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Taking first steps to sort through your personal dark side

In my last post, I was talking about how we each struggle with our own personal dark side. We each seem to hold onto things about ourselves that we think no one else should ever know.

Sometimes we are dealing with facts and regrets from our past.  Other times, we struggle in our hearts and mind over situations we have lived through that we can’t seem to process. Oftentimes, instead of processing these things consciously, we just hold them and hide them. But whatever your personal dark side looks like, simply trying to hide it deep inside does not work. What’s eating you up inside always seem to find a way to leak out through your personality, moods, treatment of others, inability to move forward in life, or just your emotions or lack of them.

I shared lyrics from the Kelly Clarkson song “Dark Side” and how that song captures the struggle of processing your personal dark side and what to do with it. Throughout it all, the crux of the song is relationship, about revealing your dark side to someone else and the risk of doing so. At its heart is a desire to overcome the fear of rejection to be known and understood.

Or will you stay
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out
Will you return?
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am

Who have you let glimpse into the depths and dark of your soul? Anyone? It’s hard to do. It’s scary. We fear losing control of our personal dark side, of the darkness, the anxiety, the fear somehow taking over. I’ve felt that fear. We all have if we’re being honest with ourselves. Wrestling with our personal dark sides is a very earthy, real life human moment. We all experience that struggle in different ways. Trying to move past that personal dark side can feel like trying to scale a wall of fear that hinders personal progress.  Realistically, though, the only real way to move forward is to climb that wall of fear created by your personal dark side and get to the other side.

Climbing over wall of your personal dark side

I won’t judge anyone for fighting hard to hold onto their darkness. When you combine the fear of losing control of your deepest and darkest secrets along with the risk of rejection from someone you love, that’s a huge wall to climb over. It is not easy.  At one moment or another, we have all tried to climb over that wall, tried to overcome those fears to talk to someone about what’s going on inside us.

It is also important to acknowledge that sometimes our hesitation isn’t just for self-preservation sake. We might also fear for the other person. What will happen if we pass our pain and hurt and darkness over to that person we love and trust? Will our pain and darkness somehow transfer over to them in the process and hurt them as well? Sometimes our struggle and darkness feels so heavy. We are not sure that another person can handle the burden. The last thing we want to do is drop a weight on this person we love and inadvertently cause them or our relationship to crumble under the weight of our pain.

We have all stood at the foot of that wall and stared up at it, wondering if it’s worth the risk and the energy that will be required to scale it and get over it. We wonder if there’s something better on the other side of the wall that’s actually worth the effort.

A few tips from what I have seen and experienced in my own life:

Just tell one person about your personal dark side

Don’t let the fears overwhelm you. You don’t have to go tell the world or bare your soul on on Facebook. Just tell your person, the one you know you can trust. Share your personal dark side quietly and one-on-one in person with someone you know who will love you regardless and who will not hold it against you. It may be a friend, a counselor or pastor, or a lover or spouse. Find your person and let them in.

Take your time and go slow

Share it in pieces, in small, manageable bites, to make sure it’s really safe and to find your stride with them and to give the time to process it with you. It will take time, but doesn’t real relationship always take time? There’s no rush. You have been processing your personal dark side for a long time. You can afford to take some time to work it out slowly. It may take your other person some time to process as well, so there is no need to hurry.

Consider meditation to help separate out and better identify your personal dark side

Over the last six months, I have become a big fan of meditation thanks to the Headspace app.  I have found that meditation has taught me how to separate my thoughts and fears from my identity. Your dark side, when it comes down to it, is not your identity.  Your dark side is merely thoughts, feelings and experiences that you cling to and identify with.  Try meditation with a goal of learning how to separate your personal dark side from your actual individual identity.  It might help you find a place from which you can move forward.  There are many ways to get into meditation, but the simplest I have found are the sites and apps like Headspace and Calm.

Don’t be afraid of the professionals

I have learned a deep respect for the professionals who work with human minds and relationships. The human psyche is complex on so many levels and can have so many layers, stacked and integrated one upon the other. Professional counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists have been trained and have tools and insights that might be more helpful than just talking to a friend. Also, professionals have confidentiality obligations. Knowing that your matters will be kept confidential can help you work through your stuff without fear of anyone else knowing until you want them to know.  If you don’t quite know where to start in finding a professional therapist, you might check out this Art of Charm podcast mini-episode titled How To Find A Therapist.

Climbing over that wall of fear will make all the difference

From my personal experience and from walking alongside friends through this process, expending the time, energy and effort to climb over that wall of fear created by your personal dark side is worth everything you will put into it. It will be hard. It will require significant mental and emotional expense on your part. Take your time and don’t rush it, but do the work it takes to climb that wall.

Everyone’s story and situation and experience is different, but it will be worth it. Honestly, you may not feel it immediately.  But over time, you fill find a place a solace, a level of peace, freedom and an energy of empowerment that will help you move forward. You will be able to see yourself differently and manage what is inside in a whole different way. It will no longer own you. You will own it. And in a way you didn’t expect, you will share that ownership with the person with whom you shared the experience. Once you are over the wall, you together then will be able to figure out what’s next.

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Daily Download: October 8, 2013 (Obamacare sticker shock, Reid’s refusals, Mid East gay death penalty, nuclear fusion)

Obamacare’s winners and losers in Bay Area — Here’s a good representative article of the sticker shock that some are now feeling now that Obamacare is officially in effect. Some with preexisting conditions are seeing some relief in their premiums, while some who are healthy with no preexisting conditions are seeing an increase, and it seems the difference is primarily based on where they live and how much they make per year with those living in nicer areas and making more money being the ones seeing premium increases. (Can anyone say “class warfare”?)

The story recounts a self-employed father of 4 whose annual family premiums went up by over $10,000. He says that he was laughing at the Republicans in Congress until he got his insurance bill in the mail, and now he suddenly realizes that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t intended to be affordable for him.  Another whose rates went up gave this classic Obamacare quote:

“Of course, I want people to have health care.  I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

In the article, the woman who has previously had breast cancer has seen her insurance rates fluctuate from $317 in 2005 to $1,298 in 2013. Her new rate is now $795. She’s the protagonist in this article, closing out the story by citing the benefits of the new law and encouraging optimism:

“Obamacare is a huge step in the right direction for those of us without employer coverage,” she said, adding that she hopes everyone will “join in and make this new legislation a success for all.”

Can it be a “success for all”? According to the article, the new law will “often” make “some” policies more expensive because it limits out-of-pocket expenses to $6,350 annually for an individual and $12,700 for a family. In addition, the law restricts the minimum and maximum premiums that people can be charged based on their age. Before the new law, a 64-year-old could be charged almost five times more than a 21-year-old, which one would assume makes sense because a 64-year-old is more likely to have health problems. But, beginning Jan. 1, the difference will be a 3-1 ratio, although 64-year-olds didn’t get any healthier overnight. I’m just concerned that these increased costs aren’t sustainable long-term, especially as our population ages.

GOP congressman: We stumbled into war over Obamacare — An anonymous GOP congressman lays out what happened to cause the fight over Obamacare and the ultimate federal government shutdown, showing that it was really caused by Harry Reid’s refusal to negotiate on anything offered on anything by Boehner.  While Boehner takes the blame in the press, the article seems to show that the real fight started because Reid was surprised by the strength of Ted Cruz’s campaign against Obamacare, and Reid in turn sought to embarrass Boehner before his GOP conference, ultimately leading both sides to dig in. The congressman makes a good analogy using the Battle of Gettysburg and how neither side intended to have a battle but instead stumbled into a pretty intense and historic moment.

Gulf states to introduce medical testing on travelers to ‘detect’ gay people and stop them from entering the country — I’m really curious what kind of medical test these Middle Eastern Gulf states are developing to detect homosexuality and how intrusive it is. Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) member countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – outlaw homosexual acts.  I’m surprised to learn that it’s illegal to be gay in 78 countries, with lesbianism banned in 49 countries. Even more, 5 countries will sentence gay people to the death penalty  – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania. Since 1979, Iran has executed more than 4,000 people for committing homosexual acts. In Sudan, the death penalty is issued to men after their third offense, but women may be stoned after their first offense of a lesbian act, or if not, they’ll be given thousands of lashes. Mauritania will stone publicly anyone caught in an “unnatural act”.

Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab — This is a big deal. Nuclear fusion would revolutionize the energy industry, but it’s been elusive for so long. It’s great to hear that a US-based lab is leading the way in developing nuclear fusion technology.

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Daily Download: August 9, 2013 (intermittent fasting / 7-minute workout / brain on beer & coffee)

Intermittent Fasting – The Ultimate Weight Loss Hack — This is an intriguing weight loss approach as well as a general maintenance concept.  In the past year, I’ve read several passing references to the advantages and benefits of fasting from a general lifestyle approach.  I’m curious if this intermittent fasting concept is beneficial long-term or not.

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout in video form — The “Scientific 7-Minute Workout” developed by The Human Performance Institute only comes with illustrations and explanations.  Leave it to to turn those illustrations into a 9-minute workout video with breaks included.  Now you can do the 7-Minute Workout along with the video with music included.  It’s actually pretty handy.

How Beer and Coffee Affect Your Brain — Apparently, it’s Lifehack Friday because I keep running into cool articles. This link is to an article and infographic that shows how the effects of beer and coffee on your brain.  It’s actually very interesting, showing that beer relaxes your brain and can help you come up with new ideas while coffee kicks your brain into an effective gear to execute on ideas.

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