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Dec 24, 2014

Acknowledging Weakness While Building Strength

In addressing my tendencies toward shame and “over-responsibility”, I’ve made some discoveries that are starting to alter my life on a brand new level. One of these discoveries happened recently on the way to the gym one morning. Since mornings tend to be one of my most vulnerable times of the day (driving tends to also be one of my most vulnerable times for anxiety due to the monotony of route and forced solitude), I found myself experiencing the weight of my thoughts in a way that was creating unnecessary internal tension. Thankfully, I had one of my epiphany-like moments that tend to bring clarity to certain distressing situations. The discovery I had went like this: stop trying to focus on ridding yourself of the “bad” in your life; focus on building the “good” instead. 

In pondering this new clarity on how to situate my thoughts, I understand how much my attempts in trying to “fight” or “fix” my perceived faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, etc., actually make things much worse. I am beginning to understand that when I attempt to “fight” or fix” my anger, my jealousy, my insecurities, my racing thoughts and my fear, I WILL LOSE every time. These issues will only gain power by the simple fact that I am choosing to focus on them. In my illusion of “fixing” I am actually fueling….fueling my focus on “what is wrong with me” versus how I can continually evolve and discover life as a human being. 

In his work, psychologist Carl Jung talks about the idea of the “shadow” and the role that the shadow plays in our lives. This “shadow” is the many times unfulfilled, unacknowledged, animalistic aspects of who we are that are generally not acceptable in the realm of functioning society, but nonetheless exist within all of us. Jung talks about the importance of acknowledging the shadow and incorporating it into our lives in ways that create a sense of wholeness and bring a more multidimensional feel to our existence. In Debbie Ford’s book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers she discusses how integral the shadow can be and how many good qualities can come from it if we are willing to acknowledge it. 

I mentioned in my previous piece what I learned regarding the importance of building the muscles around an injured area of the body so as to support and heal the injury. The same is true for our thoughts and perceptions of who we are and what we are about. I liken the understanding I received about shifting my focus away from “fixing” and toward “building” to our bodies’ immune systems. If I focus on building my health via good diet and consistent exercise, I lessen the chances that illness and disease can survive in my body. Sickness cannot usually thrive in a body infiltrated with health. If I only focus on “fixing the sickness” while putting less emphasis on building health, I am not creating long term solutions. James Allen in As a Man Thinketh talks about a gluttonous man who spends loads of money trying to get well while refusing to change his lifestyle. The man has no problem spending money on “cures” for his ailments but won’t fill his body with the beautiful necessities that will promote well-being. The same is true for psychological, emotional and spiritual health. If I try to address only my “ailments” without infusing myself with truth, love and beauty, I will only go in circles. 

Fighting my “woes” is a losing battle. In essence, I have little to no control over this. Thankfully what I DO have complete control over is feeding myself with positivity and strength. I am beginning to understand the importance of acknowledging and honoring my weaknesses, learned survival mechanisms, pain and shortcomings while also strengthening what is right, healthy and good in me. I am learning to recognize the “shadow” as something that is real but also something that does not control me and can be useful for me if I seek to understand it. Socrates the philosopher stated, “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

 

by Aimee Dassele

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