On the most terrifying night of my life… I woke up with one thought that punched me in the gut:
 
“Oh my god… I’m a psychopath.”
 
This is a story I thought I would NEVER share…
 
Because at the time… I was afraid that if people knew what I was thinking…
 
I would be cast out… shamed… avoided…
 
And I still have traces of that feeling…
 
But I think this is important — because I would have liked to read more stuff like this while going through dark times.
 
In the middle of my self-implosion in Los Angeles…
 
I had such a strong ego investment in the idea of becoming a Hollywood filmmaker…
 
That when that dream started to slip…
 
So did my feeling of self-worth.
 
I started to question all my past decisions… and who I was as a person.
 
I had relied on the support of others to help make this dream come true…
 
And now I had NOTHING to show for it.
 
This sent me on a downward spiral of negativity…
 
And even though I NEVER had a real serious thought about taking my life…
 
I came across Tim Ferriss’s famous blog post about his struggle with depression & suicidal thoughts…
 
And for the first time, I could at least get an idea of that type of mental pain.
 
When the mind turns against itself…
 
Thoughts of worthlessness rush in…
 
You might feel you are a burden to those around you…
 
Or that you cannot pull yourself out of the pool of shame & guilt of past mistakes or traumas…
 
You might feel like everything is empty…
 
Some people do not survive this process.
 
For others, this pain can be an entry point into a rabbit hole of truth-seeking…
 
And things can get even darker before they get better.
 
You’ll eventually bump up against ideas like determinism (that there is no free will)…
 
Or the dread of nihilism (that nothing matters and there is no meaning in life, including morality)…
 
And finally… you’ll likely endure the confusion & resentment of realizing that nearly everyone around you has (knowingly or unknowingly) kept deep truths about life hidden from you…
 
But for me, there was there was a light at the end of the tunnel…
 
While I had given myself a hypochondriac-like mental diagnosis from a few Google searches of psychopathic traits…
 
What I didn’t know at the time… was that it was the beginning of a normal process that psychologist Carl Jung called:
 
Integrating the shadow.
 
It’s when you begin to consider the idea that maybe… just maybe… you are not the good little boy or girl that you think you are…
 
When you watch movies… you stop automatically identifying with the hero… and can finally empathize with the villain’s point of view…
 
And you realize that you have the potential to be the hero OR the villain of your life’s story— that you are capable of doing good AND bad things.
 
At the time, I confessed to someone close to me:
 
“What if I am a narcissist? Maybe I am a psychopath?”
 
The idea left me paralyzed with fear and shame.
 
But they told me:
 
“The fact that you are so worried about it shows that you are not… “
 
And to help me get out of my own head, they added:
 
“Think about this: You are the universe experiencing itself.”
 
I don’t know where things would have gone had it not been for this simple conversation…
 
And it was a relief to the loneliness that I had been feeling.
 
Which – looking back – made sense in the context of the famous Jung quote:
 
“Loneliness does not come from having no people [around], but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
 
When you finally make this darkness conscious…
 
You’ll also realize that the world’s most popular stories deal with this idea…
  • The dark side in Star Wars…
  • The “dark arts” in Harry Potter
  • The ring of power in Lord of the Rings…

And you know what’s interesting about these stories?

The main character is always the one who knows both the light & the dark, intimately.
 
They understand that the dark has its place… and so does the light… in the balance of the universe…
 
As Russian author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, once said:
 
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
 
This process is a good & necessary step towards self-actualization for everyone…
 
And it holds a special place for me when I think of all the young men today who have been taught to be “nice.”
 
The idea of embracing anger can be scary… because it is not easily controlled in the beginning… and it’s not a socially acceptable emotion…
 
But I believe that building a thoughtful relationship with ALL of your emotions is crucial to a fulfilled life.
 
As people develop a healthy sense of individuality and personal boundaries…
 
They also inevitably run the risk of getting called “selfish” or “narcissistic” by people who were previously benefiting from their old people-pleasing ways…
 
This is often simply a psychological projection that’s designed to protect their egos when someone else’s growth challenges their own lack of progress.
 
The trippy part? You might even put those labels on yourself as the “old you” struggles to hang on in the face of growth.
 
It’s in moments like these that you’ll have an opportunity to accept yourself — and acknowledge that you need to “fill your own cup” BEFORE you can spill into others’.
 
You can be at peace with your past and embrace the self-love & joy of becoming a more real human being.
 
When the time comes, you’ll know exactly what you need to do…
 
You’ll know what you need to say, and who you need to say it to.
 
Is this process neat, tidy, and easy?
 
I’ll let you decide that…
 
But I hope you know that you can step out of the mud… and rebirth into something new.