Good Girl/Bad Girl—the Shadow Self
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the shadow side that has come sharply into the light on a national and global scale (you can read about it here). Today I want to share a little of my own shadow story.
I am a recovering good girl.
No, more accurately, I am a recovered good girl.
I spent the first 30 or so years of my life doing my very best to be my very best for EVERYONE. I was Nice (with a capital “N”), I was sweet, I kept my opinions to myself and generally, people liked me…although, no one really knew me.
Also, I was disciplined and self-controlled. I had to be to keep my emotions tucked in so tightly.
Honestly, I don’t know what happened around the time I hit 30 that caused my good girl pendulum to take a mighty swing to the dark side.
The shadow of my sweetheart self was not nice and she was not disciplined.
Was there a particular trigger? Maybe. I think it’s more likely that I just reached my threshold of people pleasing. I was DONE allowing people to walk all over me and take advantage of my easy-going nature. As a good girl, I wasn’t taken seriously. And I am serious.
Over a relatively short period of time—maybe 2 years or so—I went from being pretty passive to pushing the edges of aggression. I embraced my inner Bitch (with a capital “B”).
This switch from sweet to *sassy with swagger* was a bit of a shock to some of the people in my life, but there were a lot of benefits: 1) I was respected more at work—not liked more, but respected more, 2) intimidation definitely yielded results in my professional life as a manager (my “numbers” looked really good”), and 3) I felt a little high on my own power.
Of course, of course, of course…there were a few little problems that accompanied my personality shift. I was outspoken to the point of rudeness, impulsive, took uncalculated risks, and put people off with my irritability and insensitivity.
Ha. Thankfully, this happened many years before I was a therapist—THAT would not have gone over well.
Truthfully, it was a little like a hypomanic episode (a.k.a. “manic light”—not a full-blown manic experience, but with a lot of the same qualities though diffused). There was a lot of energy—which felt great—but the energy was pretty hostile—which did not feel great at all.
The point of this story??
Many years later, I think I fall somewhere in the middle of passive and aggressive (without being passive-aggressive, dear God) and hang out mostly in the realm of assertive. BUT I’m pretty sure I could not have moved from passive to assertive without spending some time exploring my repressed anger which manifested as aggression.
I had to see my shadow side—the side of me that I wanted to stuff down and keep secret—in order to evolve from the representative I was sending out into the world (the side of me I was comfortable with people seeing) to a more authentic version of myself. Warts and all.
We all go through processes like these—both individually and collectively. The pendulum swings, it swings too far, and then it comes to a beautiful state of balance…until it happens again.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Have you gone through a process like this personally? Or witnessed it in another person, or in an organization, or in a country? Always love to hear your thoughts...you can comment or question on FB or via email.