We all have two sides to our personality. First, we have our persona, the side of our personality we present to the world which differentiates from the authentic self, the real person we are buried somewhere underneath a protective mask. What we present to the outside world is usually the ideal aspects of ourselves but we also have another side, the dark side. Originally the word persona meant wearing a mask and was worn by actors to indicate the role they were playing. In psychology the masks we wear in everyday life are protective coverings and an asset in mixing socially with other people. Think about how many times you have put on a happy face to please others when suffering inside you are in fact falling to bits and feel totally miserable or the times you have pretended to be confident when inside you are dying of embarrassment or shame wishing the ground would swallow you whole. Our civilized society relies on the persona for us to exist in harmony and interact with others.
When we strip off the mask, we discover the individual and not the collective psyche, the person who is being what it needs to be to fit in with the masses. An individual is someone who goes against the grain to be who they are authentically without feeling uncomfortable or compromised. The persona is not real. It is a compromise between individuality and collective society as to what we should appear to be. When we think about being an individual, we all have a name, a job, a function in society which makes us who we are but this is not real only a secondary reality, a compromise between who we pretend to be and who we really are deep down inside.
We must understand to be genuinely happy with who we are, we cannot get rid of ourselves in favour of a fake personality without ending up being punished mentally, creating unconscious reactions in the form of unhappy bad moods and actions, anxiety, lying and obsessive thoughts, the dark side. The socially strong you who in private is a shy child, suffering in silence, feeling anxious and concerned about what others think. Living a life like this, always pretending to be something you are not to please others is often the reason for depression and anxiety, eating disorders, suicide, and other negative mental health problems. The consequences of over identifying with a persona is, we lose sight of who we are without this protection. Our reactions and actions are predetermined by what we feel we should think and do. Our true inner neglected self, the person we would be if only we had the courage and the confidence to stand alone strong and determined, continues to suffer in silence as a shadow from our true reality.
Understanding what we do and how we feel in our unconscious nature is how we drive ourselves towards a wholeness, a complete authentic individual maintaining a healthy psychological balance in our lives. By understanding the dark side of ourselves, this pretend life we are compelled to suffer and often unconsciously following without question is the key to a more creative open life, led by the innermost authentic self. If you have been pushed towards doing a job you hate but had no choice because your parent wanted you to follow in their footsteps, instead of creating your own trail, then eventually this path will keep you dissatisfied until you die.
We often generally seek a quick fix for our problems and issues, wanting the easy route to heal our pain so our internal suffering is relived and we want this from an outside authority rather than looking inside ourselves for a solution, taking some personal responsibility ourselves. You can go to the doctor and get a pill for a headache but this does not work with psychological problems where you are obligated to take personal responsibility for your pain. What people want and what people need are two quite different things. You are happy to put your energy and money into what you value but are you prepared to put your time and energy into the most valuable thing you process, your mind, body, and soul?
Self-therapy is not just about improving yourself. It is not a sure quick prescription for making you a better person and will not protect you from the lashing of problems and issues in everyday life. It is an alternative to suffering in silence depression. Uncovering and developing the authentic you is about becoming conscious of who you are, including acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. Only you hold the key to unlocking and unleashing the patterns and habits you have set in stone that make you tick. It all begins by exploring your dark side, the unconscious auto-pilot behaviour, and moods you present to the world without thought.
Understanding who you really are is the key to understanding why you feel so miserable.
Once you become aware of your complex make up and begin to take back control of all you project on others, you begin to realize how vulnerable and out of control you really are. This is of course an incredibly difficult thing to experience but the sooner you face you are not being honest with yourself, the sooner you can live your experiential truth, accepting the consequences of every action you take.
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