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  • Most people are afraid to fully be themselves.

  • They're afraid to embrace the parts of themselves that might be regarded as unacceptable,

  • because embracing these unacceptable parts makes them feel uncomfortable.

  • So to escape this uncomfortableness, they divide themselves into two halves: conscious and unconscious.

  • In the conscious-half, they construct an ideal image of themselves:

  • an image formed out of the bits and pieces of their past that they deem as good and acceptable.

  • And as result, in the unconscious-half, they repress the parts of themselves that they view as bad and unacceptable.

  • In Jungian psychology, this repressed part of the personality is called The Shadow.

  • And unless The Shadow is integrated into the personality, a person can never reach their fullest potential.

  • Instead, one will always remain incomplete, fractured, and partialliving a life of regret rather than the full life that could have been.

  • Imagine, for example, that I've solved a few equations and convinced myself that I'm a great mathematician.

  • I might meet a few friends and they tell me that they have a math club.

  • They gather every weekend and try to have a crack at math's most difficult problems.

  • This scares me, because if I join, I'll no longer get to be the 'great mathematician' that I've convinced myself I am.

  • Instead, I'll be a concrete person with actual strengths and weaknesses.

  • And in this scenario, there are two possible actions I can take.

  • The first action is to run from my shadow and let it grow.

  • I refuse to join the math club and realize my own weaknesses as a mathematician.

  • I get to cling to the ideal image of myself as a great mathematician, but as a result, I lose the opportunity to actually become one.

  • The second action is to come into contact with my shadow and integrate it.

  • I join the math club and realize that I'm not the great mathematician that I thought I was.

  • In the short term, this hurts.

  • I discover that I'm not very good at geometry, but also that I excel in differential equations.

  • I become measured with my colleagues.

  • I have an actual place and rank among other mathematicians.

  • In reality, I realize I'm not the great mathematician I thought I was, but now I open up the possibility of actually becoming one.

  • I can actually improve my skills and rank.

  • In the long run, this ends up being the best decision I've ever made.

  • See, in a way, we often prefer to be pure potential.

  • We convince ourselves we could be whatever we wanna be, but don't actively work to actually be something.

  • We just comfort ourselves with the idea that we could be something if we wanted to.

  • This is because when we work towards something, we start feeling our weight in the world.

  • We're measured and ranked.

  • We're quantified and actual.

  • And this actual reality is often less pleasurable to live in than our ideal fantasy.

  • But it's real, not a fantasy.

  • And reality can be improved, but a life of fantasy always ends in tragedy.

  • The path to self-improvement starts with self-acceptance.

  • Only by embracing and integrating our shadow, by accepting the ugly parts of ourselves,

  • by becoming who we're afraid to be, can we reach our fullest potential.

  • But if we reject our shadow, if we pick and choose the parts of our past, personality,

  • and behaviour that we like and repress the parts of ourselves we fear, we become incomplete and partial.

  • And instead of living a full, whole life, we live one full of regrets.

  • But it's up to you to decide: in Jungian terms, will you embrace your shadow or reject it?

  • Would you rather fail in actuality or succeed in mere hypotheticals?

Most people are afraid to fully be themselves.

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