“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” –Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
Today I went for a long training run outside. It’s been a while but I needed the natures’ therapy today. Along the way I stopped to take a picture of my shadow. I thought it looked cute, the sun was shining bright, the sky was clear blue, and the moment was quiet. I thought “I’ll post it later on Instagram with a thoughtful caption…” and continued on my run.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung
It was after then I started to reflect on that moment, a moment to stop and look at my shadow as a metaphor for something deeper. How often do I allow myself to stop and really look at my shadow. According to Carl Jung, our shadow self is primarily that unconscious part of our personality that we do not often realize is running the show. It’s our unconscious drives, our suppressed feelings, dreams, memories, pain, etc., and it’s much deeper!
“Jung referred to this suppressed side of the personality as the ‘shadow’ or the ‘shadow self’, the parts of ourselves that we think society will disapprove of which are pushed away into our unconscious….As Jung’s words suggest, avoiding the dark side of your personality is likely to cause suffering in the long run. Ultimately, the more we suppress feelings and negative emotions into the subconscious, the greater the power they have over us. Moreover, they can assert (express) themselves in different ways (in our lives).” (source: https://mindowl.org/shadow-self/)
This post is not about the shadow work (if you’re fascinated or want to delve deeper just google; it’s all there). It is about our reactions when we come face-to-face with our shadow side. This is something I feel I have been working on for years! Just when I think I have got it down, something surfaces to remind me that more healing, growth and spiritual evolution is stirring.
I fully own that I have a shadow side. I recognize it because through years of “doing the work”- self-healing, mediation, prayer, yoga, and spiritual work etc. I have become aware of “her” patterns when triggered. When my shadow side is triggered I can feel a range of negative feelings but the ones that typically make their rounds are shame, embarrassment, unworthiness, feeling ostracized, and/or being unlovable. These feelings don’t always surface with intensity or immediately. No, they are sneaky, they are sophisticated…remember those psychological defenses we learned about in Psych 101?!
What I am learning in a deeper way is when my shadow gets triggered and surfaces with those emotions, how can I embrace her with love, compassion and deeper self-acceptance. How can I meet her with the love or acceptance she never got when she was younger. How can I meet her with gratitude, because when she shows up she gives me the opportunity to be aware of where the healing needs to continue to take place.
Shadow work is not about self-esteem or how “good” of a person I am. It’s about the deep psychological patterns we all have and experience as a part of the human experience. We can be really great, functional, kind, and successful people all while suppressing our shadow selves. I know, this is some deep stuff to think about just from taking a picture of my shadow.
However, the message to me was how much more kind, loving and compassionate can you be towards yourself when you come face-to-face with the dark (shadow) parts of yourself.
Can you embody God consciousness and take unconditional love to another level with yourself?
Can you recognize that unworthiness, unloveableness, shame and embarrassment that you feel was conditioned/taught to you by other people that felt those things so deep that they did not know or realize they were “teaching” them to you? Stop owning them because they are not yours.
Can you embrace your shadow with gratitude and welcome her in the Light?
So my reason for sharing this was to let you all know that I’m still here, still doing the work….and I hope that when you meet the shadow parts in your life that you recognize it as such and remind yourself that it’s there to help you. It was created for your survival but you don’t need it anymore. I hope that you recognize that those patterns were taught to you by someone else and that it is time to let them go and replace them with love.
I believe the ultimate work in life is to “know thy self”. This will play out in sport, work, relationships, etc. but the more you know yourself the more you can empower yourself for change in your life. “
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” –Carl Gustav Jung
Mucho love and keep shining,