Walking With Shadow
I recently participated in a digital class that focused on owning and releasing one’s shadow.
For those unfamiliar with this term in this context - the “shadow” is something present in all of us. It is made up of the things we repress or deny out of shame or guilt (something lingering and learned from childhood, or some negative experience, trauma, or imprint in our past).
Essentially, shadow is side of us we hide away from others and often (even at times, inadvertently) from ourselves.
As someone who has a pretty sunny disposition and believes in the power of love and light, I must admit, I was nervous to investigate these more unsavory sides of my psyche. Through the process, however, I learned that the darkness may have more to teach than the light.
Right off the bat I was deeply touched by how much shame and vulnerability comes with contacting – and admitting to oneself the aspects of personality that you want to black out. But repression and denial isn’t the healthiest or freest road to take when it comes to understanding and even befriending the dark sides of ourselves.
It’s like pushing a big beach ball down underwater. You can hold it down there with all your might and force, but eventually, you will let it go and it will pop up with splashy vengeance. I’m learning through this process all the things I’ve been stuffing down (extreme exhaustion, competitiveness/jealousy, feeling like a fraud), are the things that can lead me closer to my truest self, when they are properly and safely investigated and seen.
When we own and understand those parts of us that we’ve been trying to subvert, they lose power and in turn, we grow and evolve. The irony of exploring my darkness? It has been so lightening! It’s like I was carrying heavy bricks with me that I couldn’t see and didn't know were there.
Because just like an actual shadow, we make it into something scary and dangerous when we don’t actually know what it is. It could be a monster, a snake, a robber, etc. But when we shine the light on it, we realize it’s only a jacket hanging on a wall, a belt on the floor, or a pile of laundry. Such is the work of the shadows of one’s psyche. It’s not necessarily easy or fun to point out all the issues, but it is somehow deeply empowering to take responsibility for those sides that we all have, that are here to help us shift and grow away from fear and closer to love.
The 2 books recommended regarding this shadow work are as follows. I look forward to reading them and I hope you do to!
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