It isn’t just Star Wars that has a dark side, we all do. Can you recognise the triggers that can flip you like a pancake from optimism to pessimism? Kind to mean, or outgoing to a hermit?

Depression and anxiety are just some examples of mind set or mood disorders that can cause you to lean heavily into the dark side, making it harder to access resources that would otherwise help to keep you in balance.

It’s not wrong to occasionally flip or be triggered, it can be a really good protective mechanism as well as providing opportunities for growth, but we shouldn’t live there. How we handle the balancing of our light/dark side is what counts.

Identify how you feel

If you can identify how you feel, when those feelings are negative towards ourselves or others, we can explore where that comes from and work on it. Often it’s pointing right at an unrealised goal or aspiration, or treatment that we ought not to be putting up with from others.

Exploring in this way and holding curiosity when a mood or trigger comes up can lead to many new roads to explore too.

Getting a handle on your dark side triggers can literally help you to see the light.

Dark side triggers

If for example one of your dark side triggers is feelings of inadequacy or not being good enough, and this gets triggered, let’s say you have a deadline at work and you feel under pressure or not clear, this can cause you to revert to dark side behaviours. This could mean you stomp about like a bear with a sore head, or you become hypercritical of other people and their work.

If you can learn to use mindfulness or CBT here and pause in the moment, you can recognise that you’ve been triggered and take a moment to bring yourself back into balance. Using counter factual thinking to improve and visualise future performance or behaviour also helps if you tend to be an over analyser.

Living authentically

When you are living authentically, or on your light or flourishing side, you can spot strengths in others, you know what your own needs are and you approach life from a compassionate state of being.

Conversely if you are activated from the shadow or dark side, you are seeing people critically, are self critical and seeing “what’s wrong” rather than what is going well. You might also feel excessive rage, or even hatred towards self or others.

As a regular practice, if you find yourself feeling critical, bitter or annoyed without specific reason, (if there is such a thing as a true specific reason) then that’s a good time to stop and check in with yourself to ask if you are functioning from the dark side.

Sometimes these behaviours tell us that we have unmet needs, so we aren’t being nourished. People often even refer to depression as being in a dark place.

The dark side and vulnerability

The dark side is also your vulnerability, or places that are wounded within us, so it can present its own challenges just to even acknowledge this. It also contains our core fears such as helplessness, rejection, abandonment and withdrawal of love or resources. According to Brene Brown not owning our vulnerability can also impact on health, another reason to work on it.

When we need to make changes in our lives in order to function well, these things that need to be addressed are sometimes pushed aside and go unrecognised. This can mean that we don’t reach resolution and remain stuck feeling unhappy or in a state of depression.

There are numerous reasons why we do this, from self protection to feelings of helplessness, but by addressing our needs with compassion, from a place of love, we begin to realise that not only can we change, but it doesn’t have to be the problem an anxious mind might have turned it into.

One secret to the good life is predominantly recognising the things that we find acceptable, the things that we enjoy and the things which feed our soul or psyche in a positive way. When we achieve this ability to check in or recognise, we begin to function from a place where we can flourish at our optimal state of ‘just being’ authentically.

I leave you with the question: how’s your dark side/light side balance looking?

About the author: To find out more about Caralyn Cox MAPP, please click here.

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‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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