You’ve probably noticed it on social media outlets such as Facebook.  It is mostly a very positive outlet with people posting their best pictures and sharing their good times.  It’s become a great way for people to share with others what they are enjoying. (I do think that it’s fine to be proud of what you have in your life and I’m simply using social media as an example).  Sometimes these posts and updates can serve as reminders of what we don’t have, what we’d rather be doing, and maybe even what we’d like to be. To some degree, Facebook is just a an example of what can go on inside all of us.   The want to become our ideal selves and the want to transcend the darker sides of who we are.

Most people aren’t posting their worst moments captured on film or video and posting it online.  You’re not seeing the arguments, the meltdowns, or the insecurities (for the most part).  I’m certainly not an advocate of that, by the way, but there is a lot to be said about why we do the things we do.  What we see on social media is a projection of what we want others to see.  We’re putting our best out there.  This isn’t just happening on Facebook, either.  We do this habitually everyday to varying degrees.

Most of what we learn to be socially acceptable we pick up at a young age.  We might have been taught to “be happy”, “put a smile on”, “be outgoing” or to only show the sides of ourselves that are socially acceptable.   As adults, many people spend a lot of time and energy projecting their preferred selves into their environments.   We want to fit in even as we did as kids.  We still want to be accepted.  That part of us we don’t like?  Selfishness?  Laziness?  Being moody? Over reactive? We reject those sides of us as much as we can.

The problem with rejecting the “negative” sides of ourselves is that we are also stifling some of our “good” traits with it.  Maybe we’ve been told that we shouldn’t “display our talents in front of others who aren’t as good” because that’s “bragging” and being “self absorbed”.  It’s possible, for example, that we don’t allow ourselves to make time doing the things we love to do because if we do we’re being “selfish” with our time.  When we were kids maybe our high levels of energy and aversion to sitting in one place for hours at a time was criticized.  We were called “unfocused”, given a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, and also labeled “non-conforming” or “disruptive”.  We’ve effectively been taught that parts of our true nature are not acceptable.

The reality is that none of our traits go anywhere.  Even the ones we don’t like.  At some point we’re forced to deal with them.  Sometimes if not recognized those unwanted parts of us can manifest in destructive and chaotic ways.

yin and yang

It’s important to recognize our “bad” with our “good”.  It’s part of who we are.  More importantly we can learn from our “negative” aspects and traits.  However, if we completely shut off those sides of us we deem undesirable, we lose that opportunity to grow.  Allowing the self to see what is there tends to be a better option than to seek what the self does not possess.

“The educated man tries to repress the inferior man in himself, not realizing that by so doing he forces the latter into revolt.”

“We cannot change anything until we accept it.  Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

(Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung)