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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: August 26, 2013 (Michael Bloomberg advice, hipsters video & Miley Cyrus + Robin Thicke)

Michael Bloomberg’s advice for success — Michael Bloomberg is the 13th richest person in the world.  So you have to listen to him when he gives advice on how to succeed.  At the same time, he’s getting quite a bit of flack for his approach.  Some would consider his suggestions outdated, but I give it to the guy for being willing to hustle and get it done.  I’m intrigued by his “old school” work ethic as well as the criticism he’s taking.  Some people make it his way, and some people make it other ways, so I’m not going to criticize the guy for telling us to work hard, and when you’re tired of that, work hard some more.  Yes, you need to choose your priorities and make sure you’re living the life that fulfills you and achieves the goals you’ve chosen, but don’t knock the guy for being honest about what’s worked for him.

Hipster Thanksgiving — This is hilarious because I’m pretty sure I know these people in real life ….

Miley Cyrus twerks, stuns VMAs crowd — I’m cracking up at this photo of the Will and Jada Smith and their kids at the Video Music Awards on MTV during Miley Cyrus’ performance.  Apparently, Miley has decided to push her career over to the “outrageous” category and made that decision official through her VMA performance.  Don’t watch the videos of the performance unless you really want to be shocked to see Hannah Montana go a whole other direction. What a way to make news.


In a similar vein, TIME Magazine TV critic James Poniewozik wrote sentiments on Twitter that coincide with the looks on the Smith family’s faces.


And the looks on the faces of Rihanna and the One Direction guys are telling as well.  The whole thing has become the joke of the Internet today, including a play-by-play over at Buzzfeed called the The 15 Weirdest And Craziest Moments From Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance.


Apparently Miley helped Twitter set some records as well, helping this year’s VMAs hit 306,100 tweets per minute, and at one point, a one-second peak of 143,199 tweets per second.

Interestingly (and I’m willing to acknowledge that my first published version of this post didn’t include this observation) the only real criticism I’ve heard of Robin Thicke in this moment is people who didn’t like his striped suit.  Maybe it’s because this was Miley’s true “coming out” moment as an explicit, over-the-top act after her early career as a cleaner Disney actress, or maybe it’s because Robin Thicke has already taken all of his heat when his video full of topless women was released, but over at Jezebel, in a post titled “Miley’s Need to Shock Was The Least Shocking Thing About It”, they’re asking why we’re only talking about Miley in this moment (as we talked about Janet Jackson after his Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” and not too much about Justin) and not bringing Robin into the criticism.  A friend pointed me over to the Jezebel questioning, which is valid here:

“Cyrus’s performance was shocking, but for reasons not being discussed. It was jarring because, as opposed to the random, half-nude models we’re used to seeing prance around Robin Thicke, we were watching a 20-year-old woman — a household name, someone we “know” — play the object in Thicke’s sexy sex dream. And as was the case during the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl fiasco of 2004, the focus has been on Miley’s performance choices and not Thicke’s compliance in them. While criticizing a woman for her actions might imply that she’s being given an agency that has been long denied, it’s not. It’s holding her to a standard not required of her companion, who got to sit back and enjoy the young ass shoved in his face. “

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Daily Download: August 16, 2013 (Scientology compound / suicide website / nifty maps / pool noodles)

Scientology’s ‘alien space cathedral and spaceship landing pad’ built in the New Mexico desert — This is cool!  Scientology apparently has a complex in New Mexico that includes a mile-long landing strip, purportedly for alien (or humas coming from space) landings, massive circles and diamonds etched in the ground to make sure the aliens (or humans returning to Earth after a nuclear catastrophe) can find the place, and a 3-story house built into a mountainside that supposedly has chambers and tunnels into the mountain for the safe keeping of L. Ron Hubbard’s writings.  That’s full blown sci fi movie material!  These Scientologists have great toys and parties and complexes!  Where do they come up with the money to do all of this and maintain it all?  My understanding of Scientology is that it’s very money-driven, but how many people have the cash to dump into their religion to build desert complexes like this and pay the staff to maintain them?  I wonder how much the custodian of this New Mexico complex gets paid to run a super-secret, end-times enclave.

Former Kansas City Star sports journalist creates website to explain his suicide — In what appears to be a first, someone has created an entire website to explain their suicide.  Sports journalist Martin Manley, who left the Kansas City Star in early 2012, killed himself Thursday on his 60th birthday in front of a police station.  Even more surreal than that, the website seems to point to a $200,000 treasure of his remaining gold and silver coins buried in an Overland Park, Kansas botanical garden, identified by GPS coordinates on his suicide website. Investigation has since shown the this treasure of coins was actually given away last year.  In the site, where he explains “Why suicide?” he notes that he doesn’t have any health issues driving the suicide, and under the “Health” link, he goes deep into his health history to show that he doesn’t have any major health issues.  But one report notes that he was “suffering from grapheme-color synesthesia and his mind was deteriorating rapidly”, although  he has a page about his synesthesia but doesn’t seem to have any concern about it beyond novelty.  I think the “mind was deteriorating rapidly” is actually a separate thought from the synesthesia discussion, as he discusses that he has memory problems but they don’t seem related to the synesthesia.  Regardless, the site he created to commemorate and explain his life and his ultimate suicide (there is also a mirror site — the site in general seems to have some issues and certain pages are inaccessible, and I can’t access a few of the pages on the main site or the mirror) has been prepaid for 5 years and is a pretty intriguing read, walking through his life story but also simply working through personal facts about himself that he finds worth remembering, even down to discussions of gun control, 9/11 conspiracies, his traffic ticket history, the benefits of living in Johnson County, Kansas and more.

Adverse possession (from Wikipedia) — I’m simply linking to the Wikipedia page on adverse possession because it’s a novel legal topic that I explained to a friend today.  It’s one of those things that you learn about early in law school in real property law, and when it’s explained to you, you ask, “Is that really legal?”  It’s essentially the idea that if you treat someone else’s property as yours and act like you own it for a continuous 10 year period, you can get a judge to enter an order that it’s now yours.  It lines up with the concept of “squatter’s rights”, but it’s actually something that’s come up quite a bit during my legal career.  There are several elements that must be fulfilled to have a successful claim for adverse possession and it can easily fall apart if you’re not diligent in pursuing your fake rights to property that isn’t yours.   The Wikipedia entry does a good job of walking through the particulars, but if you’re looking for a fun legal topic today to learn today, check out adverse possession.

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World  — These maps are amazing.  They’re a great visual way to synthesize information and research from around the world.  I was enthralled.  Even cooler was the map of Pangea, the supercontinent made up of all other continents that was apparently  broken up by continental drift.  Back in third grade, I made the connection that the continents sure seemed like puzzle pieces, and this map is a concept of what it would look like with all the puzzle pieces put back together.

6 Silly But Clever Uses for Pool Noodles — As we start wrapping toward the end of summer, here is  a useful list of things you can do with pool noodles besides using them as pool noodles.  I like the floating drink barge idea.  But, beware, you’re going to have to cut up your pool noodles to make most of these work.


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