Why your dark side may be your greatest ally in creating the career and life you want
So much has happened in the past week in terms of coaching, travel and experiences. From discussing nuclear energy politics to leading Serious Play and Parallel Worlds group work to my own deep coaching experience in Austria (where I received some concentrated one-to-one attention for 3 days in a row) as well as having fun with friends and family, life feels full and joyful.
But coaching isn’t all positive thinking, affirmations and air punching. That’s a misconception.
Deep coaching catalyses a transformational process to help you take action towards a big vision by helping you become the person that matches up to the vision (rather than struggling your time away).
This is the real work. You can have it, if you’re willing to be the person who can receive it.
And this is where your dark side can help you. It’s a theme that’s been cropping up in conversations these last two weeks…
What’s your dark side?
Have you ever done something “good” and then felt resentful afterwards? Have you picked an argument for no good reason with a poor, unsuspecting friend, partner or stranger?
That’s your dark side claiming its dues…
Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa all had a big heart and knew deep inner-peace. But they were also fierce and took a firm stand for what they believed in.
This ferocity and courage (sometimes camouflaged under the more acceptable “assertiveness”) is underutilised in modern society. Look around you and you’ll see destructive explosions of anger/rage that require cleaning up or soul-crushing compromising to placate, people-please and avoid any confrontation. Neither of these are the optimal solution when you need to take a stand for yourself and what you know in your heart is right.
Both of these suboptimal solutions stem from a mismanaged dark side directed subconsciously externally at others or internally towards yourself. It’s the result of ineffective socialisation – albeit with the good intent of helping us get along and not kill each other…
Prevention is better than cure, so it’s important to check in with yourself on a regular basis and see if your difficult (or what you might call “dark”) emotions of anger, rage, sadness are activated and find the wisdom within them. Ignoring them or papering over them with distractions is what leads to the suboptimal manifestations of them, which will only lead to toxicity in your relationships and health.
So what can you do?
Acknowledge your dark side – it is part of you whether you like it or not so give it a nod
Accept your dark side – it is designed to protect you (even if it needs some taming) so don’t resist it by judging it and trying to get rid of it
Celebrate your dark side – it has enabled life to flourish on earth. You don’t need to join a heavy metal band or satanic cult but you can appreciate the beauty and stillness of a cold, dark winter night, the magnificence in the ferocity of a lion or perhaps the peace of a cemetery.
Work with your dark side – what is it trying to tell you? How can you hear the message and transform it into wise action or speech? (Again, this can only be done with regular maintenance work; you’ll struggle in the moment! Meditation, as usual, is a powerful prevention and harm reduction tool).
Express your dark side – let others see that you can get angry or sad in a conscious manner; and that you’re doing it to stand for what you believe is right. They will respect you for it. Those who don’t will eventually leave you alone. Bullies prey on those who feel powerless. With your dark side in hand, you will never be powerless.
In practice, this is how you create boundaries and, therefore, time and space to put your energy into what you care about (not what other people care about), and create the life and career that you want.
Have a great week,
p.s. The next Leaders Circle is planned for 6pm on the 29th of March. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry and we’ll create the world anew. I’ll send a registration link out soon. Join the priority list if you’re interested: http://eepurl.com/dhJeZ5.
Super stoked to be co-hosting this webinar on “Creating the Impossible” (i.e. taking action on dreams you think are too far - they are actually closer than you think…) with Cathy Presland under the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) banner and the RSA Coaching Network I set up in 2016. The RSA's mission is to nurture initiatives for 21st Century enlightenment and socially progressive entrepreneurship. The Coaching Network's mission is to support the RSA mission one coaching conversation at a time. Our live London events have been popular and the RSA is supporting us to broaden access and reach through this first online event.
Hope you can join us. It's sure to be fun and inspiring!
More info and registration here (n.b. times are UK):