The Person You Would Rather Not Be

janis cohen shadow face

They are real.

You can feel them but you can’t always see them.

They lurk around the corner. Masterfully weave themselves into your life.  They are bold, ruthless, and take prisoners.

They will haunt you until they are stopped.

Are you ready to stop them?

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do is to look at the dark parts of yourself.

You know what I’m talking about; those aspects of yourself that you actively avoid acknowledging.

They seem elusive and when you really try to think about them, either it’s too painful and you shut them out or you vehemently deny that these ugly, reprehensible, and socially unacceptable parts of you exist.

But they do.

The funny thing is though, as much as we deny, push aside or bury these seemingly burdensome bits of who we are, the universe has a magical way of bringing them right in front of us.

We see these faulty pieces in others, and with ease, we detest them.

It’s amazing how your vision is 20/20 when you look at the actions of others.

You call it like you see it.

Silently or aloud, depending on your personality.

And, you are quite confident about your accuracy.

Interesting fact: while it’s easiest to see these horrid qualities in others, it is the hardest to see them in yourself.  The lovely part of life is that you will continue to be exposed to “these types of people’s behaviors” until you acknowledge them and accept them as belonging to you.

These shadow aspects: the traits, needs, drives, abilities, feelings and potentials that we brush away are often experienced as saboteurs; disrupting our stride and undermining our success.

Or so we think.

Imagine a time when you noticed that a quality or characteristic of someone who left you feeling sour, angry, frustrated, disappointed, greedy, envious, or betrayed.

Reactively, you held the other person accountable for the feelings you felt.

It’s natural, right?

We all want to blame something outside of ourselves for causing us to feel something negative.

Here’s the catch:

 “Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.”

That doesn’t make for a quick escape now, does it?

Whatever you deem evil, unacceptable or inferior, you must understand that you are denying this within yourself.

Think of it this way, what bothers you in someone else is simply incompatible with who you have decided that you are; it goes against what you value and how you value it.

It also goes against the very image that you want to portray to others about who you think you are.

Carl Jung coined the term “shadow” as the hidden, repressed, and inferior parts of ourselves.

Freud characterized this part of ourselves as “projection”,  a defense mechanism where we unconsciously cast these qualities or characteristics on others to avoid confronting it in ourselves.

Now, you might not really care about Carl Jung or Freud, but what they say about this makes sense.

And, from my own personal evolution and working with clients for the past 24 years, I have seen this time and time again.

We ALL struggle to accept the parts of ourselves that are negative.  If we were completely comfortable with each part of who we are, we wouldn’t be upset with anyone or offended by anything.

Each of us has felt inferior, arrogant, contemptuous, betrayed, a sell out, envious, greedy, unfairly treated, angry, or appalled.

And, as most of us do, we brand others with responsibility for what we feel; for what we find unacceptable within ourselves.

The really cool thing about being aware of this,is that you have the opportunity to look at your list of flaws, your list of  dislikes, and your list of “offenses that others have committed against you” and once and for all, own them.

Because they really belong to you.

No one else.

It’s not easy to see that what truly bothers you is an “encounter with fate”; a fate that could bring us peace.

Each time you experience discomfort, pain, anxiety, an offense of some kind, you are literally being given a key to unlock the door to a greater life.

I can tell you that if you choose to see it this way, then your life will immediately change.  You will no longer fear someone uncovering fraudulent aspects of you.

Notice the things that DO NOT bother you.  These are aspects of yourself that you have accepted and are completely comfortable with.

The goal for you then, once you realize what gets on your last nerve, sparks rage within you, or causes you to feel anything negative, is for you to acknowledge accept, and reintegrate these aspects of yourself into your conscious living.

If you find someone “arrogant”, then work on your own self-esteem and then truly live your life as someone who is self-assured and you won’t feel contempt anymore for them.

If you encounter someone who is a “control freak”, work on the fear that underlies your anxiety.  Understand the fear, eliminate/lessen the anxiety and the contempt you have for someone who has these qualities will be non-existent.

If you experience betrayal or are in a relationship where your partner isn’t willing to fully commit, look within at how you are failing yourself in these ways.  Be faithful to yourself.  Commit fully to yourself and your happiness and, POOF!  That issue is gone!

You will be able to give a respectful nod to others who are also at the top of their game.

They will be formidable allies, not opponents.

The goal is to re-frame the negative quality into its healthy expression and resolve it within you and you will have resolved the problem itself.

Homework:  make a list of the qualities or characteristics that get under your skin.  Find a way to re-frame (redefine) what it means to you and about you, and then work on incorporating that positive twist of that negative quality into your life.

I guarantee that once you do this successfully, you will never be bothered by that characteristic in other people again.

You will live more peacefully, more productively, and you will, NO DOUBT, experience a comfort level with yourself that far exceeds your wildest dreams.

Cheers to the shadow!

Now, turn on the light and get to work!

In love and light,

Janis

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