“We stopped looking for monsters under the bed when we realized they were inside of us.” – Jordyn Berner
Freud was a big believer in making the unconscious, conscious. His younger colleague, Carl Jung, further developed the concept and has since become one of the prominent figures in “shadow” work.
The idea of a ‘dark side’ or a ‘darker side’ is not necessarily unfamiliar territory for many us. Consider anger, anger is often attributed as being a dark or negative feeling.
But is it?
When we strip the emotions of the cultural and societal stigmas and judgement; i.e, learned responses, what defines what is a good feeling and what is bad feeling?
Anger can be productive. It can be even be enlightening. When channeled towards a good purpose, anger could easily be mistaken for passion, determination and/or ambition And surely, those emotions are not negative. It is good to be passionate; recommended, even. But even passion could be ‘bad’ — what if you are passionate for the wrong thing. Or the wrong person.
The question then becomes what is good and what is bad? How do we define each? Are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mere opinions? Judgements based on our preconceived notions of right and wrongdoing?
In the legal context, right and wrong are established by laws, but even laws change. Killing is wrong, but if in self-defense, is it right? We punish those who act outside of what society, religious leaders and politicians have decided as right; but who informed their judgement? We continue to judge those who behave outside what we have learned to accept as normal, but who are we to judge? Could it not be that our own judgements are ill-informed and wrong?
I have obsessed over the idea of a dark side and light side for years, there are qualities, characteristics and feelings which I have attributed to my dark side; I call him Mr. Hyde, but even in that recognition, it is clear I have categorized qualities resembling those embodied by the character in the novel as ‘Mr. Hyde’-like. What is this need to categorize?
What, or who, have we missed out on because our preconceived notions of good and bad suggested that they were bad people? Because their philosophy didn’t coincide with ours? Their life path differed from ours? Their upbringing reflected values different than ours?
“She reacted differently (to me)” Bad.
“I wouldn’t have reacted like that.” Dismissive.
Granted these are grand conclusions from particular examples, but it almost begs the question whether ‘different’ (to me/what I know) is what we have come to define as bad?
Something to think about: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi.