Are there people in your life that you just can’t stand?
Like, they have some serious issues and are constantly testing you?
These people probably annoy you, make you angry. Hell, you might even hate them, or consider them your enemy.
You may secretly hope they’ll disappear from your life. That way, you would have to see their stupid face or hear their stupid remarks. You won’t have to compromise your peace or “bite your tongue.”
In short, you won’t have to deal with those triggers anymore…
But, what if I told you that those triggers won’t disappear?
That you’ll just find someone else who will make you feel that way?
Or—something radical here—what if that person you’re thinking of right now might be the ‘good guy’ in your story?
If there’s someone like this in your life and you’re reading this and immediately feeling turned-off—thinking “no way”—I’d like to introduce you to a natural defense mechanism that we all have.
In the field of psychology, they call this the “Shadow Self”.
The Shadow is the part of us that contains all aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to admit to having—it’s our emotional blind spot.
It’s made up of the ideas, desires, weaknesses, fears, instincts, and shortcomings we have that we push away.
We develop this shadow when we adapt to cultural norms and the expectations of our parents and other authority figures. And it reveals itself to us (if we’re aware enough to notice it) as negative, often automatic, unintentional, and unconscious responses to events, people, and situations.
Basically, we act defensively, become impatient, resist change, manipulate others, or act territorial and aggressive—here’s the tragic part—without even realizing we’re doing so.
You and I might think we know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it… What we’re saying and why we’re saying it… But that’s not always the case. There are usually deeper motives to our behavior than we originally think. The fact is, we are cognitively flawed and not perfectly self-aware.
And the thing about the shadow is, everyone has within them a shadow. You too. And me. All of us do. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we begin to explore ours.
One way to do that is to stop blaming others. Instead, welcome the idea that these people are somehow serving you as a mirror, piercing into the depths of your own soul.
Radical idea, maybe.
Just give it a try.
When you feel strong emotions that seem to be out of place, just pause and reflect. 🧐
“Why am I feeling this way?”
“What part of me is making me think this way?”
“Are these emotions pointing to some limiting belief I have?”
“Is this person showing me some part of myself that I don’t want to accept?”
These people may actually be doing some messed up things. But consider where in your life you’ve behaved even remotely similarly.
When you can identify the basis behind those strong “negative” emotions, you can begin to accept them. When you can accept your emotions and why you feel them, you can begin to accept yourself. When you can accept yourself, you can begin to work on yourself.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.” — Carl Rogers