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Make Peace with Your Unlived Life

https://hbr.org/2016/12/make-peace-with-your-unlived-life

hbr.org

Make Peace with Your Unlived Life
We all contain multitudes.

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The true self and the shadow self

The true self and the shadow self

The idea of a "true self" and a "false or shadow self" has long preoccupied psychologists.

  • Carl Jung viewed the "shadow self" as our unknown, dark side. Jung believed that unless we come to terms with our shadow side, we will become its victim.
  • Similarly, psychologist Erik Erikson introduced the idea of the identity crisis. He said that identity formation has a dark and negative side, and in the process of becoming an adult, these negatives attract you. You have to integrate it into your sense of identity.
  • Donald Winnicott developed the idea further of the "true self" and "false self." He explained that we develop a defensive structure from a young age that may turn into a "false self." Later we will hide or deny our "true self."

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Identity exploration

The journey of identity exploration often begins at adolescence.

Some people always do what others think is a good idea for them. Only later on in life, they will start to think that they never really pursued their own ideals, but the desires of others. It can become draining and contribute to life choices that don't accommodate their real needs.

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The unlived life

A person may experience a delayed identity crisis, but it may contain seeds of psychological renewal - the motivation to move into new directions in life.

Instead of ignoring these parts, accept the unlived parts of yourself and learn to read the messages that are contained in it. In doing so, you may discover all sorts of creative and positive ideas, ready to come to light.

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The Persona

In a public situation, we present a different version of ourselves than from the one at home. Every profession has unspoken agreements about which manners are acceptable, and which are not....

The Shadow

The 'shadow self' is everything a person has denied in themselves, such as spontaneity, aggression, cowardice, carelessness, passion, enthusiasm. It embraces all the thoughts and moods for which we feel guilt and shame.

The shadow is emotional, for it must oppose the rigidness of the ego. It is prone to psychological projection, where we attribute to others the inferior qualities we do not want to admit are in ourselves. When we perceive a moral deficiency in others, we can be sure there is similar inferiority within ourselves. If we take note of our resentment towards ourselves and others, we have the opportunity to bring the shadow into consciousness.

Anima/Animus

  • Jung believed that inside the shadow are the qualities of our opposite gender. The anima expresses the feminine qualities within a man, and the animus indicates the masculine qualities within women.
  • Jung presented the concepts of the anima and animus as the archetypes of Eros and Logos. Eros (the female) is identified with receptivity, creativity, relationships, and wholeness. Logos (the male) is associated with power, thought, and action.
  • The archetypes of the anima/animus have their own autonomy, and are independent from our conscious mind.

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Our inner 'demons'

Our inner Demons, or inner voices, make us do irrational, stupid and selfish things, based out of fear.

We hide and distract ourselves from our inner voice, which is nothing but our fear and ...

Our common negative parts

Some of our common 'demons' are:

  • Procrastination
  • Laziness
  • Self-loathing
  • Comparing yourself with your peers, leading to envy
  • Loser mentality.

The downward spiral

Our inner demons lead us to negatively judge ourselves, further leading to avoiding that judgment, and eventually starting the internal self-destruction, if the negative downward spiral is left unchecked.

Network Effects

Network effects are the unseen forces that are guiding our destiny and exerting a powerful intervention on our lives, creating energy that escorts us down a path that is not always fully our intent...

Zipf's Law

Zipf's law is a mathematical probability that states that in a given set, the most frequently used data value (or word) is used twice as often as the next most common value. This is true in various statistical sets like income distribution in companies, internet traffic, phone calls received, and language.

One of the implications of this law is there are unconscious network forces and mathematical patterns governing our lives, with human beings just being nodes exchanging information.

Dinner Party Mathematics

When six to eight people are conversing at a dinner party, it is easy to focus on one conversation, but if the number is higher (say 15), then two-way conversations are more likely.

When groups get larger, the change is exponential, not linear, affecting one's social experience.