(Ahem. Nothing to worry about folks. I’m okay! 🙂 )
Months ago, I wrote this about my experiences in calling myself out on the judgements I make towards others (you can read it here), and while I’ve been committed to viewing all interactions in my life as inner teachers, I hadn’t connected the dots of my contemplations as ‘Shadow Work.’
However, now, with the help of the brilliant Debbie Ford (rest in peace, you amazing woman), I can identify that yes, I have indeed been locking eyes with my shadows – with disowned aspects of myself – and not only that, but dammit, I’m ready to go deeper. I want to wade through the mud, crawl into the crevices and come up sweaty, with dirt beneath my nails.
In her book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (which is quite honestly the most impactful book I’ve ever read), Debbie explains that white is not the absence of colour; it’s the combination of all colour, and that love is not the absence of hate; it’s the summation of all emotion.
Can you picture in your mind a time when you read something (perhaps even here on this blog) and before you had barely digested the words, you were all in. You become a believer. No need to research further, no need to test the waters. The YES within you had been illuminated, and your whole body was telling you so.
That’s what happened to me what I heard this definition of Love. By God, yes.
To return to totality, to become whole, or to simply live a peaceful life, we need to embrace who we are as a whole – all of it. Not just the aspects that beam out optimism and give love freely and operate out of integrity.
If there’s night and day, on and off, up and down, then we also must be the polar opposite of all we desire. We need to embrace this if we’re to realise wholeness.
Louise Hay is an angel of our generation, and she’s responsible for kickstarting millions of spiritual journeys (including my own) through her work with positive affirmations and gratitude practices. It’s no secret that our thoughts greatly impact our reality – the brighter the thought, the brighter the manifestation of life – but I’m at a point in my practice where sugar coated affirmations aren’t giving me the depth of spirituality that I know is possible.
Shadow work is.
We cannot see our shadow – and how can we – it’s hiding behind the light. Our shadows show up in our life via our projections onto others. In other words, it’s the interaction between two people (or a group dynamic, or a corporation) that teaches us about our shadow.
In other words still – and I love how Debbie explains it: If it affects you, it’s a projection.
I’ve heard versions of this Universal Law for years, but crikey, I get it now. I really get it.
In Bali, I confided in my coach that arrogance annoys me; makes me feel all icky like. She barely skipped a beat in locking eyes with me and saying:
Here’s your homework. You’re to have three conversations with three different people, in which you’ll tell them three reasons why you’re better than most people on the planet.
My jaw hit the floor. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.
Life will continue to show us our shadow, vicariously through others, until we’ve embraced it as a part of who we are, until we quit it with the lies and inner games; hingeing our worth on how often we smile, or how readily we swallow down a lump of resentment, or anger, or jealously with an affirmative ‘I accept myself unconditionally.’
Accepting yourself unconditionally is affirming: I’m furious and I have no idea why! Or, Right now, I feel like a worthless piece of shit. Or, I hate to admit it, but there’s jealousy in me.
That’s wholeness: acknowledging the shadow and expressing it, not pretending as though it’s not there. When we express, we transcend. The consequence of denying our shadows, means that we’ll be constantly plugged in to the very emotion that triggers us in others.
For example, if you’re suffocating your anger, you will continually be presented with situations in your life that will challenge you to acknowledge anger. Traffic jams, impatient partners, mum’s at the supermarket who are at their wit’s end with their children. Anger will look you in the eye, until you look within and find it there, too.
Remember, if it affects you, it’s a projection.
I’ll reveal myself first.
Words that trigger me (also known as: words that I hope I’m not) include:
And if we are what we’re affected by, then folks, you heard it here first: I’m scattered. I’m narcissistic. I’m aggressive, and boring, and selfish.
But because I am those things, and because we live in a world of opposing forces, I must also be focused, humble, calm, engaging and generous.
Words that I love, words I’m proud to be, include:
Which means I must also be hateful, unimaginative, fake, cowardly and irresolute.
Bring it on. My arms are wide open. I want all of it.
I have never – in all of my life – felt so empowered.
It’s this energy, this deepening, this curiosity of the dark, imperfect, less polished side, that has been the inspiration for mine and Rach’s newest offering to world:
The 2014 Spirited Companion: Spirited Solutions to What’s Holding You Back.
Setting New Years Resolutions and weekly, monthly, yearly intentions is about more than throwing a few goals out into open air. It’s human nature. It’s part of the creative cycle, which is one of death and rebirth. As one year closes out, we prepare for the newness – for the amped up energy, the spring-loaded enthusiasm, the bounce in our step – that comes with a new one. There’s no doubt about: ain’t no better time than the turning of the year to step into your desires.
But what happens on the mornings where we can barely get out of bed? The days we break our promises? The days we can’t stand the sight of ourselves? When our To Do lists feel like a whole planet has taken residence on our shoulders?
This companion is a guide to getting in your body, to carrying the dark into the light. It’s practical and powerful. It’s Spirited’s more experienced, wiser big sister.
2014 won’t be perfect – it can’t be (and let’s be honest, do we really want it to be?) – but we’ll be damned if it can’t be a little more whole.
Pre Sale starts tomorrow. The guide will be $13 (a saving of $4) and it’ll be delivered to your inbox the first week of December. Keep those beautiful eyes of yours peeled.
Welcome to the dark side.
So now, if you’re feeling brave, I want you to bring into your mind an image of someone who affects you; someone you feel triggered by. Label it: what’s it about them that rattles you? Are they stubborn? Conceited? Oblivious? Obnoxious?
This person is expressing a sub-personality that you may be suppressing. Can you own that somewhere in you, deep inside, you’re stubborn? Or conceited, or obnoxious, or whatever it is that bothers you?
Can you find a way to healthily express this emotion, before it bubbles up into a catastrophic eruption of saboteur behaviour?
If you could be a fly on the wall around here, you’d think I’ve gone nuts. Every time I find myself being triggered, I affirm the mirror. ‘I am deceitful.’ ‘I am an addict.’ ‘I am self-obsessed.’
And rather than detrimental gospel that threatens to pepper my life with misery, these ‘affirmations’ are beautiful; they provide a cathartic release that welcomes oneness and unity with all of humanity. I see us in each other.
(I feel it necessary here to punctuate that we are ALL emotions (for risk of you all thinking I’ve gone truly mad). So, if I am those things, I must also be honest, pure, selfless..)
Just this morning, stretched out in a yoga pose on the carpet, I could feel anger well up within me, and instead of ‘breathing into the emotion,’ I clenched my jaw before eyeballing my lounge room wall and saying ‘I’m fucking angry!’
Phew. Much better.
It takes courage to healthily express our shadows, particularly as women. We’re supposed to keep it all together, to manage ourselves, remain tidy. Mastin Kipp calls this a Spiritual Bypass; a tactic that many of us seekers use when we’re determined to live spiritually rich lives. Instead of feeling our pain and embodying our darkness, we’re too busy looking at the light, clambering for an elusive ‘Good girl.’
Get messy! Be bad!
And maybe, just maybe, if you’re feeling super brave, you can share with us any aspects of this post that triggered you. The comments welcome your reflections!
Be sure to share this post with your people 🙂