A couple of decades ago, I began a process of examining my own shadow energies. I remember working with one particular shadow, the ‘nice guy’ and his opposite. Under my ‘nice guy, people pleaser’ was a passive aggressive, angry and insecure man who lacked passion and drive. Uncovering these hidden aspects released power and purpose; courage to love; to take chances and find a joy that permeated much of how I live today.
Inner work requires that the true seeker examine and integrate all aspects of our selves or sub-personalities. Shadows are those parts of ourselves that we hide, deny, repress and usually fear. These unacknowledged and unintegrated parts show up as patterns or energies that may play havoc on our relationships, how we view our world and determine our success and ability to enjoy life and love. Shadows develop as part of our natural coping strategies starting in childhood. If, for instance we as a child had a dominating and angry parent, we may develop a natural disdain for anger. We stuff any of our own feelings of anger and aggression and develop a life long fear and judge other angry people. We may suppress our own feelings of the energy of anger as unacceptable while also repressing our drive to be assertive; be passionate. Other self-defeating belief systems may become ingrained and develop a ‘victim’ mentality in aspects of our lives. Shadow also contains energies of our magnificence and greatness. We may hide those for fear of appearing arrogant and we play small in our lives.
Transforming shadow requires that we compassionately and truthfully examine what is working in our lives and what is not working in our lives. Once identifying these shadow aspects the hard work of owning and integrating these energies in a productive way. It requires enormous courage to be that transparent while uncovering what I call the ‘undefended self’. While the work is often done in one on one sessions with a therapist or guide; the power of an evolving community of like-minded people is an exceptional way to integrate and heal the fractured parts.
How to discover shadow?
Often our shadow parts get projected out on others who we judge or abhor in another. Do you judge others harshly? Chances are you have in shadow similar traits that you repress and deny. Ask yourself, what of this other bothers me? How am I similar? It takes courage and a high level of commitment to take responsibility for what we project on another. Bringing in the dark material into the light of Truth will begin to transform that material into something that is useful to living a life of purpose.