Lets start by knowing that you don't need to get rid of your Shadow. You can embrace the Shadow and in doing so, use it to your advantage. As I had spoken of in "Part 1 of The Shadow," if I see the opposite of "understanding others and listening" as my shadow, where and how does that serve me? In the beginning of my exploration I wanted to create abundance in my life through my classes and workshops. In delving deeper I had discovered the quality I love most about myself is to understand others, care and listen. The opposite is that I don’t always hang on every word spoken, I may judge and I am only half listening when family is discussing their problems. I am starting to see where after years of half listening while doing hair, I would automatically tune people out so I could do my work. I see this tendency in me with my children as well. "You aren’t listening to me," my daughter accuses. I would have sworn instead that I was losing my hearing. The truth is that I have become very good at repeating back bits of what they were speaking so they thought I was listening. Yes! I have discovered another nugget, a "glitch" and an opportunity to grow.
Embracing my shadow side for me means that I don't have to understand where every ones coming from. I can allowing myself to "tune out" from the drama of their situation, hold presence when I am with them, love them and let them be who they are. I can now become the teacher I wish to be. I can still care and in doing so, break down the barriers in my own heart. Instead of hating the Shadow part of me, feeling shame, I can embrace this new understanding. Once we uncover the darkness, we can see the light, removing any false sense of separation. As I create space around these old programs, I can question whether they are still true for me in this moment.
It can take a huge amount of courage to be honest with ourselves, to be vulnerable and open to change. We say we want to heal our relationships yet how can we if we are constantly judging ourselves and others. We get good at judging others as we walk thru life, but if we look deep enough, those are the same qualities we dislike in our self. When we are honest, the healing can begin. Those same qualities we judge in others are indeed the shadow part of us that we try so hard to hide.
The shadows begin as we download what we see from childhood on. The belief that we aren’t good enough, feeling shame if we didn’t work hard enough, berated for grades in school, feeling inept at sports, ect... The more we shove down those feelings of inadequacy, the harder it is to keep them down. We try all our lives to prove that we are not all those things that we hate. We are not our anger, we are not our fear, we are not our shame, we are not impatient, we are not, fill in the blank. In shoving down the wounded ego, it only gets stronger until it pops up unexpectedly. We hide behind the mask of perfection and hide behind a persona that we believe will bring us all the love and approval we strive for.
My Shadow had also been recognized as a compulsive shopper. So the question is how can I take that side of me and turn it around as a positive? One easy way to tell if your shadow side is running the show is if you feel guilty after wards. Recently I was acting out, storming around our house, angry at myself. When my husband pointed out my bad mood, I reluctantly took a look within. There is no one to blame, I am not a victim, so what is this feeling surfacing, ready to pop? As I seek to develop the strength to live in clarity, I also had to connect with that deeper place within, move past my self-centerdness and be honest. I was wallowing in guilt and shame for ordering a yoga outfit, when we said we were trying to save. Once my Shadow was pinpointed, I could choose to look for the positive attribute in this. As my husband helped me to turn that feeling around, he pointed out how important it was to feel confident on stage ,ie. feeling good about myself and exuding love and dignity to all my students. Maybe one way to exude that is professional, stylish attire, taking care of my self and feeling good as I step onto that stage. Instead of my Shadow using me in guilt and blame, I took action and found a way to use my love of shopping, contacted the company I love to order from to form an affiliate. I could promote the products I loved and also buy them for wholesale! As an added benefit, the process of not judging myself as good or bad has deflated all the urgency and need around shopping. As I slowly become free of the inner demander, I create an opportunity to expand beyond my Shadow.
Do you have a persona that you show the world and secret persona that others never see? It could be in an area that you are out of control, a habit or addiction that holds you hostage. Some people are kind to the check out person, but when the car door closes, scream and lash out at their kids for acting up in the store. Maybe you hold the persona of being successful, yet have maxed out all your credit cards, caught in the vicious cycle of borrowing from Paul to pay Peter.
All of life has an opposite, but we spend our life projecting our shadow on others afraid of our own unworthiness. "That person is stupid, what a horrible driver, that checkout person is a jerk," on and on we go pushing our own shadow out onto others. As we own our shadow, we begin to claim our life. What is standing in front of us, judging ruthlessly is usually the quality that we also hide within. Like attracts like. See those same people in life that we perceive as a thorn in our side as a gift for us to look within and now we have mastery. God loves us so much that he gives us every opportunity to grow, change and become our authentic selves. What we judge in others is a gift for us to see the same in ourselves so we can move beyond into our greatness.
The ego wants to react, judge and project on others the part of us that we hide beneath the surface. As I sat in the lobby at a water resort this summer, I judged the tired, hurried parents who were yelling at their kids to," stay in line, get back here, don’t do that." At first I wanted to shake my head in disbelief. In that moment, I remembered the same day when my family finally arrived at the water park after four hours or driving. As I got out of the car to unpack, I was grumbling to my daughter that this was the last time. In that moment of recognizing my shadow, I dropped the judgment and said a gentle prayer for the mother and son in front or me as she dragged him back into line. "May You be at peace, may you be safe, may you be happy." I then closed my eyes and decided to look for the positive, the families having fun, the parents enjoying their children. My experienced shifted as I looked within.
Who is the person who bothers you the most? A mother, ex-spouse, children, brother or sister? What do you say about them out loud and silently? How do you judge them? This is a clue to what you may be also hiding in your shadow. What would you say to them out loud if you could? As I looked at those parents struggling with their kids I wanted to say, "You're mean, you're out of control or you should get a grip!" In the next moment I also recognized those qualities in myself when I was tired, unaware and unconscious. The more we profess "I AM NOT THAT!", the more we are.
What do we try to do to prove to ourselves and others that we are not that quality? If you accuse others of being pushovers, do you get yourself in situations where you are over assertive? Do you judge others of being tight with their money and then spend more than you have to prove you are not that? Do you accuse coworkers of being sloppy and then prove you-are not that by being compulsively clean? Do you accuse others of being lazy and then go nonstop all day without taking a needed break?
How do we exhibit that same quality we judge in others? Give yourself a chance to look within to see how you display that same example in your shadow side. If you judge others as lazy, do you get lazy about taking care of yourself? If you judge another as unproductive, do you let areas of your health slide since no one is looking? The shadow can be tricky. Allow your own answers to come up becoming brutally honest. How am I like that lazy person? When am I unproductive? How do I display those same qualities that I judge in another? Be with what you are pushing against. If you don’t deal with your destructive patterns, they will eventually deal with you!
How can you incorporate your shadow into your life? How can you utilize it rather than waiting until it pops up in your face?
If you tend to get what some perceive as bitchy with your relatives, maybe you can place some of that assertive energy at work, in a business sense rather than your family life.
If your Shadow includes you in your neighbor's business, hovering over your children, taking care of problems without their asking, maybe you can volunteer for hospice or a nursing home where others would love your company.
As you recognize your Shadow, know that you can apply it in a positive way, serving you to be all that you are! The simple fact is that when we notice these tendencies and behaviors it is the beginning, creating a gap between our reactions and perceptions, creating space before we get totally caught up in the story of me. In that space we become more transparent and open to experiencing our selves as All of it.
Your shadow also includes all your positive qualities. See them reflected in another.
Whom do you really admire?
What qualities inspire you?
What can you do to develop these qualities in your self?
What actions can you take to experience yourself as that?
Remember we possess all the brilliance we see in others.
I am in deep appreciation for the work of Debbie Ford, her teachings about The Shadow and her positive influence on my life and this story.