We all have an identities we like to project. We become what we identify with – the “I am” – “I am responsible”, “I am kind”, I am ethical”, I am smart”, “I am successful”……. Then we have all that we reject – the “I-am-nots”. And the “I-am-nots” get pushed into the shadow. There they furtively exist, rejected, unacknowledged, denied, unlived.
Sometimes they slip out and add mystery to our ordered lives. The wise, from time to time, allow their dark side to show: the straight-lace accountant who has a weekend gig in a heavy metal band, the suburban housewife riding with a motor-cycle gang. For the most part the really bad stuff get pushed into the dark: festering, rejected, ashamed, furtive, craving, indecent – all that unconscious jealousy, greed, guilt, shame, anger, fear, defeat, hopeless despair……. There they influence our lives in unfathomable ways. Do you have impulses which are “not you”? Are there days where an uncontrollable anger takes you? Do you react in unsavory ways when under pressure? Do you have a secret life that you are hiding? Compulsive behavior and addiction? Mid-life transition, or mid-life crisis? You may have to journey to the dark side and do a little integration work.
Either we are in touch or we aren’t, but we all have dark sides. The dark side is a scary place when we are standing in the light. Our eyes play tricks on us and we fill up with fear. When we journey to our dark sides, they become illuminated. If we go arrive there without judgement, without fear and without presumptions, instead of an inner-demon, we notice a wounded child. When we heal our wounded children, we are suddenly less fettered to our identity, our personality, our ego.
Suddenly we become less bound by our habitual “I-am”, because we discover that I am many things in different contexts at the same time. “I-am-not” is part of “I-am”. In the end, perhaps, “I-just-am”. But if we don’t also know the dark, we will never really relax to the light.
P.S. Also see The Hero’s Journey: Descending into the Underworld.