“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side if I am to be whole.”
― Carl Jung
I’ve been judging myself a lot lately. I judge myself when my competitive nature emerges. I judge myself when I get angry. I judge myself for being insecure, emotional, jealous, afraid, selfish, superficial…you name it and I’ll find a way to judge it. It gets exhausting and it really does no good to continually beat myself up.
I tell my clients all the time, “Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend. Would you say that to your best friend? Then don’t say it to yourself.” If you think about, we’re born alone and we die alone. I spend more time with myself than anyone else. Why wouldn’t I have my own back?
I was sitting around talking with some friends at dinner last night, and an old coworker of ours came up in conversation. She was loud and brutally honest. She owned every part of herself- her anger, her truth, her addictions, her flaws, her dirty mouth. She wore it all with pride. And you know what? The consensus in the room was that we all loved her. She was a breathe of fresh air. It suddenly dawned on me that we love people who own their darkness. Why? Because we all have dark sides! We’ve just been taught to judge and hide them. When we see someone who embraces theirs, we think, “Thank God! Someone’s finally being honest!”
We love someone who dares to be real and we cheer it on when we see it. They give us permission to be real with ourselves without piling on the guilt. I admit, I’m a preacher of love and kindness, but I cannot deny that I have a shadow side, and I can’t judge myself for that. I am who I am, and sometimes it ain’t pretty. But you know what? That’s what makes life interesting. So why don’t we give ourselves a break and yell if we feel like yelling, pout if we feel like pouting, and love if we feel like loving.
When we own all of who we are, our emotions don’t have such a hold on us. I am not my emotions and they do not define me, but they are a part of my experience, and I can’t deny that. So, feel them, all of them. And, at the end of the day, no matter which emotions have showed up, the good or the ugly, own them without judgment and be kind to yourself. That’s my goal.