Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Coming to terms with our dark side

Posted on June 07, 2011 by jimparedes

Lately, I’ve been attending cocktail parties, seminars and meeting new people where there is always an exchange of calling cards. I always end up apologizing because I have stopped bringing calling cards.

For one thing, I have no idea what to put after my name. I do too many things and listing all of them could make me seem like a jack-of-all-trades. Or it may seem like I am bragging about the many things I do. Or worse, it may even be misread as a sign of latent schizophrenia. (I am joking.)

Many years ago, my calling card had the following titles: “Producer, recording artist, song writer and wonderful human being.” I liked the last title best.

In truth we are many things. I am a son, a brother, father, husband, neighbor, Atenean, classmate, Filipino, migrant, musician, songwriter, singer/performer, writer, columnist, photographer, workshop facilitator, teacher, Globe user, blood type “O” donor, right-handed, and a host of many other identities.

Some people carry a single title all of their lives, such as Doctor Cruz, Father Santos, Professor De los Reyes, Attorney Camua, General Abueva, Architect Mabanta, etc., making it seem that only one thing defines them, above everything else that they also are. It is a choice people make. It shows the importance they place in the career or the calling they have chosen.

According to Carolyn Myss in her book Sacred Contracts, each person has about 13 dominant identities that represent him or her at any specific time in his or her life, even if their importance is hierarchical. In my case, among the many identities I have, perhaps “artist” is the most dominant, and husband, father, and the rest cascade down in the order of importance. This hierarchy is determined by how often these identities speak for me in the world I inhabit.

Myss says these characters or archetypes (to use Carl Jung’s terminology) are not all permanently with us. Some stay long, some only for a while, and when they leave, new ones come along ready to express aspects of ourselves that want to be heard.

Think about that for a moment. Consider these as aspects possessing an energy that must play out. Some energies may feel nice, and proper, and politically correct, and they are easy — an honor even — to introduce to the world. For example, a rich doctor does missionary work and he is hailed in his society as a philanthropist — a new identity.

But there are more complex, dark aspects of us that also express themselves in energies. Often, when they make themselves known to us, we are not ready to accept them. In fact, we shun them because they are not easily acceptable to society. These energies may come from our inner dungeons where we harbor our dark side, our more taboo aspects, such as sexual or psycho-spiritual energies that run counter to our public persona.

And here’s the tricky part: both Carolyn Myss and Carl Jung say that whatever these energies are, they must be allowed to speak because they are part of us. We cannot and must not deny parts of ourselves. Energy, being what it is, will find a way to express itself, whether sanctioned or not.

But how do we handle this? Do we dare allow, say, our sexual energies to play out freely? The straightforward answer is “yes,” but not in a way that will cause harm to anyone including ourselves. We must find the right way to do it.

First, we must acknowledge them. When we come to terms with their presence, they begin to appear less scary to us since they have been recognized. We may even befriend and begin to tame them. Joseph Campbell puts it well when he says, “The devil that you swallow gives you its power.” Our shadows do bear gifts. It is when they are shunned or denied that they behave scandalously.

Consider some famous and seemingly successful people who are caught doing crazy things like shoplifting. And the recent case of the former IMF head Strauss-Kahn, a powerful man held in such high esteem he was predicted to be the next president of France, who allegedly sexually attacked the cleaning woman in his hotel room. From a rational point of view, one would argue that these actions were totally stupid and inexplicable. I bet not even he could explain to himself such a moment of irrationality that took over him. I imagine that if he had been attuned and in conversation with his shadow self, there would have been less likelihood of this happening.

The next step in dealing with shadow energy is to find a way to express it so that it will give you its gifts. Sexual energy can express itself in aesthetic endeavors such as painting, photography, sculpture, dance, etc. This way, lust is transformed into an artistic drive, or even a muse or inspiration. It can also express itself as a newly bloomed charisma or passion for living. The energy is converted into something positive and even creative.

The act of recognizing that we have a shadow side opens us to greater understanding of others. A lot of us cannot imagine our parents, or some people we look up to, as being less than perfect, or even as sexual beings. While we may accept intellectually what they really are, many times, we would rather not “know.” Until we come to an acceptance of our own selves.

I have met a lot of people who stonewall or outwardly reject their offbeat energies, or “callings.” Some react with a siege mentality by “protecting” themselves with a religious morality instead of understanding that these energies are actually calling for them to grow further. At times, these archetypes demand that we live in a way that makes us truer to ourselves. And that can be scary.

We hear of the “perfect couple” that suddenly calls it quits, the pious priest who leaves his order or even the priesthood itself, or the old bachelor who suddenly comes out of the closet. Once in a while, it works the other way, where people we associate with negative qualities respond to positive energies.

I remember an ex-convict who used to be my pretty aunt’s bodyguard-chaperone when she was single. While he was a convicted rapist, he was very respectful and even protective of my aunt who trusted him completely.

Human beings are anything but simple, with both positive and negative forces within us. We must understand and harness these inner forces if we are to reach higher authenticity.

One of Carl Jung’s most quotable quotes is, “I’d rather be whole than good.” He understood that for him to be true or real, his actions may not always be sanctioned by society or be acceptable or congruent with prevailing norms or morals.

The gifted Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa said, “When dreaming, everyone is a genius.” Much of our creativity lies in our subconscious. When we dream, this creativity comes out to play. The trick is to allow more of the subconscious into our consciousness so we can live more creative lives.

When we do the inner work of knowing ourselves as much as we can, which means accepting and integrating all our aspects that show up, we allow more of what is possible in us to be creatively expressed. We become more tolerant and may even be more accepting and understanding of the changes we see happening in other people. We, and everyone else, become more real, multi-dimensional human beings.

* * *

Songwriting Workshop in QC on June 11. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. P5,000. Call Olie at 0916-8554303 or 426-5375 for all workshop inquiries. Or write me at ‘; document.write( ” ); document.write( addy_text66239 ); document.write( ‘<\/a>‘ ); //–> . Check http://jimparedes-workshops.com for details on all workshops.

3 to “Coming to terms with our dark side”

  1. Great post Jim, and the last paragraph is where the true magic lies. I whole heartedly concur!

  2. mstejedor says:

    i am always in awe with the perpectives you share. this post hit me in the gut.

  3. Bass Poet says:

    Hi Sir Jim,

    I do agree with you in this recent blog on “Coming to terms with our dark side”. All of us are multi-dimensional and diverse beings. We just cannot identify ourselves as one – I see myself one of many possibilities including my “dark side” I want to refer to my dark side as the dragons in my life – they breathe fire and sometimes I get burned by it. I used to try to slay my dragons and hopefully eliminate all of them – the thorns in my side. Now, as a better amd wise man, I befriended my dragons and douse them with water, danced with them and sometimes we go drinking together. I sounds insane but craziness is part of me, of who I am. Sometimes, taming my dragons is best way to live life, to see others as the same as me and to live life with the real presence of wholeness and enthuasiam. Peace to all and I hope this is making sense.

    Sincerely,

    Bass Poet



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