During my plane ride to Pennsylvania I was listening to an older episode of one of my favorite Podcasts (Mindful Living Spiritual Awakening with Marijo Puleo, PhD). This episode, Me And My Shadow, instantly spoke to me. It dove right into the things we tend not to talk about, beginning with so-called dark urges/emotions.
I’m going to pause right here to express some gratitude for people who normalize things most humans have been conditioned to believe should be hidden. I believe we have stronger connections when we are able to be vulnerable and share the things that make us human with others. There is incredible strength in vulnerability.
Back to my original thought…We are conditioned to hide traits that are “unaccepted” by society, friends, family, media, the list goes on. By repressing these emotions or traits we create a shadow. This shadow is fueled by what we’re taught is unacceptable to be. As we get older and have more experiences, this shadow expands and what triggers us changes. Our reactions to these triggers may change as well. Puleo refers to the “beach ball effect” to demonstrate this. If you’ve ever tried to hold a blown up beach ball under water you know that eventually the beach wall will rise to the surface, typically with more power the longer it’s held down. This is similar to what is bound to happen when repressing emotions for so long. Everything that’s been hidden for so long comes out eventually…usually in an outburst of sorts that’s far from ideal or healthy. What these outbursts are are years of unprocessed pain coming to surface. Without becoming conscious of what urges are being repressed, the cycle will just continue.
Puleo tells us that “dark impulses are a natural human urge”. This may be true but that doesn’t mean we, as a society, have gotten to the point where we can address and healthily deal with these dark impulses without shaming one another. Shame makes us feel unworthy of love or belonging. So, it’s no surprise we tend to hide the things that make us feel ashamed. With that being said, running and hiding from shame gives it control. So, how do we stand up to shame? Start by telling your story.
Sharing your story requires vulnerability. Unfortunately, we’re living in an age that romanticizes not giving a fuck. How often do you go on social media to see someone who just got out of a relationship boasting about how little they care?* Let me just say this, FEELING DOESN’T MAKE YOU WEAK. If we all act like we’re walking away from painful situations without a scratch, how will we ever learn that feeling what we feel is okay? I’m not suggesting sharing your deepest secrets with strangers. But, if you feel compelled to share your truth with another human being, I urge you to embrace that vulnerability. And on the other hand, if someone is vulnerable with you, please, show compassion.
I’m barely scratching the surface of this Podcast, I just wanted to write about what spoke to me most. I would strongly suggest listening to it for more information! To sum this up:
- We have all been conditioned to repress some sort of urge.
- Lighten up, we’re all humans here.
- Share your story. Don’t give shame power by hiding in silence, secrecy, and judgement.
- Don’t be an asshole if someone is vulnerable with you.
- Your feelings are so fucking valid! Feel them!
*Disclaimer: I am guilty of having done this.