My Alter Ego Asks: Do You Avoid Pain At The Expense Of Your Goals?

Are you unnecessarily preoccupied with avoiding pain, so much so that your goals, ideals and personal integrity is at stake?

I wonder if you do, Hailey. Really, this thought consumed me to the extent that I had to pen you this letter. Kindly read on to get the message I’m trying to pass across.

I observed that in life there are necessary pains you have to undergo in order to attain your goals. Oops, did I just use the phrase have to? Pardon the slip of my quill pen. Back to what I was trying to say, here’s a dialogue that may better explain what I mean.

Mother: Hailey, I want you to sweep the sitting room, take out the trash, scrub the bathroom and go for your evening stroll to Osiris Hotel today.

Hailey: How am I supposed to do all that, Mum? I am trying to have more energy and here you are, making me do so much work.

Mother: Let me give you some friendly advice. A man who is trying to feel the feelings of accomplishment you want to feel from knowing he does things that require a lot of energy does what?

Hailey: Obviously, he will put himself in situations that require him to expend energy, even though it may be inconvenient.

Mother: There you have it! So be a Darling and do what I asked you to do, OK?

From this simple dialogue, you can better get what I’m trying to say, right?

There is one thing within us all that makes it hard for people to achieve their goals. It is known as Shadow self in Jungian psychology. Before you groan at this Alter Ego of mine that loves using highly technical words, I will explain what the shadow self means.

The shadow self is that part of us all that harbours our weaknesses, faults, inadequacies, vices and yes, the things we admire in others we think we lack. We all, including myself have faults we would rather deny because it seems too horrible to contemplate.

School, society, and religion make it hard for us to accept we even have this part of ourselves because it can be really awful for us to express it. So what do we do? We repress this part and when we see a person who acts out the shadow self, we criticize him.

In reality, we are just projecting that part of ourselves–be it vindictiveness–onto the other person and saying he is vindictive. Of course, this criticizing and condemning others makes it hard to live in harmony with fellow humans, added to the fact that our projections hinder us from seeing how we can channel our strengths in a different direction.

What do I advise you to do, Hailey? I want you to mindfully accept that for everything you have worried about, worried that people are saying about you, you are actually projecting your shadow self onto them! Not only that, you are worried because you have attached a great deal of guilt and shame to these things you think people say about you.

Consider: would it bother you if you found out people in your neighbourhood discuss the colours of clothes you wear? Or your writing abilities? Even the fact that you graduated from College with a good grade? It is because of the feelings of pride you attach to these facts you are unruffled.

The next thing is to tell yourself that this perceived vices you see are a part of you, your shadow self and they make you human. Give yourself permission to have faults, weaknesses, and vices–they make you who you are. I must warn you that at first, it might seem too frightening for you to admit that you have nastiness in you, but your ability to tune into this pain will make you stronger.

What do you mean by that statement? Remember you once told me you want to be a courageous person. By that, you meant the ability to face pain, threat, fear without shrinking from it. Did you know that your ability to face your shadow self, the pain of knowing that these faults are in you will make you better able to live up to your concept of courage?

I’m also giving you the permission to harbour these faults within you and not try to overcome them. I know that sounds contrary to all what you have been taught but remember this: no one, not even you needs to be perfect, without flaws!

What an audacious assertion to make! Yes, because I once told you that the secret to a virtue is that a vice is almost always hidden inside. You can reverse that statement to read that the secret to a vice is that a virtue is almost always hidden inside! How? Stay with me here.

Remember I pointed out your nastiness? Sometimes it is actually a strength, in that it helps you keep away certain types of people who are too dense to understand polite refusals and rejection. Like the time you told a parasite that you really don’t care about his problems, especially as he doesn’t make use of your helpful advice. From that, you can see how you were able to redefine your association with him.

Another reason I told you to not try to overcome your weaknesses is because it gives you the impression that there are hostile forces within you. You then have an unhealthy relationship with yourself, and with others. In that people seek to exercise power over you.

Ah, I guess you read that article I sent you on habitual responses to authority. The writer spoke of a concept called power with, not power over. I took that to mean you can work hand-in-hand with these weaknesses in you, instead of trying to overcome them.

This will help you tune into your pain better as you know it is there to make you stronger and help you in the attainment of your goals. Because the confidence that comes from knowing I don’t take no for an answer, even when it sometimes gets on people’s nerves has helped you develop amazing powers of persuasion and negotiation.

Shadow self
Our shadow self can be our greatest asset in the attainment of our goals–or also our greatest hindrance when we refuse to accept it. This makes it become our personality!

Imagine if you tried to fight this weakness because people told you, Hailey, you’re such a pest! Why don’t you ever take No for an answer? Would you have attained the amazing powers of negotiation and persuasion that now help you in the world of finance?

You might probably be wondering that wanting to seek out the necessary pain in the attainment of your goals will make more pain come your way and turn you into a masochist. I’m here to tell you that it won’t. Why? Because there are so many instances in life–your work, relationships, physical health, memory retention–that you can achieve so much pride and satisfaction from when you tune into your shadow self.

In these instances, your shadow self is exhibiting laziness and cowardice, thus making it very hard for you to see that to earn that $10 000 minimum account balance, you will have to accept the fact that there will sometimes be long hours, tight deadlines, giving up some of your social engagements, and other things.

Your shadow self is also making it hard for you to understand that in relationships, there will sometimes be friction, disappointment (when your partner doesn’t do as you wish), and the fear that your partner may leave you or cheat on you!

When you tune into this laziness and cowardice of your shadow self, power with it instead of trying to overcome it you will feel more motivated to work, tackle those inconveniences that come with the territory you will find clever ways of preventing, minimizing, and tackling those inconveniences when they occur.

You will also feel the pride and accomplishment that comes from knowing that Hailey has her minimum account balance of $10 000 from working with well-paying multinational companies. And Hailey feels the pride from knowing she was courageous enough to marry a handsome man, have him as a support by her side, despite the fact he is a babe-magnet and other women would be too scared to marry a man in the public eye!

Do you still doubt me? I’ll leave you with the words of Albert Einstein, who achieved a lot in his lifetime: The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe!

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