Routines are great. It’s because of a great morning routine, modified slightly over the years due to changing day jobs, that I’ve managed to write as much as I have. But even when a routine is good, you can get stuck in a rut. And you might not even realize it. Why? Because you haven’t been able to leave your baggage behind.
Life on the Other Side of Social Media
When I was on social media, I tried to create and share content that was not only engaging, but hopefully inspiring as well. I had spent a good part of my life trying to outrun the doubt implanted in my mindset as a kid. My first foray into the arts was through music, and when I thought [briefly] about the idea of a music career, my mother was totally against it. As far as she was concerned, and she was very vocal about this, all musicians were ‘drunks and druggies.’ That was not the future she hoped for her son.
But something I never shared on social media about myself was what Tim Grover calls the ‘dark side.’ Grover dedicates a whole chapter to the dark side in his book, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable. It’s the things in life that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know: “The secrets you keep, the maneuvers that have helped you along the way, your desires, your greed, your ego…the lust you feel for things you’re not supposed to have.”1
The Dark Side
In psychology, the dark side is referred to as the ‘shadow self,’ and is often described in the negative—those unpleasant parts of yourself that exist. They’re ‘unpleasant’ because of how we latch onto societal norms and dictums. But your dark side doesn’t have to be, necessarily, something bad or negative, sick or twisted. Really, it’s simply a part of who you are. Grover views it as our fuel and energy—“the only thing that takes your mind somewhere else and allows you to blow off steam for a brief time.”2
When you embrace your dark side, you’re taking ownership of it and the role it plays in your life. And it helps you leave your baggage behind. Because you can either act on your desires or not; you control them not the other way around.
Leave Your Baggage Behind
I have a dark side. There are times when I need to blow off steam and take a moment to step back from life. That’s when I unleash my dark side. And there are [for better or for worse] different sides to my dark side. Today, I’m going to talk about one: online gambling. I’m the guy who, when making a trip to a casino, walks in with a set amount of money to play with—win or lose. If I end up ahead, I walk away. If I lose, I walk away. It may sound weird, but I love the vibe in a casino, and spend a lot of time just people watching.
I haven’t been in a casino in almost ten years. But I always enjoyed the slot machines, which I’m now able to play online. Twice a year, with a budget not exceeding $100. I’m controlling it; I know when to quit. It’s not about winning or losing, but getting away from the pressure I put on myself. But when I’m done, I’m done. I use every tool available to block access.
Because then it’s time to get back to work.
Embrace Who You Are
When it comes to my dark side and the ways I blow off steam, I’m not trying to take stupid risks. It’s just me being me, and accepting my shadow self. Because I haven’t gotten to where I am by always following the rules or being like everyone else. Sometimes I’ve taken chances and failed. Now, I don’t worry about being liked or following the crowd.
I’m embracing who I am. And that lets me leave my baggage behind.
1 Grover, T. (2013). Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, New York, Scribner, p. 83.
2 —, (2013). Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, New York, Scribner, p. 85.
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