Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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In fairy stories, the princess kisses the frog, and he turns into a handsome prince.
About six weeks ago I blogged about Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, about the idea that there is good and evil in all of us. In the story, the evil Hyde, eventually overcomes Jekyll and there is an implication here that our true nature is bad, but that we keep that hidden by a combination of strength of will, intelligence and social pressures. And the suggestion seems to be that, without such constraints, we would be savages. And the same message exists in other books – Lord of the Flies comes to mind.
I suggested in that blog that this belief about ourselves fuels an inner conflict – there are parts in us that we don’t want others to see, and so we fight to keep them hidden. But why fight ourselves? If instead of seeing your Mr.Hyde as being evil you could see him as being hurt, as needing help, you stand much more chance of loving and understanding yourself and of harnessing Mr.Hyde’s energy in constructive ways.
We all have different aspects to our personalities and they surface at different times. Most likely, you behave differently at a party to how you do at work, or in a library, or when you’re tired, or when you’re having sex. But are any of these behaviours any more real than any others? Some of them probably feel more comfortable, more natural – you are more confident in some situations than others – but they are all real, they are all part of you.
Equally, our friends and loved ones also have different aspects to their personalities and we can call fall into the Jekyll and Hyde way of thinking about them, too. You may see your partner behaving very differently in different situations, and you may react differently to them – you may feel proud or embarrassed or loving or angry or surprised at different times, in different situations. Some of these feelings will be more pleasant than others and you might wish that your partner should behave differently in some situations, so that you can feel good all the time.
But you can’t make other people change – it’s only your partner who can change how they behave. You can’t make the horrible Hyde go away so that you and Jekyll can live in bliss. If you believe you can do that, you can find your self trapped on a mission – a mission impossible – to “cure” your partner. It’s not that Jekyll is real and Hyde is an impostor, they are parts of the same person, you can’t have one without the other.
People can change their behaviour, of course, and if you can say to your partner “I know that you like to let your hair down sometimes – and it’s great to see you enjoying yourself – but last night when you danced naked in the street in front of my boss I was very embarrassed” – if you can say something like that, hopefully they will listen to you and have a constructive conversation about it. They may be able to stop doing that altogether – or you may be able to find a compromise (“not in front of my boss” – “I’ll keep my socks on”) – or you may agree to accept the naked dancing and be able to laugh about it with your boss.
Whatever compromise you might come to, it’s not magic. There is no potion that will get rid of the embarrassing Mr.Hyde. In fairy stories, the princess kisses the frog, and he turns into a handsome prince.
In fairy stories.