What Defines You: The Hero or the Shadow? (Part I)

In Blog by apparatus

You may be like me, where you serve many roles or titles in your career and life, but underneath titles, who you are is much deeper than the roles you serve. For me, it took a crucible moment – divorce, as it does many – for me to slow down and reflect: Who am I really and how was I being that contributed to the problem?

My mistake was thinking there would always be time, once I accomplished this goal or that, to make amends in my relationships. I had a future mindset – when I achieve this or that, I will be the person I want to be.

Understanding and accepting my responsibility for that mistake also led me to realize there were two different personas within me writing two different stories. One was the Hero and the other was the Shadow.

These are aspects of human nature we all share. The Hero always faces battles in pursuing worthwhile goals.

These obstacles can bring a sort of darkness, but the ultimate obstacle often ends up being the darkness or shadow in ourselves.

The work for me was to reflect on that darkness and understand it for what it is: a part of myself that will always be there.

The exercise I did to structure that understanding had two parts:

First, I identified the characteristics I had when I was triggered negatively. These showed my shadow self. I am not proud of these characteristics, but the traits I exhibit are sarcastic, tired, jealous, mean, angry, short-tempered, impatient, resentful, greedy, selfish, judgmental, and stubborn.  It was difficult to admit, but I realized I spent way too much time living through the lens of my Shadow persona.

Second, I listed the characteristics I had when I see myself as a hero. My Hero attributes are generous, kind, selfless, charismatic, charming, ambitious, collaborative, wise, influential, thoughtful, brave, courageous, patient, loving, slow to anger, positive, optimistic, and hopeful.

It was so much more powerful than I could have imagined writing these down. Even more powerful was to use those lists to evaluate myself each day and decide if I was being more like my Shadow or my Hero self.

Getting that perspective helped me aim more deliberately toward ways to be a better version of all the people I am for my family, business, and community.

Learn more about what defines you and how you can create the best version of yourself in the soon-to-be-released Part II.