Getting to know the different parts of ourselves can be healing

You might think that the good person whom you like to think you are is always perfectly nice and reasonable, pleasant to be around, positive, calm and agreeable, and that that’s what others want. Then you might also want to throw your toys out of the pram, have a tantrum and be perfectly obnoxious. These different parts of ourselves can feel uncomfortable to be around. For example you may know you can’t be like that, having tantrums, quite simply for various reasons of a social kind, like that’s not what one does, others don’t like it – and they certainly won’t like us – and we might not get what we want. But then again you might get home and out it comes in yelling at the kids or at your partner or at the dog. What’s this “other side” of us? I mean, are we really like this, and might we really be nasty people trying not to be? Well, who are we?

Being a nice person of course is a very effective strategy for getting what you want. In ego terms it is a survival strategy. Not everybody does it. Some just get what they want by being beastly. Period. Not that people I work with necessarily see it like that. They may want to be “nice” (such an English term, folks!) and they may want others to be the same. They may be fearful of others being beastly and so being nice helps to prevent that. Then again they may simply want peace and calm (who doesn’t?!) and this strategy seems to do it for them, well most of the time, or they’d like it that way. But people aren’t all like that. Bother.

There’s another factor: ourselves. There’s what Jung called the Shadow, theĀ  disowned part of us that we’re not comfortable with and that we project on to others. Somehow we learned early on that being beastly wasn’t OK so we suppressed it, made it “not me”, and instead we experience it in others. That’s how projection works. It seems to be others who are like that, and we don’t see that we have a bit of that quality within us too. Uncomfortable realisation.

Effective personal growth work can involve getting to know that part of us, and not disowning it but rather learning to find a non-toxic way of integrating it into our lives. It often has something to teach us. The paradox is so often that when we own our different “sides”, we start to become more “whole”, authentic and real. For example, some learn to stand up for themselves a lot more, and find shouting for example and being unreasonable releases pent up rage, and lets go of rules they grew up with that don’t serve them, so that this underlying energy dissipates (I did say, in a non-toxic way, please bear in mind). Then people buy us a lot more, trust us more and actually feel more comfortable with us. Comfortable outcome.

So the bit of us that wants to throw the toys out of the pram is invaluable. Paradoxically too, for some of us that way can lie peace.