YOUR SHADOW SELF: HOW TO FACE IT, BRING IT TO LIGHT & TRANSCEND IT
November 30, 2018
By Milan Karmell
The Facts:We all carry a darkness inside that we wish to keep hidden from ourselves and others. Without understanding and facing it, we remain unaware of it.
Reflect On:Are you open to meet your own totality without setting conditions for this essential encounter? Are you willing to face your own darkness in order to truly transcend it?
“What you most need will be found where you least want to look, but you have to look purposefully. If it chases you, then you’re the prey; if you confront it, you can transcend it.” – Jordan Peterson
There is a lot written about shadow and what it is. The direction is clear. Shadow is something we repress and hide from others, and in most cases, from ourselves. Where does it originate and what can we do to integrate or heal it?
Let’s begin by asking ‘why we have a shadow?’ Is it because we carry darkness at our core or does the shadow take shape over our lifetime as residue of fear, rage, shame and guilt, and their avoidance? I’d say a little bit of both. On the human collective level, we carry trauma related to suffering and aggression of our ancestors. But for the most part, our shadow develops during this lifetime in the form of a complex and sophisticated personality, that keeps us with a sense of control.
DEEP DOWN WE FEEL VULNERABLE BUT TRY TO HIDE IT
Our inner world is complex and for some, unbearable. We continuously face and fear exposure of our contradictory complexity, towards ourselves and others. Instead of delving into the depth of our psyche and inviting more consciousness, we would rather guard ourselves. The more conscious we are, the more responsible we become for our actions. One of the reasons we so meticulously hide our shadow is because we don’t want to carry the consequence of our actions. And so, our vulnerability and shadow are closely linked.
There are many effective ways not to feel vulnerable and retain a sense of innocence. Abiding by a strict morality, adhering to ideologies, be they social, political or spiritual, or relying on religious dogma, all achieve exactly that protection. The kind of protection in which we cradle ourselves in feelings of righteousness and innocence. This is not to imply we shouldn’t seek for our actions to be moral or avoid believing but to become aware when they are used in service of feeling superior over others. Interestingly enough, our wish to remain innocent is a big shadow in and of itself.
So, while we’re busy repressing and controlling, the shadow feeds and grows with every attempt to fight off rejection, humiliation or punishment, as well as situations that leave us feeling guilty and shamed
Here are some examples of how our shadow hides our vulnerability. Let’s say we want to be recognized for something we’ve done. Instead of asking for acknowledgment, we hide it through false humility and become resentful for not getting the attention we feel we deserve. Another example is our need to belong and be important to others. But again, instead of communicating this need, which makes us vulnerable to rejection, we make others feel important in the hope of being praised for our actions. Over time we’ve developed innumerable sophisticated ways to sugarcoat our shadows and feel in control.
Forty Six & 2 - Tool