What is the shadow?
The parts of ourselves that we may try to hide or deny. According to Carl Jung, it can be said to consist of energy patterns, known as selves or sub-personalities that were disowned — pushed down into our unconscious in childhood, as part of our coping strategies.
How do we transform and heal the shadow?
There are a variety of healing modalities to assist with the process. I typically use situations that are triggering someone and dialogue directly with that energy. Processes such as Inner child work allow the person to identify, heal and reclaim those lost aspects. We must first acknowledge, befriend and embrace it. We must begin to shine the light of our own awareness on those parts of ourselves that we judge as unlovable or unworthy.
What is the goal of working with the shadow?
The goal of working with the shadow is to integrate and come to know and accept all of those parts that we have attempted to hide or run from. To find treasure, or make that which has been operating at the unconscious level conscious. Some may not be aware that these aspects exist. It is instinctive work which asks us to follow our own soul’s call and inward response.
Why work with the shadow?
Through this work one is able to slowly deepen and include all of the many interior aspects and to be loving and kind to that which was previously rejected. This eventually allows us to be more compassionate to both ourselves and to others. It asks us to change our views, perspectives and beliefs. It asks us to invite the other in and to embrace our weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
When we work with the shadow we begin to reclaim the projections we put on others. We turn inward and begin to gently listen and heal those aspects within ourselves instead.
What does it mean to face or turn into the shadow?
By facing the shadow we begin to shine a light into the darkness and invite that which has been hiding to come out. It asks us to bring our secrets out from the corners. It means to ask questions inwardly such as; Why am I so irritated or annoyed with that person? Where does that live within me? What frightens me about that person? Who do they make me think of?
What are some outcomes of the work?
Working with the shadow if practiced can eventually lead to not only compassion for self but also for others. It asks us to change our views, perspectives and beliefs. It asks us to invite the other in and to embrace our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. When we work with the shadow we begin to reclaim the projections we put on others. We turn inward and begin to gently listen and heal those aspects within ourselves instead.
Where is this work done?
We have the opportunity to do it anywhere if we are willing to look within. It can be done by simply considering the world as your classroom and every situation a potential teaching. If we decide to shine the light within we will eventually begin to shine our light on to those around us. We become more open and able to receive and to honor all people but first we must confront our own shadow. We are confronted with the collective shadow wherever we turn. Look around. Families all have their shadow, as do organizations.
How do you know where you are on the path?
If you want to know how you are doing look around at the situations in your life. With just a quick glance into your interior mirror you should quickly be able to know where you are and how you are doing. What you notice as being out there, is a reflection of your inner life, your thoughts, it is a part of you. Listening to your body will also tell you how you are doing. If you were to ask me what the most important tool on the path of transformation I would say the mirror.
How do we locate and become aware of the shadow aspects?
Many people are unaware that they are operating out of these unconscious patterns. One quick and easy way to locate those unclaimed aspects is to look at where and how you are judging others. We usually recognize and judge others before we are aware of how we are judging ourselves.
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Copyright 2006-2016 Mary Elizabeth Hoffman. All Rights Reserved.