Dear style & substance:
Do you think that we all have an alter ego? I feel like I am trying constantly to suppress “the other way I feel” to go along with “what is required.” My hoped for life often times feels more real to me than my real life. I hope your insights will help me figure this out.
Our answer is YES…and NO! We believe the dark and light versions of the self can live together. It is nice to think that we might have a better, braver version of ourselves lurking in the shadows…but the thought of a not-so- nice, not-so-easy to get along with version of ourselves can be so scary we often suppress or ignore this side of ourselves. This internal struggle is universal – as a starting point in your exploration, we suggest you see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” currently playing at local theatres. It is based on the short story by James Thurber and explores one man’s quest to bring forth his braver, yet somewhat darker and more reckless version of himself.
We can see our alter ego as a hero type, who steps up and saves the day or is careful to not leave good things left unsaid OR as a franker, less appealing version of ourselves.
Carl Jung wrote extensively about the shadow self; one of many thoughts he shared on this topic is as follows:
“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
The less we acknowledge the darker part of ourselves, the darker it becomes, so like Jung, we say, welcome it in to your life. We are not black and white, even though it would be easier to manage; it is the gray areas that make us unique. We agree that it is frightening to uncover these suppressed feelings, judgments or emotions, but know those feelings will emerge badly in some way; if not recognized. YOU control your actions when you are highly aware of how you truly feel!
If you believe your alter ego to be more heroic than you could comfortably act out, you may see that finding genuine communication to say what “you wished you had said” will make relationships more meaningful and heartfelt. An “after note”, follow-up conversation is usually very well received… .“I was thinking about our talk and really wanted to add something I had thought about after…”
So, where to start?
• Keep calm and be quiet: Pay attention to the whispering that you hear, the commentary that is nagging at you, that alter ego that is wanting to be heard! Recognizing it doesn’t mean that you need to share it with others, just listen and begin to evaluate these thoughts and signs. There are “certain ways” that we know we should behave, but there are also ways to share what you are feeling in a calm and acceptable manner.
• Ask yourself this question…“What do I want to do that I am not doing now?” Allow this answer to push you forward through the fears that are keeping you wondering if this is all there is in life! Answering this question can ultimately bring you to a place of greater satisfaction if you are willing to explore the complexities of your whole self: light/dark, yin/yang, old/new.
• And this question, “Have I boxed MYSELF in to “what is required” and not given MYSELF permission to change? Hmmmm, it may not be others holding you back, it could by you.
• Inch toward what you would really like to say or do incrementally; all at once might get too much attention or come out wrong. Trying out expressing how you feel in writing or through a touch or expression will make the words come easier, when you are ready.
• Don’t feel the need to apologize for honest, well-delivered words. People may be surprised if you are finally truly expressing, but they may be the healing and communicative balm that the relationship needed; like ripping the band aid off to see what is really there!
If your intentions are honest and good, being “predictably unpredictable” is maybe what you are seeking…a little of the old self, mixed in with the new and changing self! That is a great way to start the New Year!
LIFE COACHING is a great way to start your new year in tune with your wishes to meet personal, relationship and employment goals! Call us for an appointment, 578-6396.
Don’t forget to join us for:
body, mind & spirit
keep the winter blues at bay!
Come and share great conversation, insights and a glass of wine with our empowering wellness professionals, inspirational speakers and spirited hosts
Sponsored by: Style & Substance and the Champlain Wine Company
When: NEW YEAR DATES: JAN. 15, FEB. 5 & 19 - 5:30 - 7 p.m.
Jan. 15 featuring: Elizabeth Pearl, Physical Therapist & Jonathan Cron, Photographer