I know, I know, another Star Wars reference. But here’s where my philosophy is different from Yoda’s. I feel it’s important to embrace your dark side.
Take 30 seconds and do this**:
–>Draw a circle with at least a 4-inch diameter.
–>Along the outer edges of the circle, write words that describe your qualities–both the good (the “light”) and the not-so-good (the “dark”).
All these parts of you are valid. And they have an important role to play in different circumstances in your life. (Within reason, of course: I’m not condoning qualities like “murderous”.) And your contrasting qualities—like when you are sometimes generous and sometimes stingy—need one another: like yin and yang, they are part of the whole. Your whole.
Example: I am super organized. But sometimes the piles build and the disorder gets unruly: that’s when I know something is brewing. Either a new idea, an untapped emotion, or a shift in my life or business.
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”autopx” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“Without suffering there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”*[/dropshadowbox]
You can embrace your mud (your dark side) by looking inside to learn who and what voices are influencing your emotions, thoughts, and actions. Each one of us has an Internal Board of Directors, and sometimes one or more of the voices in your inner board room are playing a negative role. Or at least that’s how you perceive it.
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”autopx” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“One way of taking care of our suffering is to invite a seed of the opposite nature to come up. As nothing exists without its opposite, if you have a seed of arrogance, you have also a seed of compassion. Every one of us has a seed of compassion. If you practice mindfulness of compassion every day, the seed of compassion in you will become strong. You need only concentrate on it and it will come up as a powerful zone of energy. Naturally, when compassion comes up, arrogance goes down. You don’t have to fight it or push it down. We can selectively water the good seeds and refrain from watering the negative seeds.”*[/dropshadowbox]
When I guide clients through the Internal Board of Directors exercise, they learn who sits at their board table–and they learn how to transform any “negative” voices into positive and productive players.
You do have the power to transform your life. Embracing your dark side is part of a natural process of building self-awareness and harnessing that awareness to make positive change
*Source: Thich Nhat Hahn in his book No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
**Thanks to Maria Sirois, PsyD, for the inspiration for this exercise.