There can a part of us that we smile at and favouritise and another part of us that we’re not so happy with. Perhaps we take great pride in being a good cook, a doting partner, or a solid worker. And then there’s that other part of us; maybe we are disatisfied with a part of our body, a part of our personality or that we are unable to achieve the tasks or goals that we set for ourselves. In short, the majority of us all have our own Jekyll and Hyde.
My ‘Mr Hyde’ is anger. Specifically, getting angry at myself for feeling angry. I have spent my life observing behaviours (my earliest memory of doing so is since I was 3), and I found anger disgusting. Anger is dangerous. It is one of the most dangerous weapons that each man is armed with and we all pull the trigger from time to time – some of us with little thought of the impact. I have seen the tears anger can cause – to the owner and their recipient. Beyond tears, I observed the damage it would cause to those around it. Whilst anger can be like people shooting guns at each other, the atmosphere it can create is like one of toxic gas. Anyone in the vicinity will be damaged by it. So I saw this in a variety of places and situations, and then grew angry at myself whenever I became angry, which was worse than only being angry at the initial situation.
I knew the damage that could be caused, so why did I get angry at things? Why was I (and still occasionally am) prone to shouting and yelling about things or act in a defensive state towards people? I should have known better, or so I thought. And so I would get really angry at myself for being angry. I would imagine the pain of any recipient of my anger, and mentally punish myself ten times worse than I had shouted at them or than they would punish me. I would spend days, weeks and months mulching over my poor behaviour. I’d want to lock that part of me away or cut it out.
But if you’ve read Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, you will know that in attempting to destroy the evil part of himself, Dr Jekyll unleashes the evil Mr Hyde. The very part of himself that Jekyll found so grotesque takes hold over him. Hyde is in his element. Victorious.
That’s the very real problem about trying to lock away or cut out the part of you that you dislike. If you don’t deal with it appropriately, it mounts up into a large, unaddressed problem that either bursts or becomes very lengthy to solve. In my case, it was a standard bottle up and blow like a volcano scenario. But as I had silent anger and resentment towards myself, my self-esteem took a serious nose-dive.
Due to how low my self-esteem became, I was forced to address my issue. I was forced to stare at both parts of myself – the part I was proud of and the part I liked – and learn to balance them. The effects of mental strain caused me to be physically dehibilitated, manifesting into strain within my body. If I didn’t act fast, I’d become ill in all senses.
The results of my assessment were a shock to me. Firstly, that ‘pride’ I held in the things that I deemed successful or positive actually transpired to be the primary cause of my weakness – the cause of my anger. Pride by default requires ego. I was proud of my successes and vast interests and the fact that I mostly put 100% effort into everything that I do. This meant that when someone might comment their opinion on how I should improve or that in their view I should have approached things in another way, I became highly defensive or offended. How could it be that I, who had placed 100% effort into something, should get negative feedback? Did others not see the effort that I placed in, that I bent over backwards, that I never do things by halves?
I then realised how dangerous my pride actually was. It was the root cause of my anger; my ego was turning me blind to others constructive criticism and causing me to clam up and stop growing as a person. So I let it go. Well, most of it (still working on it 🙂 ). Ridding yourself of ego is a tricky business!
The result is that my worry and strife has greatly reduced. Even though I was below the age of 30, I used to experience intense pains in my chest and sternum due to the anger I held inside. I would suppress it all there and have no doubts that had I not addressed my issues, some point down the line my heart would have said ‘quit with exerting so much strain on me, I can’t take this anymore’. We need to not only observe our thoughts, but listen to what our bodies are telling us.
Do you have a Jekkyl and Hyde? Whatever they may be, the key to resolving personal conflict is to observe why you’re denying an aspect of yourself and to slowly grow your understanding of yourself. It is important to accept the ‘bad’ as well as the ‘good’ and begin the path to self forgiveness and learning.
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