This is the part where everyone who doesn’t really know me gets a peek into my brain, gets to learn how I think. It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone, but I don’t really think like normal people. I just know how to pretend I do when I need to.
What am I thinking about? Murder, usually. Specifically, I’m thinking about ways to put a new spin on what is perhaps the oldest crime known to Man.
Before anyone calls the authorities, I write fiction…and not the light, fluffy kind. We’ll come back to that.
Last week, I asked you to consider your dark side, the monsters you fight on a regular basis. Today, I want to turn simple contemplation into action. I think it’s time we not only admitted we have a dark side, but learned how to control it before it controls us.
What is a dark passenger?
Long story short, I’m a big Dexter fan. (For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, Dexter is a serial killer who preys on other killers.) In voice overs, he spends a lot of time contemplating the dark need inside him that drives him to kill. He calls it his dark passenger. I like that better than referring to something as the dark side.
That just gets me thinking about Star Wars and playing Evil Empire music in my head.
Anyway. I firmly believe that each and every one of us has a dark passenger. Maybe it doesn’t drive us to kill – and I certainly hope that’s not the case – but it does skew the way we make choices. On some unconscious level, our dark passenger controls who we are in a way the Negativity Beast could never hope to.
But that won’t stop it from trying.
Guess that means we’d better figure out how to take control of our dark passenger before the Negativity Beast does, huh? We can accomplish this in five steps.
1. Understanding your dark passenger
Okay, before we can understand our dark passenger, we need to know what it’s not. We aren’t talking about addiction or habits. This isn’t about booze or pills. It’s not about the fact you can’t stop biting your fingernails.
No, what we’re talking about goes deeper, down to our very being. It’s personal. In fact, in a world where we’re comfortable enough discussing rehab and AA meetings with total strangers, we still shy away from bringing up our dark passengers in polite conversation. Even when we’re totally without boundaries as a species, we still know how to draw a line.
And we draw it at letting people understand the idiosyncrasies that make us worth knowing in the first place. Ironic…no?
So when I talk to you about understanding your dark passenger, I’m really talking about the drives, instincts and interests you’ve had since you were little. I’m talking about things that used to seem normal to you that you learned how to unlearn so you could fit into polite society.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll share a few of mine. You see, my dark passenger drives me to try to understand that which the human mind wasn’t always meant to grasp. It creates a hunger in me for more knowledge, but not on math or literary classics – though I do love a good book and have an affinity for numbers. Instead, my dark passenger directs my interests towards:
- Conspiracy Theories. I want to know what they are, why people believe them and if there’s a gem of truth at their core.
- Paranormal Phenomena. On the surface, the world has order and we’re taught to believe things work a certain way – especially life, death and our senses. But my experience is that it doesn’t quite work that way…and I have to know why.
- Serial Killers. Bad things happen to people every minute of every day, yet we all don’t go on homicidal rampages as a result. When people can’t cope, that’s when I want to know more.
- Spirituality. Do I even need to explain? It’s the one area I could spend lifetimes researching and still never understand.
2. Admitting you have a dark passenger
For some people, admitting they have a dark passenger is like admitting they’re in some way flawed. In reality, it’s simply an admission of your own humanity. Just because everyone doesn’t discuss their dark passenger doesn’t mean they don’t have them.
And let’s be really honest with ourselves. How can you control something if you don’t acknowledge it. So, even if you can’t openly admit the nature of your dark passenger in public, you can admit it to yourself.
Sit down. Think about it. Give it a name.
3. Accepting your dark passenger
This is where the good ol’ Negativity Beast is going to whisper in your ear that your dark passenger is making you crazy. It’s going to tell you to hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Why?
Because at some point, your dark passenger will bubble to the surface and make itself known. And the Negativity Beast wants this to happen at the WORST moment in your life. It wants you to start babbling about serial killers at your kids’ PTA meeting. It wants you to tell a total stranger in the park that they have a lovely aura. (I’ve never done either of those things, in case you’re wondering.)
In short, the Negativity Beast knows that if you deny your dark passenger long enough, it will burst out of its cage at the perfect moment to make you look utterly insane.
You’ll know it, too…which will set you down a negative path of regret. Acceptance is just better.
4. Channeling your dark passenger
So, how do you keep your dark passenger from turning you into the picture of crazy? You accept it and you use it. You give it purpose.
A positive purpose.
Some people turn their dark passengers into careers or hobbies. So can you.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe you’re looking at the interests your dark passenger created in you – or at my little list of insanity – and don’t see any possible way to spin it into something positive. But you can. Everything, no matter how mundane or bizarre, has an outlet.
In order to channel your dark passenger into something positive, I need you to think back to when you identified your gifts. You see, we’re all given a set of skills we can use to control our dark side if we really think about it. Some of them will be totally worthless to this exercise, but that’s why we came up with a list of 10.
Using my list from that exercise, I’m going to show you what I mean…
- Baking Cookies – Worthless to this exercise…unless ghosts like my baking.
- Writing – This might be the single most important talent I have for reining in my dark passenger. I use it in two ways:
- I blog about these “dark” topics on Your Dark Passenger in order to get them out of my head
- The research I do on all of these topics is useful to me when I create plots for my fiction writing. Serial killers, psychics and secret plots…I think that’ll supply me with enough material to fill shelves with novels.
- Helping People – Believe it or not, other people share my dark passenger with me…and knowing they aren’t alone seems to help them.
- Rock Band – Totally worthless to this exercise.
- Math – Totally worthless to this exercise.
- Good Sarcasm – Well, if you’re going to talk about things people think are insane, you’d better put an edge to your words, don’t you think?
- I Don’t Care – Probably shouldn’t care when people call you names because of your interests.
- Awesome Hare – Totally worthless to this exercise.
- Bringing People Joy – I’d like to think that my writing – even on these odd topics – has the power to bring people joy…or at least enjoyment.
- Reading Comprehension – If you’re going to research conspiracy theories, you’d better be able to read between the lines before you trip down the rabbit hole, don’tcha think?
5. Living with your dark passenger
So here it is: At the end of the day, you – and you alone – have to live with your dark passenger. You also have to live with the way you choose to deal with it.
You even have to figure out how to live around it.
You see, I don’t eat, sleep and breath my dark passenger. At some point, you’ve got to get away from thinking about it if you’re going to have any sort of a life. That’s really where it benefits you to channel your interests into something else.
I mean, just because the muse strikes me with murderous inspiration at random moments doesn’t mean I forget how to function in polite society. And it certainly doesn’t mean I kill people.
Funny. That makes me wonder how many mass murderers were really just frustrated writers at their core who couldn’t figure out a way to channel their thoughts in a more productive manner.
That might actually be something to consider before you decide to lock your dark passenger away deep inside your own mind. Well, that and the fact the Negativity Beast is hoping that’s what you’ll do.
How will you control your dark passenger?
I’m aware that we don’t talk about our dark passengers with strangers as a rule, but if you’d like to share any insights about your dark side – and how you can use your talents to control it – I would love to hear about it.
“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
© 2011, Jen Whitten. All rights reserved. Using content from The Positive Piper without permission will cause the Negativity Beast to attack. BEWARE!