Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"You want to be happy. There are more important things to do."

Isn't it interesting how the most confident, charming people you know are also the ones who most need reassurance?

In my Theories of Personality class, we just finished our unit on Carl Jung. What fascinated me most about Jung's theories is his concept of the Ego and the Shadow. The Ego is what we consciously recognize about ourselves -- often, how we define ourselves. The Shadow, on the other hand, is what we are, but only subconsciously. When traits are very strongly in the Ego, that usually means that the opposing trait is very strongly in the Shadow as well. People are made up of both Ego AND Shadow, and Jung theorized that when we stand between the two and make our choices, recognizing the pull of the other side, we are most psychologically healthy.

A brief example, just for understanding: A guy goes to a hockey game and in a dispute related to nothing more monumental than the game, kills another man. He never recognized the Shadow -- his ability to kill someone else -- and so the choice not to act on the Shadow impulse never came up until it was too late.

That said, the Shadow isn't necessarily bad. For example, a few of years ago, my Ego was a shy, reserved, quiet girl; my Shadow was a gregarious goofball. Somewhere along the way, the two have switched. On the inside, I AM a shy, hesitant person. I am! You'd never know that looking from the outside in, however, and I recognize that.

This leads me to the true point of this post...that perhaps the people whose company I crave, the people who are so clearly chatty and energetic, may also be the people who most need me to show them that I love them. In the same way that I am not so healthy, happy, and fulfilled as I may seem, perhaps my friends who seem to have it all figured out really don't.

This, then, is an invitation for me to take care of them, even when it doesn't seem like they're the ones who need to be taken care of. I'm best at pretending not to need help when I most want it; why would I assume that they're different?

It's also an invitation for me to think before I whine. I have lately wished that the men in my life were more consistent. Sometimes I feel like I'm riding a swing set, where "to" is when they are affectionate, attentive, and sweet, and "fro" is when I feel ignored, overlooked, and disconnected.

"I'm so mad at -----," I told Natalie recently. "He won't stop being nice to me!"

"How dare he!" Natalie quipped, trying not to roll her eyes. "Kick him in the shins!"

Of course I don't actually mind when men are nice to me. What bothers me in the inconsistency...that I enjoy the over-the-top niceness, but then I have to deal with being ignored. I'd much rather someone was moderately nice to me all the time.

But, as I also learned in my Personality class, there are more important things than being happy, such as (according to Adler) helping other people. I should probably stop worrying so much about how inconsistent other people are, and start taking a risk by being a consistent person for other people. The stress in our lives only exists when we consider it stressful...so maybe I should consider other people, and not think much of my stress at all.

Food for thought.

Hearing: Jennifer, talking about monthly Girls Night! :)
Feeling: wondering if I can actually do what I've just blogged about actually


  1. Lol, sorry I tend to be so snarky, but I'm glad it helped your epiphany along.

  2. I'm always grateful for your input, though I don't always realize how grateful I am at the time. Just ask Cindy. ;)