Our shadows hold the essence of who we are. They hold our most treasured gifts. By facing these aspects of ourselves, we become free to experience our glorious totality: the good and the bad, the dark and the light. It is by embracing all of who we are that we earn the freedom to choose what we do in this world. As long as we keep hiding, masquerading, and projecting what is inside us, we have no freedom to be and no freedom to choose… [Shadows] are only harmful when they are repressed: then they can pop up at the least opportune times. Their sneak attacks will handicap you in the areas of your life that mean the most. ~ Debbie Ford
Shadow work requires enduring courage and a willingness to see. Lynx medicine shares the gift of seeing deeply into the secrets, lies and shadows present in our experience. At times, we may feel cast out to a sea of uncertainty when we and/or others we love engage in the shadow-discovery (or shadow denial) dance. Fears fears fears lie on the sea bed, stirred up and eager to swallow us like the hungry tide. I see all this fear-awareness as a gift for further excavation and release. What we courageously embrace for our own shadow-healing serves the wholeness of us All. It’s such a gift to be on this path of consciousness, even if the highs and lows feel tumultuous at times.
Sure, seeing into the shadows is a gift, as our fears and shadow expressions can help us to witness what lies within in need of further healing and integration. I discover that I harbor a tendency to make myself or others wrong when shadows come to view. It’s not about being wrong though, as shadows are part of the human condition and helpful tools on our evolutionary path. As I emerge from my reactive phase into deeper awareness and gratitude for what is showing up, I find myself feeling more loving, gentle, compassionate and joyful. I’m open to discovering (hopefully soon!) a gentle current that takes me from noticing shadow, then right to gratitude and joy without the heart-wrenching turbulence in between.
Seeing shadows is one thing. Talking about them is another.
When we walk around telling others about their shadows that we see, they are not all that likely to greet us with open arms and hearts. They are not even likely to see and believe us. This is super tricky territory, especially when you add the dynamic of projection. Projection is when we see in others that which lies secretly buried within ourselves. When we observe shadow, deep internal inquiry is the best first step. Owning what we see within is the next. Then perhaps we are ready to talk about it with another.
When we notice our own shadow swimming to the surface (fabricating, exaggerating, gossiping, or whatever else serves our egos), we can be willing to call ourselves on it. This can be one of the most healing events, for ourselves and for our relationships. We can all feel the oogy energy that comes out at times like these. Why not call it out and clean it up? Why not own our deeper honoring of the relationship at the expense of our ego’s desire to kick sand over the truth in order to construct a pretty, but fake, face?
I am in no way ready for a radical honesty approach in all my communications unless it’s done purely from a space of love. Checking in for guidance on what to share (if at all), how and when, can help us to navigate the tricky tides in that sea of uncertainty. We can also negotiate with our key partner(s) a willingness to show up in shadow work with one another in an honest and on-going way. This can require quite a bit of trust-building, a willingness to tell and hear the hard truth, and a capacity for boundary-setting in the ways that we share insights. I believe this can be a gateway to the deepest intimacy, growth and expansion imaginable. I don’t expect that it would be easy all the time though, especially with the big stuff that provokes big fears like rejection and abandonment. We need lots of patience, compassion and love. I recommend Debbie Fords, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, and Byron Katie’s, Loving What Is, before embarking on serious shadow discovery. I’ve also authored several other blog posts you may find if you search “shadow” on the blog page.
And remember SunBear’s wise words:
Whoever said we are supposed to get it right? We totally made that up!
As we do the work, it can be helpful to remember that the ways we show up, especially in shadow-dance, are not the same as who we BE. We are all expressions of the divine, in all the ways we show up. At our core – beyond the woundedness and shame we’ve all acquired as part of the human condition – we are all Angels-in-Earthsuits, earning our wings, one courageous but awkward albatross dive after another. Seeing ourselves and others as naturally creative, resourceful and whole in each moment empowers us and empowers others too.
What would Love do?
That’s the question I intend to come back to (sometimes after some rather ugly reaction and re-gathering space for myself).
Remembering to choose to show up as Love is the source of empowerment, where we step beyond reactions to what others may choose and come back into our own essence.
Just remember that with so many ups and downs in the energies of late (increasing even in intensity I believe), we are all doing the best we can with the skills and gifts we have and with the unique soul challenges we are calling forth in our experience. We stumble into our shadow, yell “ta da!” and return to the Light of Love. We see another’s shadow, and we learn more about our own.
We cannot be triggered by what we see in others unless we also share it or have something to learn from it.
So much love flows through you and to you. One of my very sweet friends said something really healing and freeing to me once, which I share with you now:
Even your shadow is beautiful.
Copyright © 2015 Denise Sheehan, All rights reserved