What if I told you that the key to being at peace in the world is within your reach? Do you want to unplug from all the drama that you experience or witness in your life? Do you want to understand your reactions to people or situations in your life? I know those questions sound a bit like a commercial is coming your way.... I promise that if you read on this article will contain the answers to set you free.
So first a little bit of teaching. Carl Jung first gave us the term "shadow" to refer to those parts of our personality that have been rejected out of fear, ignorance, shame or lack of love. His basic notion of the shadow was simple: "the shadow is the person you would rather not be" (excerpt from Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford) Here are some
examples of how the shadow can show up in our lives. We may have been yelled at for laughing as a child so we decide that laughter is no longer safe and put laughter into the shadows. We may see someone get in trouble for getting an "F" in school which creates a fear inside us and we decide never to be in that situation so we strive for nothing but "A's". We may have lived in an environment that always had to be clean and in perfect order so we go to the opposite and allow our home to be messy. My personal example. I worked for a manager that was unpredictable and angry and when I became a manager I decided that I would always be nice. As we put these ways of being into the shadows we also decrease and limit the range of what we allow ourselves to experience and be. These are just a few examples of how the shadow can show up in our lives.
Next piece of the puzzle is Mirroring and Projecting. The higher agenda / purpose / human experience, is to return to wholeness and reintegrate those pieces that we have put into the shadow. Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to notice that we live in a world that is constantly showing us our shadow. We see the world through the lens of our shadow which means that the people and situations in our lives act as a mirror which show us our shadow. We then project our story / shadow onto the mirror.
What you don't own, owns you. What you can't be with, won't let you be.
When we have conflict or when we observe situations that stir up our emotions, that cause us to have a reaction. This is the cue that a shadow may be wanting to be revealed.
5 Steps to Seeing Beyond The Mirror
1) Connect to the Story ~ Whether you open up your journal and write or tell a close friend. Share the unedited story. Give yourself permission to literally put it out there full force without judging yourself. This is can be a big step and it is a powerful step. Trust the process. Your story may seem contrary to how you usually are so it won't necessarily feel good or be easy to share. Trust in the process.
2) Notice Your Feelings & Energy ~ This may be challenging to accomplish at first. Identify what you are "feeling" now that you shared the story. Keep it simple at first. Mad, glad or sad? Then you can dive down into each. Mad may lead to frustrated or angry or agitated. Identify as many feelings as you can. Also notice your energy. For example; childlike, powerless, like a teenager etc. What you are feeling now, do these feelings feel familiar?
3) Share Your Judgement ~ Get really raw with this one, unedited and unfiltered. My judgement of ________________ is that they are _________________. Ex. My judgement of Steve in this situation is that he is being an inflexible, insensitive ass.......
4) Notice / Own the Mirror & Projections ~ Take a deep breath and be honest with yourself. Where in your life are you or have you been this way? Where in your life have you created similar situations? Can you accept that your friend, co-worker etc. is simply acting as a mirror for this shadow? Can you own the mirror? I am an inflexible, insensitive ass....
5) Look Beyond The Mirror ~ A really amazing tool for this is an actual mirror. When we look in an actual mirror, we see ourselves. The truly liberating piece of the puzzle is that the person we see reflected back, is the only one who can change anything. You are 100% responsible for everything that you see in the mirror. If you don't like what you see, look at yourself. When you really look deep into the actual mirror and into your eyes....you will see that you have been there for yourself all along. Say hello to yourself and take a deep breath!
Take a deep breath, rinse & repeat. There are many layers to our shadows and these layers will be revealed over time. Be gentle with yourself as this won't change overnight. I have spent years looking in the mirror deeper and deeper. Not all shadows are clear either, you may need to do some real digging or ask for help to get to the core.
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford