We all have a shadow side. It's a part of us that we've worked hard to repress. So hard, in fact, that we don't even recognize it.
Ever find yourself criticizing someone you see in public, or even one of your friends? Maybe they play the victim, or have a problem with extreme jealousy, or are passive aggressive?
By now it's not news to most of us that we are triggered by others' reflections of ourselves. But knowing that and doing something about it are totally different animals.
This week my child held up a mirror to me that showed me one of my shadow sides - anger. Big anger. And when you've been triggered by a four year old you can either call yourself crazy or count your blessings and look for the lesson. I chose to look for the lesson, knowing that I could free myself.
There are lots of great resources out there for those who want to delve into the shadow, namely the awesome book Dark Side of the Light Chasers (affiliate link) by Debbie Ford. But if you're looking for a quick and dirty way to address your shadow, I'll walk you through what I did last night. It took me about half an hour.
Acknowledge your shadow. Your shadow is a part of you that's been driven underground. It can be viewed as a personality and given a name and a face. Usually its opposite aspect has been very active in us while it lies inside quietly waiting for its moment to appear. We'll delve into the shadow's opposite in part 2 of this post.
Write down your shadow's qualities. I described my shadow's traits as judgement, condemnation, hostility, rage, wanting to control others, and yelling.
For each quality, ask your shadow, "how do you serve me?" and "what can I learn from you?" These lessons are most useful when you write them down, since otherwise they might be easily forgotten or ignored.
For example, here's what I can learn from Judgement:
Discernment. True authentic power comes from having the courage to step back and assess what is an authentic yes or no for me. Then I can own them and they will be clear to others as well.
Once you've written down everything you have to learn from each of these qualities, you can set your resolutions to integrate the lessons from your shadow. My list looked like this:
I resolve to:
Reflect on my heart's position before saying yes, no or making plans
Stand in my power when making decisions
Use my voice to speak my truth
Forgive others for past actions
Validate my own worth and value
Notice when I censor myself and observe the assumptions behind it
Own and love my strength and power.
Pretty amazing stuff for a part that I'd discarded as worthless. Even your bleakest, scariest part has gifts for you. It is simply trying to let you know that all of your truth is not being expressed.
Having or acting on negative emotions isn't a failing. It's simply a mirror. Accept that mirror with grace and find the courage to look inside it. You'll find that your inner demons are actually much more beautiful than you'd ever have thought.