal and I was made fun of for towering over the other kids. They figured out this got to me and the whole group of other students teased me right through high school graduation! So, with that being said, I never really got over it and became a ‘people pleaser’ just to be accepted. Over this past year, I learned not to do this, as much. I mean, be nice, kind, considerate..etc; but I have boundaries in place now. I decided to not let such bullying or losing friends, due to my lifestyle change, to stop me this time. I made the decision that having my ‘temple’ cared for to live a long healthy life, was much more important. The other people obviously have issues with my weight loss/healthy changes; feeling as though they cannot do it themselves.. therefore, bullying me or ‘dumping’ me as their friend. This hurts me so very much. My actual ‘shadow self’ has rebelled too. That is where my judgmental side has reared its ugly head. I find myself looking ‘down’ on them now; because they don’t want to, or have the confidence to make the changes too. In retrospect, I catch myself thinking ‘I am better than them’, when in reality.. quite frankly I am NOT! I know this and it is a struggle I have been dealing with for this past year. So, I have to have ‘stern talks’ with that shadow self. I respect that it is a part of me, but a dark part of me that I have to keep an ‘eye’ on, in order to be the kind, loving person I am!

    • Hey Kristen, thanks for sharing! I agree that our shadow selves do need a stern talking to every now and then, and we definitely need to keep a close eye on it to ensure that it never gets a hold of steering wheel of our lives. It’s a constant dance, and I’d be lying to you if I said that I mastered this dance (I haven’t), but each day I feel like I understand my shadow self more than I did yesterday. As a former bullying victim, I could completely relate to your story. I think that’s why I’m inclined to be such a people-pleaser because I don’t want to hurt others as much as I was hurt as a kid. Again, thanks so much for sharing!

      • Kristen Quinn says:

        Thanks Shola! Happy Thanksgiving Holiday to you and everyone here! Yes, even though I understand that all my coworkers, in my department, are so jealous and so hurtful towards me; I still feel hurt by it, to this day, to be honest. They cannot outright bully me anymore, but they still get their digs in.. can list so many examples, would be writing on here forever! But, I pushed and pushed for our policy manual to be changed to stop them. I still feel resent towards them and negative thoughts, a lot of the time. I know this is my ‘shadow’ side screaming outwards to my ‘sweet’ side.. but I also wonder if our ‘shadow’ self’ is kind of our protector in some ways.. I can forgive the fact that they are intimidated by my successes and jealous.. as catty women are; but I hurt badly being bullied for so long in the first place. I think that also causes me to bully others in my head.. I would not it outright to this, by any means, but in my ‘shadow’ self lurks that hurt person, wanting to lash back out as a result of being hurt by others. I was bullied so badly growing up, raped at 18 then entering into an abusive marriage. I honestly believe that those of us, that do not keep that ‘shadow’ self ‘in check are the ones that bring that dark persona to the surface, outwardly hurting others verbally, physically.. etc. I think we all have a ‘darker side’ in us and those of us that keep it in check are the ones that live a more normal life. I am not making excuses by any means for abusers out there.. as verbal bullies are just as bad as physical abusers in my book; but, hurt people, in turn; hurt people.. to one level or another; rather inside our head or out-rightly to the world! I understand this logic.. I accept it as well; however, I still feel anger towards bullies that I have dealt with in my life. I think that is the womanly emotional side of me.. Logically, I can totally let go, emotionally, not so much!

  2. This is a very interesting topic, Shola. I am not sure what would constitute as my ‘other self’ though. Is that the side of me I don’t like? Is it the impulsive, kind of lazy side? Or is it the impatient, sometimes critical side that emerges when I am over-tired? Or is it just any part of me that I may not be proud of?

    I will have to put some thought in to this. I am quite aware of all of those things about myself. But I’m not sure what to do with them at this point!

    Thanks for the brain food, Shola. I will be thinking about this all week!

    Kathy

    • That’s a great question, Kathy. For me, I consider it to be the part of ourselves that we’re not proud of and would rather hide from the world. It’s a tough exercise to determine what are the characteristics that make up our shadow selves, but I really think that it’s a useful exercise that can reap some very real rewards in the short and long run. Thanks for chewing on this brain food, my friend!

  3. My shadow self was basically the same as yours, I was desperate of approval, and recently it blew up in my face, I’ll explain:
    I’ve been close friends with someone for 11 years, to such an extent that I literally put mine, and my 2 girls, lives in danger. Her ex was an evil man who beat her, and her children, I had to help, so she came to live with me, my girls and my husband. This is when he started threatening us all. I went to court with my friend, over and over, it was horrible. Around this time I got sick, very sick. I was told I was going to die. I admit I became very isolated from everyone, including my friend. Anyway fast forward to last year, when I found out my friend was pregnant by her ex husbands best friend, I made sure I txt her everyday to make sure she was okay. Then a few months ago everything blew up in my face. My “friend” of 11 years didn’t need me anymore, she didn’t even get my oldest a birthday card for her 15th, bearing in mind all the time I was sick I never once forgot her boys birthdays, Christmas, or Easter, so I sent her a message saying about her forgetting my daughter’s birthday, she sent a horrible txt, blaming me for everything etc, etc. The worst part is her ex told me she would drop me like a hot potato when she had no use for me. The stupid part is I’ve been blaming myself, and have been feeling so negative over everything since. But I’m coming out of it, as your friend said, it’s nothing to do with me. I’m responsible for my actions (and my children’s lol) not everyone else’s. I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I hope it come back to bite her, but I’m trying hard to stop that thought….so reading this today is exactly what I needed, to dust myself off and move along. It was a hard lesson, but I won’t allow what has happened to fester in my life anymore. As ever thank you Shola, for being the voice of reason I needed

    • Kristen Quinn says:

      Hi Tessa! I just wanted to give you some reflective thought on what you went through, from a woman that endured.. lived through a horrific abusive marriage myself. I have done a lot to educate myself and actually went back to college to pursue my social work/psychology degree in hopes of helping other women that have suffered through as well.. that did not pan out exactly, but I have done some volunteering for other woman, even conducting a support group for women. (that did not work out, because they were not ready for help from a person that ‘tells it like it is’) Anyways, majority.. not all, but majority of women in these relationships are very very co-dependent. I was.. still am to an extent, well with men. I become clingy and desperate when I date and discovered, for now, do better being single. Anyways, through being around women that are from these types of situations, with being a co-dependent, one becomes a ‘user’ towards others in one way or another.. to get what they want. It is, first of all, from knowing no other way, living with an abuser. It kind of puts a sick balance into the relationship. Also it becomes that persons, fight or flight mode for survival. So, DO NOT blame yourself at all. She used you, point blank. I know that hurts, as it has been done to me over and over again.. but that is what it is. It is not your fault at all. She simply saw you as a way of ‘surviving’ what she went through to get to the ‘other side of the fence’ away from her abuser at all costs. Now, becoming pregnant by the best friend? Not sure how to help with that one, but major co dependence comes to mind here. Some women believe that if they get pregnant, this equals a man to stay with them.. equaling security. I thought it would ‘fix’ my husband. I got pregnant, he beat me until I miscarried (as he told me he put it there, and could take it away).. well he did. I left him a few short months later; got safe, never looked back. But, did have many many issues over the past 15 years, I have come to terms with, dealing with and getting strong. That led me to this website too! I recently gave up my food addiction last August.. have become extremely fit, healthy and shed 120 pounds in the process. That did not go over too well with my coworkers and several friends.. I have suffered terrible bullying as a result.. hence finding Shola’s site! Hope this reply helps you understand a little bit better, the inside of an abused woman’s thought process/mentality! Stay positive!

    • Damn Tessa, that is some serious drama! Most importantly, I’m glad to hear that you and your family made it out of that potentially deadly situation without any bodily harm–that’s really scary. As for your friend, I am so thankful that you now fully know what she is all about. Her borderline sociopathic behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you, it’s all on her. Don’t spend a moment blaming yourself for her craziness and her drama-addiction. Just feel blessed that she is no longer a part of your life and focus on the people who are your real friends and loved ones. Believe me, even though I’m not proud of it, every now and then I do have thoughts that the people who hurt me and/or my loved ones end up getting hurt too. These days, I’m able to release those thoughts pretty quickly by reminding myself that Karma has an amazing way of always balancing everything out in the end :). Most importantly, proudly dust yourself off and put her and your relationship with her in the rear view mirror–you deserve so much more than the crumbs she was offering you. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yes! Self reflection has definitely helped me become aware of this “other side”. I embrace it and accept it now and you’re right it’s my friend. Being aware and embracing this “other side” has worked to my benefit, my life has become peaceful and the anxious thoughts have quieted down tremendously. I can give a recent example, the ex-boyfriend (that I have mentioned on here in the past) has been calling, texting me and showing up to events that I attend trying to “interact” with me. I have ignored his texts and his calls and try to avoid him when he “shows” up unexpectedly, although he finds a away to talk me about nonsense at these events. But because my happiness is most important I am able to avoid the negativity and speak up for myself and let him know I’ve put on my big girl panties and moved on and I no longer want to experience things that make me unhappy…I come first. So far so good and listening to my “other side” helped me get to this point :). If I had of continued to ignore my “other side” ( in this instance it was having a Savior mentality) I would probably still be allowing him space in my life and that is…no bueno.

    • Right no, PhillyL! From my personal experience (and I’m generalizing here) many of my female friends have admitted to me that their “other side” struggles with trying to be the “savior” to men who are clearly broken and unable/unwilling to save themselves. It can have such a destructive effect on your sanity and happiness if it is not recognized and kept under control, and I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve done both. Having him around messing with your happiness would be no bueno, indeed. Props to you for doing the right thing, even if it wasn’t easy!

  5. Shola, you seem to have a magical way of presenting topics just when I need them! This last week, I was ” informed” by a friend at work about a comment that someone made about me. She was saying in a snotty way, that I always seem to find time to take a break in our quiet room, no matter what else is going on. It was such an idiotic comment that I laughed about it, but later on, it nagged at me. And it caused me to question why I would care about something so trivial. Why did care what SHE thought? I guess that was my shadow speaking. I have a very stressful job. ( who doesn’t), and I make it my business each day to find even one minute to get in there, take a deep breath and regroup. Our break room was created with this specific goal in mind. And usually that’s all it is, a minute or two. and even then I get interrupted. But I’m organized and if everyone else is doing ok, I try to practice that self care when I can. Many if my coworkers don’t. So why was it bothering me? I guess , to me, comments like that mess with my reputation, make me ” look bad”, even though it’s completely petty. So, my goal for this week, will be to try to rise above that pettiness ( and there’s plenty of it!) and work at not needing those who perpetuate it to rule my happiness. In other words, I don’t need their approval! Thank you Shola. I hope you have a wonderful week as well!

    • That’s right, Maxine! That comment was only meant to upset you and throw you off your game. If you have a stressful job, aren’t you entitled to spend a few minutes in your quiet room to regroup? Like you said, isn’t that what it’s there for? That would be like her saying, “why does she always use the microwave to warm up her lunch?? It’s so weird…” Most importantly, I hope that silly comment doesn’t change how/when you choose to use that room in the future. If it gives you a little peace in your crazy day and it’s not hurting anyone, then it doesn’t matter at all what anyone else thinks. Keep on keeping on, and get that little slice of Zen that you deserve each day!

  6. Colleen Lusk says:

    Hi Shola,

    As always, your writing is spot-on with what I need to hear each week! It is almost like you have a secret decoder ring that can translate my own shadow self into English! My shadow self, like yours, is also a people pleasing, junk food eating, nap taking “other” that unfortunately gets her way more often than I would like!
    I had an “aha” moment when you mentioned the guy in the elevator who wouldn’t say hi to you. It mirrored a recent incident in my own life regarding an old friend who did not return my emails and phone calls. For whatever reason, my friend chose not to respond. I was getting more and more irritated and then downright angry about it. Finally, after a heart to heart talk with my husband, he said to me that my friend made a choice. He also said that my friend had a choice to respond or not. When I realized that it had nothing to do with whether or not I was a “nice” person and that it didn’t make me any less “worthy” I felt 100 times better!

    Thanks again, Shola for hitting the nail on the head! You rock!

    • Thanks Colleen! Don’t let the secret about my “decoder ring” become public, though. I can’t let everyone here know my tricks 😉

      It sounds like we have very similar “other selves!” Your husband was very right about your old friend. For whatever reason, she made a choice to not return your emails and calls. As much as I would struggle with a friendship ending in that way, I would remind myself (like your husband reminded you) that this is not about me or my worthiness at all. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the blog post!

  7. This post hit home hard… My shadow and its insatiable need to be liked had created some major damage to the first half of my life after college, but the past 4 years have been really horrible years…. Here are the high lights : It has prevented me from speaking up for myself in fear that people won’t like me so I tolerated bad treatment on jobs, in friendships, in relationships, and by family, sometimes even by rude strangers… When ppl didn’t like me despite my pleasing, or the rare times I would speak up for myself when I noticed an imbalance in my relationship, my shadow used it as proof to keep me submissive in order not to make “things” worse, I got so uncomfortable saying “no” that my own voice when disagreeing with others was weak and inefficient, dealing with toxic boundary busting rude people became the norm, dating emotionally abusive A-holes over and over and over and degrading myself to obtain for their approval and so-called love of me, becoming so uncomfortable being myself, (whoever that was) that I would find a way to numb the pain with too little or too much food, became increasingly insecure with my looks to the point my value and worth was solely determined by what I look like, how much I weighed, who liked me, how many friends I had, how much money I made, and how much better I was doing than others, Then for an encore My shadow convinced me that the reason I was alone at almost 40 was because I was too picky. So I went back to a manipulative immature ex that I had given multiple chances and conned myself into believing it would be different only to find myself cheated on, lied too, and separated in less than 6 months of marriage.

    Magically somewhere in this mess the real me stood up and spoke out and the lights finally went on…. I moved out, went no contact, filed for a divorce, slowly ended multiple soul sucking friendships that were clearly only contingent on me being a doormat or cosigning their bs, started saying no at work and speaking up against game players and toxic co-workers, I spoke up and back to family members that for years put their desires ahead of mine and told me what to think and feel. I freaked 90% of people that knew me out because this new me was “not nice”. I had to accept the harsh reality that because I was so used to having No boundaries that having any boundaries would guarantee I’m alone before I meet new safe people…tough to accept but my shadow was killing me

    For the first time in my life I’m not scrutinizing every outfit I wear, I’m not trying to impress other people, I’m not volunteering for everything at work and over functioning, I’m not being habitually nice to people, I’m not going to places I don’t like with PPl I don’t like just to be accepted, I’m not pretending to be a party girl or boozehound when I can barely stomach alcohol, I don’t feel like being phony and or pretending to like somebody out of fear of rejection, I’m not letting people get away with being nasty to me and walking over me like a doormat, instead the pain of never again woke me up…my shadow is desperately trying to convince me that I’m a raving lunatic and bully and my values are boring so I need to make nice, be submissive, apologize, by better clothes, and lose 20 pounds before I end up all alone…..I’m glad I’m no longer unaware of my insecure little shadow, but I have a long way to go .Thanks for the eye opener Shola…

    • That was an awesome read Melonie, thanks for getting so personal with us. Your journey reminds me of a few people that I know, with the exception that they are still in the habit of being a doormat, excusing the inexcusable, and basically accepting scraps and crumbs and calling it “love.” It’s so sad. I’m very happy that the lights came on and you were able to reinvent yourself in the image that fully honors you and your unique gifts. Seeking acceptance outside of ourselves is like keeping a leaky boat afloat–it’s a pointless and guaranteed failing exercise. Congrats to you for making the change, and I’m confident that anyone who reads your comment will be inspired to do the same 🙂

  8. Hi Shola, another important topic, and definitely one that cuts to the chase! My shadow self is the real me that rarely came out. I have been a people pleaser too, not that I was really wanting to be admired or even accepted. It was more a conflict avoidance tactic, just wanting to be left alone and not attract any trouble. I felt like I’d had so much grief and misery growing up, I just wanted peace and quiet, and to get along, minding my own business. I stifled any part of me that might be controversial, never voiced an opinion, dressed in a drab, non-descript manner, always went with the flow of what everyone wanted, never took a stand with people who treated me wrong. In my forties, after being screwed over by several so-called friends, and a few employers, I realized that there was nothing I could do to prevent these things from happening. I could be myself, or I could be a mouse, it didn’t matter, some people were always going to come along and be asses to me. When I figured that out, it was actually a relief. It took all the pressure off to conform. I just let that all go. Ha Ha my shadow self has been unleashed. I cut my hair super short, wear big ole high heels, got extra piercings in my ears, and laugh and talk a little on the loud side. I voice opinions, stand up for what’s right, and tell really dirty jokes. I don’t attend events I’m not interested in, or with people whom I don’t enjoy. And if there’s something I want to do and no one will go, I go by myself. This is like getting out of jail! I hope everyone reading this will be encouraged to continue to work on this. It really is worth it, and life will be so much better!

    • Man, that is so true Donna! It’s okay to give ourselves permission to fully be ourselves and embrace our uniqueness. Your comment reminds of a quote from Kurt Cobain who said, “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.” How many people go to events that they don’t want to go to, stay in relationships that they don’t want, and even choke down meals that disgust them just so they are liked and accepted by others? I’ve done all three, and I can say from personal experience, that is the crappiest way to live life. Like you, I’ve embraced my authenticity and there’s no going back now :). Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. This notion is in a fun children’s book I’m reading now, _The Mysterious Benedict Society_. The way it’s explained there is that everyone has a greatest fear (yours might be fear of not having the approval of others). The villain makes a machine that finds and assuages that fear, and that makes the machine addictive. People will do whatever he wants to get back to that machine! Super scary times as you might imagine.

    • Debbie, thank goodness that is only make believe, because if that was real, using that machine would be the most addictive pursuit in the history of the universe!

  10. My shadow is always looking to impress to please others and never myself. I always seek to make others happy but never myself. This may be the issue to my other side to take over and loss my temper, to speak up and not have control. I also tend to note the policy and procedure at work and the boss’s don’t care for it. My wanting acceptance has hurt me from keeping my job not getting along with just that one person who I am always trying to impress my supervisor. She never accepted me, spoke to me like I was beneath her. She never welcomed me, never said thank you, treated and spoke to me disrespectful in my point of view. But seeking acceptance is not a bad thing it is wanting show that you have worked hard and would like to be recognized for your accomplishments and hard work. I do not think I am arrogant but humble.

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  1. […] The Other Side I hate to tell you this, but there’s no amount of positive thinking, meditation, or Positivity Solution blog posts (ahem) that will make your “other self” disappear. […]

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