“I don’t trust a guy without a dark side. Call me old fashioned.”
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
The dark side or shadow self of some people leads to destructive or violent behavior, but getting in touch with the hidden or disowned parts of ourselves can help most of us lead a more fulfilling and creative life.
One challenge is that facing those parts can be threatening and make us want to shut down or hide.
Diana Prince / Wonder Woman: I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind.
But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both.
The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light.
Seen the worst of this world, and the best.
Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love.
Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be.
This is my mission, now. Forever.
Wonder Woman (2017) – quotes from imdb.com; image with Gal Gadot from article: Wonder Woman’s Work is Never Done.
“All of us have a dark side.”
Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. of Psych Central goes on to explain:
“This dark side includes qualities we don’t dare reveal to others. It’s the traits we are ashamed of and embarrassed about. It’s the traits others have rejected. It’s the traits we believe deem us undeserving or unworthy of love.
“You may be judgmental, weak, angry, lazy, selfish or controlling. You may hate this about yourself. Or you might’ve buried these traits so deep you don’t even realize they exist.”
But, she adds, “embracing these negative qualities actually opens the door to happiness, fulfillment and “true enlightenment,” according to Debbie Ford in her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.
“Our dark sides are part of who we truly are. By uncovering and embracing our shadow side, we become whole.”
From her post Owning Our Dark Sides.
Related book: The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self by Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Debbie Ford.
video: Debbie Ford Introduces The Shadow Effect
“It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized.” I Ching
This quote is at the beginning of the full video “The Shadow Effect.”
The Hay House summary says: “Be uplifted by the power that is hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind.
“Take this emotionally gripping, visually compelling journey into your mysterious shadow self—the hiding place for your most disliked thoughts, emotions, and impulses—and discover how, by embracing your worst fears, you can step into your greatest self.”
Debbie Ford says “every time you embrace a shadow, you open up a new pathway for your life.” … “Denying our shadow side only leads to more pain, suffering, regret, and resignation.”
Deepak Chopra says: “In order to have manifestation you need to have opposing energies. All experience is the result of contrast. To have a shadow is normal.
“If you had only truth, goodness, and harmony on the inside, and the complete absence of the other, there would be no creative impulse. Everyone has a shadow unless they are standing in the dark.”
The full video “The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self” with Debbie Ford, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, James Van Praagh, and Mark Victor Hansen was presented at the 2016 Hay House World Summit – follow the link to learn about the upcoming Summit.
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video: Creative People and Our Shadow Self
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In my video: Actor William H. Macy once commented, “Nobody became an actor because he had a good childhood.”
Psychologist Cheryl Arutt, Psy.D., agrees that is both a funny and a provocative remark.
She is a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, specializing in trauma recovery, fertility and creative artist issues.
I have had the privilege to interview her several times, and we share a number of interests in how people can better access their creative talents.
Dr. Arutt talks about the concept of the Shadow Self that psychologist Carl Jung addressed in his therapy and writings.
She notes that our emotional health and balance, perhaps especially for artists, may depend on having some understanding and acceptance of the darker or less comfortable sides of ourselves – and doing this also gives us more power to make aware choices rather than just react to life unconsciously.
She thinks that actors and other artists who are willing, in their creative work, to delve into the really “messy” feelings of being human (shame, devastations, disappointments, betrayals, traumas and other experiences), probably have a relationship with those feelings.
A number of actors confirm that idea, saying they are drawn to a role because they feel a strong personal connection with the emotional aspects of that character and story.
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Writer/producer/director Joss Whedon is among many other artists who have acknowledged the value of exploring the darker sides of human experience in their creative work.
His film and TV credits include Avengers: Age of Ultron; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Firefly; Dollhouse and many more.
He has said about his work: “With everything that I do, I hope that they see people struggling to live decent, moral lives in a completely chaotic world.
“They see how hard it is, how often they fail, and how they get up and keep trying. That, to me, is the most important message I’m ever going to tell.”
He adds, “I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place. You can’t be a storyteller and a speechwriter at the same time.”
From my post Developing Creativity – Our Shadow Side.
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Psychotherapist David Richo points out, “Our scared and arrogant ego has an enormous capacity not to know itself.”
That can certainly apply to not knowing our shadow self more.
He goes on to quote Jung: “The shadow is the negative side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious…
“[The shadow] also displays a number of good qualities such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc.”
[From his book: Shadow Dance: Liberating the Power & Creativity of Your Dark Side.]
Quotes are from my post Collaborating With Our Shadow Side.
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Psychologist Stephen A. Diamond talks about some of the shadow emotions we may have learned to disown or stifle.
He says there is a “very strong correlation between anger, rage and creativity, one which most people are not aware of.
“Most of us tend to view anger or rage negatively, associating it almost exclusively with destructiveness and violence.
“Certainly this correlation exists. But anger can also motivate constructive and creative behavior.”
Psychologist Rollo May introduces and defines the classic Greek conception of the “daimonic” or darker side of our being, noting that “the daimonic (unlike the demonic, which is merely destructive) is as much concerned with creativity as with negative reactions.”
From The Psychology of Creativity: redeeming our inner demons – my interview with Stephen A. Diamond, PhD, author of Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil and Creativity.
Hagrid: “It was dark times, Harry, dark times. Voldemort started to gather some followers, brought ’em over to the dark side. Anyone who stood up to him ended up dead.” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2001).
This idea of “dark side” can refer to impulses that lead to violence and destruction – so often topics in popular literature and entertainment.
“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
In an interview, Martin – a writer of the TV series “Game of Thrones” – responded to criticism of the violence of the show and many of his novels. He said:
“And then there’s the whole issue of sexual violence, which I’ve been criticized for as well. I’m writing about war, which what almost all epic fantasy is about.
“But if you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that.
“Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist.
“I want to portray struggle. Drama comes out of conflict. If you portray a utopia, then you probably wrote a pretty boring book.”
From post: George R.R. Martin explains why there’s violence against women on Game of Thrones by James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly.
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Writer Zoe Quiney has some interesting perspectives on what can be part our shadow side and how it may develop:
“We hold in each of us the remnants of old wounds from childhood or the aching emergence of adolescence where our hearts and heads are at war with our bodies and we’re peering at the world, blinking and blushing with awkward innocence.
“We hold in us fears and failures, shame and regret.
“For some these shadows lurk silently, emerging only very sporadically, in the heat of a raging argument with a loved one, or perhaps allowed to bubble unwittingly to the surface after too many glasses of wine.”
From her post: Own your Shadow, Rebelle Society.
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The “brightest flame” quote is also used by Michaela Chung in her post 3 Reasons To Embrace Your Shadow Self – along with these:
“What [people] call the shadow of the body is not the shadow of the body, but is the body of the soul.” ~ Oscar Wilde
“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow.” ~Sylvia Plath
“When we cut away our shadows, what remains seems manufactured and superficial. You see, shadows add depth. Any decent artist will tell you that. A lack of shadows creates a flat and two-dimensional picture. Our beautifully complex personality is sanitized, simplified and stuffed into a box.
“When we take the time to look into our bag of shadows, something magical happens. We begin to see ourselves for who we really are. We start to understand that we weren’t born to be perfect. Our greatest qualities are tethered to our most feared flaws.”
Michaela Chung is an “Introvert Coach, Writer and Entrepreneur.”
See more of her posts and resources at her site Introvert Spring.
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Psychotherapist and mystery author Dennis Palumbo notes that artists “as diverse as Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King and James L. Brooks, Anne Rice and Phillip Roth, Richard Pryor and Diane Arbus… use who they are — all of who they are — as the wellspring of their creativity. Just as it is for yours.”
From my post Facing Our Demons And Creating.
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A final quote:
“Self-acceptance is not something that the religious institutions are into.
“They’re about getting the demons out of you.
“I’m about inviting the demons to, you know, eggplant parmigiana. That’s where wholeness comes from.”
Musician Tori Amos
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Top image: comfort in shadows by JustCallMe_♥Bethy♥_
Part of the caption: “is it safe to come out yet?”
Middle photo: Melisandre (Carice van Houten) in Game of Thrones.
Photo of Tori Amos from her Facebook page.
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One of many related articles: Using our bad thoughts and dark side.
Also see my related videos:
Youtube playlist (50 videos) Mental Health – Emotional Health.
Facebook / Emotional Health and Creativity videos.