Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Dark Side

When I came home from college to visit my mom, I found her watching Spanish-language tele-novelas.

In my most annoying tone I told her:  "Oh. My. God. Mom, why are you watching that ridiculous soap opera?  It's not even real."

She countered:  "No, you are ridiculous if you think people don't really act this way."

Now I'm 44 and the protagonist in my very own tele-novela (sans the TV audience unless facebook counts) replete with melodramatic villains.

We really do act this way.  Well, not all of us and not all the time.

Growing up in mind, body and spirit means that we see life as it really is and not as we wish it were - eyes wide open and not in denial. 

We all have a dark side (the baby part, the id) - villainous and melodramatic with murderous impulses.

But we don't all act on our dark impulses. 

We also have a mature side (the adult part, the ego) and a good side (the parent or God part, the superego). 

Even if we identify with those of us that choose to hurt, lie, cheat, steal and kill ("I can see why he or she would do that"), what we mean is we have had the same thoughts and feelings.  However, we would not do the same thing. 

The baby part wants revenge for the pain - even if the pain is self-inflicted, like envy or jealousy.  The parent part tells us to do the right thing, take responsibility for our feelings and actions, think of the consequences.
The adult part then decides what to do based on the impulses of the baby part and the rules/principles of the parent part.

Sometimes the baby part wins, sometimes the parent part wins and it is the adult part in us who decides.
Out of envy and jealousy, I have seen people compelled to spread rumors and gossip in order to take someone down that is identified as a threat.  Battles may be won this way but not wars.

Out of insecurity, I have seen people lie to everyone - including themselves - in order to maintain a certain image.  It's much easier to maintain an image than to do the work to build character.  My money is on the latter - it's a long-term investment.

In families, sibling rivalry (primal envy and jealousy) runs deep:  fighting over the shot-gun seat in the car, parental love and attention, the bigger piece of cake, bragging rights, and so on.  Physical and psychological warfare is employed in order to prevail.   In the workplace and life in general, sibling rivalry continues but without the limits usually set by mom & dad or the limits of blood and love.  That's when physical and psychological warfare gets really ugly.  

We also have a side that believes in love, hope and truth.  It wants the best for us and the greater good.  This part of us struggles with our dark side.  The tension is what makes us human - not pathological.  It is how we resolve this inner struggle of good and evil that shapes our character, our lives, reputations, and relationships.

Our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world influence which way we go on this.  If we don't acknowledge the dark side in all of us - we are naive and vulnerable to exploitation by others.  If we only see the dark side in all of us - we become cynical, paranoid and bitter.  Tension is good - it keeps us from either extreme.

What are your beliefs about yourself?
What do you think of people in general?
What do you think of life in general?

Our beliefs influence observations about our reality and ourselves.  Do we have the eyes to see?

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