What Is Our Shadow?
I’m a firm believer that we all have a shadow within us. Let me clarify that further by stating that I believe we are made of light and dark. And not in terms of good and evil, but in terms of what we acknowledge in terms of our strengths, and what we are yet to learn along our journey path.
Our light could be comprehended as the stuff of our behaviours and patterns that we have owned and taken responsibility for. And our darkness could be said to reflect those aspects of self which are still driven by fear or negative self.
When we undertake a spiritual journey, and commence exploring and owning our lessons, we uncover our strengths and internal resources. We build upon our internal resilience by utilising these resources to explore more facets of why we observe and respond, as opposed to react and invest in drama.
When we observe our feelings and responses, we are connected to our light. Our strength if you will. For when we embrace our true strengths of our spirit, our hearts and smiles shine brightly. When we embrace our heart centred space with loving actions for self and others, our light shines brightly.
I talk about accessing my shadow self a lot in clinic and within my social media platforms. For me, it’s like a library of untapped resources and archives just waiting to be dusted off and explored. I’m saddened though, that people perceive our ‘shadow self’ as something to be frightened by. I find myself reminding them that our shadow isn’t a scary place, it’s just an untapped version of self.
What if we reframed your shadow self as simply uncovered treasure?
Our ability to access our light takes dedication and persistence. It is only as hard as you choose to make the process.
What might happen if you were gentle with yourself, as if you were nurturing a young child?
Do you not deserve to be treated with love and compassion?
Our logic-brain responds, “well yes it makes sense to be nice to myself”! But being nice to yourself is much more challenging. You see, modern culture taught us to fear. They have taught us to disconnect from our feelings from a very young age. For example, as a child, were you told to stop crying when your ice cream fell to the ground? Or were you hugged and reassured? That made you think didn’t it?
It wasn’t deliberate, but we’ve accumulated a myriad of responses to everyday events whereby we have disconnected from our feelings and gone into our head. This contributes to our observatory versus reactive habits. And this stuff has been around for eons. It’s old stuff that is predominantly subliminal.
Why? Because we’ve inherited certain behavioural patterns from generations of family. Because society hasn’t lived harmoniously and as communities, we’ve experienced sadness and hardships. So, from these inherited experiences, our relations developed responses to life. Some of them positive, and some of the negative. For example, imagine how strong the positive outlook was of our relations who lived through the great depression.
What if you could reframe from negative to positive?
For the most part, the negative responses to life are often repressed – because we don’t want to continue to experience them. It’s painful to experience (sometimes over and over again). And remember, we easily take on behavioural responses at a DNA level because we are eggs, inside our mother, whilst she is being gestated inside your grandmother. It would be fair to say this is deep stuff, and you’d be right!
We all have stuff.
Our stuff is old and entwined with every memory from our past. That’s what makes it a journey! Our lives are a series of experiences to which we can create compensation patterns of behaviour. The lesson is unravelling out of negative reactive space and back into love.
We live this life to experience new things perhaps. Some might say that we have this journey to overcome the triggers from the past and evolve to a new space.
So I’ll ask again – what if we reframed your shadow to simply be hidden treasure, just waiting to be found?
However, we only truly connect with our light when we connect with our emotional juice – that good juju feeling. It can help to close your eyes when you first start this process.
It’s that inner knowing that we are presently experiencing happiness and joy. And then we open our eyes and literally see the joyous experience we are having. We capture this feeling only when we are in ‘now’ state.
In her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Debbie Ford defines the shadow self as “unmasking that aspect of ourselves which destroys our relationships, kills our spirit, and keeps us from fulfilling our dreams.”
The famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology, Carl Jung, defined “shadow as the parts of ourselves that we have tried to hide or deny”. Jung further stated that “our shadow contains those dark aspects that we believe are not acceptable to our family, friends, and most important, ourselves. The dark side is stuffed deeply within our consciousness, hidden from ourselves and others.” Jung therefore theorised that people process the following from their shadow:
- there is something wrong with me;
- I’m not okay;
- I’m not lovable;
- I’m not deserving; and / or
- I’m not worthy.
Does this sound familiar to you? Hopefully these aren’t feelings you consciously have all the time. If they are, then do talk to your medical professional. But all of us have been triggered at some point in our lives and have resonated with one or more of these statements.
It therefore stands to reason, that no one would consciously want to explore these negative thoughts and feelings. It has the potential to be uncomfortable at best and at worst down right painful. But I’ll challenge you with this question – Why would you want to continue carry the negative juju with you? Because this stuff that we carry is negative, we refuse to look at it, which influences our behaviours and actions.
In my opinion, the shadow self, is our best resource. This is because it’s that place within, that we can roll up our sleeves and explore what’s really going on. Often, we get ourselves stuck with our old patterns, and when you start to explore what it is you are afraid of, you defuse the negative energetic charge of the stress. And you start to feel better, your behavioural patterns change, and you literally feel lighter as you release the burden of the old way of life.
The more you explore (of shadow self), the more opportunity you have, to allow your light to shine even brighter than before. So, dig deep. Be gentle with self as you explore the stuff that has been hidden until now.
Sometimes you can let go of chunks of old patterns, sometimes you have to chip away. But the common denominator is that you are exploring self and releasing the old to welcome the new. It is your willingness to look within that builds your resilience to tackle anything universe throws your way!
Understand that your shadow is a gift to you. It’s not something you ever get rid of. I like to think of it as an eternal resource library that I can access to explore more of why I do what I do! You too can choose to change, blooming from within as you embrace your shadow self too.
Ford, Debbie (2014) “Revealing the Secrets of Your Shadow Self” source – https://www.healyourlife.com/revealing-the-secrets-of-your-shadow-self
Karen Humphries is a Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, LEAP & NES Practitioner, and self-confessed laughaholic. She is an avid Breast Cancer Advocate residing in Gippsland Victoria Australia. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’