Honour your shadow
So here I am talking about darkness today!!!
Well that’s not very flipping cheerful is it Amanda?
NO, it really isn’t BUT (I like big buts and I cannot lie #sir-mix-alot) is it enlightening…..? Can it change your whole life…? YES!
Is it any surprise to me that when I do the spirit animal quiz, I get the Owl? Not really, I quite often sit in the dark as it’s really a place of enlightenment (yin to the yang baby!) in fact, it’s quite magical.
Ultimately, in order for us to feel whole, to operate from a place of authenticity and live the life that is truly meant for us, we have to embrace our whole self…..which includes our shadow side.
What is the shadow? Well, in terms of the familiar shadow, we know what that looks like. We see a distorted dark version of ourselves cast on the ground or the wall when our body blocks the visible light from the sun. As a kid, I tried to step on them, chase them or run away from them…that was literal and physical but if we go down the metaphorical road….I have done that as an adult for a long time too.
The shadow is indeed the dark side of us, the part of ourselves that we often try to run away from or don’t even acknowledge consciously. We cannot run from the shadow, sometimes we can’t see it, but it’s always there. It controls our life in more ways than we can consciously identify; it is strong, encompassing and insidious. Let’s be honest, it’s a feckin’ bitch at times!
To quote Darth Vader (and why bother with masters of psychology and philosophers when you can reference popular fiction?!) “If only you knew the power of the dark side.”
What then, pray tell (as I wrote these four words, I said them out loud imitating Brian Blessed…I regularly amuse myself in these ways…alone…in the dark….where nobody can see me. Oh it does make me chuckle though…go on, give it a go, be like Brian, treat yourself)!
What then, pray tell is the something that blocks the light…..?!
Yes you guessed it……it is ourselves! We are the blockers of light! Hence the well-known phrases ‘get out of your own way’ and ‘I am my own worst enemy.’
We block our light by disowning the dark.
It’s fair enough, maybe we don’t want to shine light on the darkness because we are too bloody busy trying to hold our shit together and be a good person!!!
Now, amongst having a life, doing the shopping, relaxing, parenting, working, cooking, exercising and procrastinating…… am I suggesting we add ‘integrate the dark side to become your whole self’ to the list?! I am chuckling to myself again here so even if nobody else enjoys this blog…at least I have!
Isn’t being human and having a brain just utterly bonkers at times?! And isn’t that absolutely brilliant also?! Being able to laugh at yourself really is one of the healthiest and best things we can do.
Sometimes we simply don’t know how to honour the dark side, especially when we have been resisting or labelling it for so long.
Sometimes it is happening without us fully realising! It’s like an unfolding or unravelling and can feel like the walls are crumbling down around us.
As we begin to look within, we enter the realm of transformation and that very process can easily make us feel like an absolute nutter (I have done a lot of this obvs!) almost as though we have a split personality. If you are going through this, if what you have come to know appears to be dying or leaving or crumbling, it may well be the occurrence of internal shifts as you begin to embrace your whole self and start to become aligned with that authentic vibration.
Often, we are afraid of the dark, it is confusing, uncomfortable and makes us feel vulnerable, fearful, anxious, sad and crazy. As humans, we are hard wired to move away from pain and towards pleasure so it’s no wonder we don’t always like to lift the lid on the shadow side, at best….Oscar the grouch could be in there (if you are younger than me or didn’t have a TV growing up…. look up Sesame Street, sorry about that theme tune btw)!
In the moment, rather than sitting in the dark, we would much rather eat the ice cream, open the wine, go shopping or find some way to distract ourselves and feel ‘happy’ …..but it could be short lived and then we might find ourselves back out of alignment, frustrated, sad or lonely. It is possible to break the cycle when we are prepared to go deeper and that takes courage and vulnerability which is massive beautiful messy strength.
Asking for support when it feels unnatural to you, is strength. Being able to receive is a message to yourself that you are worthy. I have the highest admiration and respect for my clients because they are strong, prepared to be real and ready to transform to realise their whole potential. Honouring and accepting the shadow is a journey of self-discovery that leads you to becoming who you truly are…..the privilege of a lifetime as Carl Jung once said.
So what might live in our shadow then…?
Stuff like our insecurities, control and manipulation issues, fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, limiting beliefs, unworthiness, shame, superiority, inferiority, vanity, judgement, perfectionism, criticism, needing to be right to name a few. All that good stuff or rather stuff that makes you want to projectile vomit!
It’s full of stuff that either we don’t understand or we don’t even realise we are doing because it is happening on an unconscious level. It’s the kind of stuff we don’t care to admit to owning or the stuff we cling to for dear life so nothing changes and we can keep hold of our excuses and stick with what we know and what we have become attached to.
Imagine if we could learn from, accept, embrace and integrate all of this instead of pushing it away or drowning it in positive psychology or telling ourselves we ‘should’ be this way or that way.
When we can learn from it and honour it, we can then become whole; authentically ourselves. We can begin to stop self-sabotaging behaviour, we can stop trying to be perfect. Instead we can feel aligned instead of struggling with the disunited parts of ourselves.
We can love our flawed self, wholeheartedly….that is unconditional love, the elixr we strive for, let’s give it to ourselves! This is alchemy at it’s best!
Oh anxiety, you certainly are a familiar friend and ally to me, forever educating and enlightening me with lessons on what I need to let go of, what to lean into, where to heal and how to grow. You often make me squirm in my seat, you tickle the pit of my stomach, you bring fire into my chest and set my heart racing but I remain grateful to your teachings. I am your student, in my own life and in my work.
Dishonouring the shadow side inhibits us from having strong boundaries. It keeps us stuck in patterns that hinder our progress and development, it causes problems in our relationships and limits our success and happiness.
There is so much liberation and empowerment in this work. Discover a new level of personal power that serves you and your future when you can let your emotions and reactions be your teachers. Embrace them instead of running away from them because they are trying to communicate with you, they will tell you what requires healing for your highest potential.
The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you can ever have and your body talks to you all the time through feelings…but are you REALLY tuned in?
Your anxiety could simply be an invitation to discover more about the real you and align your life with your whole self, not just the version that is projected to the world.
Your challenges, your inner struggles could be the very key to your power and purpose.
By discarding the darkness, we may be entirely missing the light. So let’s get real!
Once you are actively working with the shadow side, you can really begin to see the light and understand your strengths. When you own your SELF, you can own your gifts and shine, share them authentically. You can go slowly, it’s certainly not a race, it is ALL about the journey…..within.
If you are curious about working with me, I am happy to share many testimonials but also to have a chat because it’s important to feel comfortable and connected with any kind of coach (I promise not to do impressions of Darth Vader or Brian Blessed on the call)!
In all seriousness though, I am deeply honoured and blessed to hold that confidential, non-judgemental space for my incredible clients and to be a small part of their journey.
This work is likely for you if any of the following applies:
You feel out of sorts with yourself
Feel unable to be your true self or don’t feel connected to who that is
Your behaviour is not in line with your desires or appears to be hindering your success and happiness
Things are going wrong but you don’t understand why
Relationships aren’t working
You are frequently anxious
You feel weighed down by memories from the past or the way you live/work
You are regularly turning to food or alcohol for comfort
You are hurt by others, seeking external validation or people pleasing
What you do or give never seems good enough
Good Vibes, Amanda G