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COLUMN: Embracing the good, bad and ugly

Tanya Ryan's monthly column #LightSideUp
Tanya Ryan 2
Tanya Ryan, Light Side Up

A little while ago I joined a book club with a few amazing women.

We decided to read Women Who Run with the Wolves. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a book that was published in 1989 whose themes have remained relevant, most specifically to women, throughout the years.

The author presents various folklore, legends, myths, and stories and breaks apart the metaphors in each to unearth various symbolism and wisdom that we, as women, can benefit from or perhaps feel validated by. And then, it seems to me, the author’s intention is for us to take this new awareness and navigate our lives with more grace, confidence and respect for self.

As I was reading the final chapter, it talked about the various aspects of ourselves - the parts we lead with: our talents, skills, and gifts; as well as the darker or hidden sides of ourselves: our flaws, perceived shortcomings, or toxic traits. And the spectrum of grey shades between.

Something that I considered as I reviewed the final chapter was how we have a tendency to hide aspects of ourselves, especially that which we deem to be unflattering, or unwelcome in society. But I wonder if there’s a certain and specific power that is available to us, when we are able to integrate all aspects of the self — including the ugly parts.

I’m sure this isn’t a new concept to most people — I think I may have even written a previous article stating something similar — but reading the final chapter in the book gave me a slightly nuanced perspective.

What if one of the reasons we deny all the various aspects of self, and the darker or shadow aspects of self -isn’t simply because they’re not socially acceptable, or ugly… but what if it’s because our greatest power lies within those shadow aspects of self? And the real reason we avoid these aspects of ourselves is actually that we are intimidated by our own potential.

I’m a firm believer that no quality exists within us without its equal and opposite. If we were to embrace the dark aspects of ourselves fully and completely then we would become this whole, powerful, magical version of ourselves. And perhaps the idea of being this huge, bright, amazing being is just a bit too much for us.

In theory everyone would be lining up to be their best self, right? We all want the glory that life has to offer, but perhaps our subconscious narrative is trumping our conscious desires. If it weren’t then none of us would ever face any challenges around starting new habits or breaking old, unfavourable ones. Self-sabotage wouldn’t exist.

I might’ve dove a little too deep into this and I only have 500 or so words to try and get my point across. So let me summarize it in this way…

If we all worked at seeing, accepting, and embracing the parts of ourselves that are unflattering, dark, ugly, unacceptable we might make it that much easier to encompass the entire dynamic human being that we are. And perhaps our goals and ambitions would not feel so far away.

They would be completely and easily attainable with this new, complete version of self.

Not only is it OK to become aware of, and accept the ugly parts of ourselves it’s imperative that we do, if we desire fulfilment and a rich life experience.

Face the dark aspects of self and get one step closer to learning what your true and limitless potential really is.