We have all heard the expression “Keeping up with the Joneses.”


The expression implies comparing yourself to your neighbors as a benchmark for social class.  This saying is generally associated with the material aspect of your life; however, we also benchmark the mental characteristics of our lives as well.  We have a tendency to put our best front forward and not allow the perceived “negative” aspects of our lives to be viewed by others.
I am sure that you are similar to me (and many others); trying your very best to show up as the best possible version of yourself, so much so, that you begin to suppress facets of yourself or hush certain undesirable emotions that you believe are not ideal or accepted by society. Mentally, you are trying to keep up with the Joneses; the perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect family, perfect friends, perfect career, and the list goes on – all smiles and zero problems!  Unfortunately, for the vast majority of us, this is not a realistic expectation of life.  We allow the aesthetically unpleasing aspects of our lives to lurk in the shadows; desperately trying to conceal them.  We present the life we want people to see and not our true authentic selves.
Your shadow-self begins in the unconscious mind and gradually builds over time – the hidden, repressed, unpleasant, uncomfortable emotions and qualities we discreetly tuck away from society. The more you suppress, the greater your shadow grows, and the more powerful it becomes. Over time, your shadow-self becomes your inner villain, showing up from time to time, sabotaging your goals and wreaking havoc in your life.  What most of us fail to recognize, however, is that we end up creating more pain by trying to avoid the pain. Like the moon that wanes back to new, we cycle in and out of pain and painful experiences. The more energy we expend on denying our shadow, the more power we are actually handing over and, ultimately, the shadow blocks us from reaching our fullest potential.


Have you ever watched a movie or read a book when you catch yourself sympathizing with the villain?


We are all familiar with the archenemy of Batman – the Joker.  The Joker is portrayed as the bad guy and not the type of person many of us strive to be.  He is a criminal mastermind with a warped, sadistic sense of humor.  But, did you know that the Joker originally worked as an honest lab assistant that was struggling to financially support his pregnant wife? To better provide for his family, he attempts to become a stand-up comedian. The Joker fails at becoming a comedian and succumbs to the mounting pressures surrounding him by agreeing to help a group of mobsters with a robbery. This fateful decision is the beginning of his long life of corruption. This, combined with the trauma of his wife’s accidental death, causes him to spiral out of control and become what we know as the crazed Joker.  Understanding the set of circumstances surrounding the Joker’s decisions that led him down a destructive life of crime allows us to sympathize and have compassion for the Joker.  It also gives us some insight as to why he is the way he is. He is no longer simply a villain, he is complex – just like you and just like me.  Everyone can relate to a time when our inner “bad guy” has shown up and we have, regretfully, made choices that sabotage relationships, careers, etc. Many of us are like the Joker, we hide the pressures of life until they reach a boiling point and begin to run our lives and impact the decisions we make.  Fortunately for us, there are tools available to help bring light to our shadows – to integrate all aspects of ourselves so we can apply these different personas appropriately in different contexts.
Your life needs to be balanced and harmonious – to be whole; welcoming the good and the bad, and everything in between.  Confronting the shadow and taking corrective actions needed to shed light into the darkness is the only way to restore mental and emotional harmony and bring your truest self forward. This term is called “integrating the shadow“.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung.

I invite you to welcome your shadow side

Life is multifaceted, so embrace the good with the bad and allow yourself to fully experience from all angles. Confront your shadow head on to make substantial changes throughout your life.  This will lead to a greater awakening and grant you emotional freedom.  We all have a Joker living inside of us and, it is important to embrace your whole self, not just the ideal traits –  by doing so you are essentially denying a part of yourself. You sympathized with the Joker, now offer yourself the same compassion.

Learn more about Tris’s 12-week course on Integrating the Shadow