Here's something I've been thinking about lately: the idea that whatever circumstances apply to your life, even the dark and painful things that your conscious ego-driven mind adamantly laments and wishes were different -- are, on some level, things that some deep-down part of you unconsciously desires, enjoys, and seeks to reinforce.
We might refer to this part of you as your shadow or your darkness; the part that most people work very hard to suppress and deny.
Let's say, for example, you're stuck in a job that doesn't feed your soul. Every day when your alarm goes off, you wish you didn't have to drag yourself out of bed while it's still dark out and sit in traffic for the better part of an hour just so you can answer emails from a specific geographic location and attend meetings that are so redundant and ineffective they make you want to run screaming from the room.
On your lunch break you may walk around outside, feeling the sunshine on your face and wishing you could be FREE to go for a leisurely bike ride in the middle of the day, or to answer emails on your laptop while sipping red wine from a sidewalk café in Barcelona.
And yet, you stay in the job - or else you exchange it for another just like it. Why?
Many will say that they stay for the security and the benefits and the structure that makes them feel organized and needed and productive and part of a team. And these things may be perfectly true.
But if we were to be blisteringly honest, there may be other reasons we unconsciously perpetuate our shittiest circumstances.
In this case, if we were to really look, we might see that on some level we enjoy having an externalized villain: something that exists outside and independently of us, to rail against and complain about and feel superior to. In this way, we never have to do the deep work of understanding what it is within ourselves that unconsciously acts as a villain and saboteur of our own growth, success, and happiness.
Or say, to take another example, you can't seem to break the ceiling on your income level.
Consciously, you tell yourself you are tired of living from paycheck to paycheck, that you want an abundant life, freedom and opportunity, exotic vacations, the ability to help others, the chance to fund projects that are meaningful to you. Consciously, you think about and even take action on negotiating a raise, starting a side business, or educating yourself on investing.
But unconsciously, could there also be a part of you that enjoys your current circumstances of scarcity and lack?
Is it possible that this allows you to stay within the confines of a world that feels safe and familiar; allows you to continue relating to friends and family who are also comfortable at this level; allows you to persist in blissful ignorance of how financial wealth might potentially disrupt the rhythm and responsibilities of your life, or affect your relationships, or expose sides of yourself you'd rather not confront?
Here is a challenge: the next time you find yourself lamenting a particular circumstance in your life, try this thought on for size:
"This is absolutely perfect, and exactly what I wanted."
It may seem ridiculous to say this to yourself when your boss has just reamed you out, or your partner is being distant, or the bills keep piling up. But I urge you to try it, and then look for any shred of evidence that it might be true.
Ask yourself: what does this shitty circumstance allow me to do or think or tell myself, that I secretly -- perhaps even perversely -- enjoy?
If you try this sincerely and can't identify a single thing, you're not trying hard enough.
And if you try and discover that you do find something -- congratulations, for this is the key to your liberation.
Here's the thing: When you give yourself the permission to acknowledge your own shadow, you reclaim the power it once had over you.
Rather than allowing it to exist "over there," where it pulls the strings outside your conscious awareness and leaves you feeling like a perpetual victim, you instead take ownership of and integrate its dark power under the umbrella of your conscious agency, choice and control.
When you can invite your darkness to co-exist alongside the rest of your glorious light-filled self, you become an infinitely more powerful and influential being.
And you become far more capable of creating the circumstances that your WHOLE, integrated self, really, truly wants.