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February 11, 2016

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Embracing Your Shadow



By embracing our Shadow!


While many of us are ready to claim our “positive” traits, such as positive thinking, optimism and gratitude, we are equally likely to disown our “negative” traits and emotions, such as jealousy, insecurity, anger, etc.


I encourage us to go beyond embracing our sunny side, and also embrace our shadow side.


As human beings, we possess all traits, “positive” ones and “negative” ones.  If the negative ones go un-owned, they are pushed away into our subconscious.  When this happens, they are still present and may be more powerful than we realize in our decision-making and “reactions.” 


How can we then dis-empower them?  By calling them out.


If we can view ourselves in a non-judgmental and friendly way and recognize and call out these traits we can own them.  Once we do, we can use them CONSCIOUSLY to our benefit.


So, while positive thinking and visualizing happy outcomes is a powerful tool in creating and cultivating the lives we want, they do not always motivate us to take the necessary action and do the work needed to realize our dreams.


Why?  We feel to good coming out of the dreamy meditation!  Relaxed and at ease.  Not necessarily fired-up to take action!


In their 2011 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology article, authors Heather Barry Kappes and Gabriele Oettingen argue that “positive fantasies that idealize the future are found to be inversely related to achievement over time: the more positively the fantasies are experienced, the less effort do people invest in realizing these fantasies, and the lower is their success in achieving them” (p. 719).”


To make a dream a reality takes hard work and effort!


Where does the deep seeded motivatation come from?  Often times, from our “negative” emotions.


While anger, jealousy, insecurity can be difficult to sit with and uncomfortable, they can also serve a powerful, positive purpose.


• Anger fuels creativity
• Guilt sparks improvement
• Self-doubt enhances performance


In the same vein, we can become wiser and more effective when we harness the darker parts of our personality in certain situations. For instance:

• Selfishness increases courage
• Mindlessness leads to better decisions


So, I encourage all of us to EMBRACE OUR WHOLE SELVES!


Three great books to read on the topic are:

·      The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Deborah Ford

·      The Upside of Your Dark Side by Todd Kashdan, Ph.D. and Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph.D. (2014)

·      Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation by Gabriele Oettingen, Ph.D.





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