You And Your Shadow
We all have this part of ourselves that we don't like and that we wish weren't there. It's the part that gets us into trouble, that we want to hide from other people, that makes us do things that make us feel guilty. It's the part that's ugly, ridiculous, egomaniacal, stupid, dangerous and downright sickening.
So why don't we just get rid of it or, at least, ignore it and push it down so we don't have to deal with it?
Because we can't get rid of it. That's impossible. And when we try to ignore it, avoid it and push it down, it doesn't go away. It just hides inside of us, builds a life of its own and rears its ugly head when we least expect it, want it or need it. It comes out when we're upset, stressed out, angry and out of control and causes us to do things that hurt us.
Whatsmore, it's not a good idea to get rid of it. Because there is value in it. There is life in it. There is power in it. You just have to establish and build a relationship with that shadow side of yourself so you can manage it in a way that helps and doesn't hurt.
Where does this shadow material come from? Some of it is primordial. It comes with the fact that we are animals and, like other animals, we can be pretty nasty when we or our loved ones are threatened or when we're having trouble eating, sleeping or mating in the way that we want to. It also comes from having been hurt as children. Nobody gets parented the way they should be. After all, parents have to make a living, live their lives and do things other than raise their children. So we all are abused and/or neglected to some extent. Some of us are abused and neglected to the point of being traumatized. Trauma creates shadow material.
So how do we welcome this part of ourselves and build a relationship with it so we can mange it. First, we have to become aware of it and more open to accepting it. When we see it in ourselves, when it raises its ugly head, we can experience it and fully accept it instead of making believe it isn't there or shrugging it off as just an isolated incident or blaming it on others or the situation. Once we acknowledge it, we can use some form of quieting down to become more comfortable with it. There are "closed eyes" exercises that you can use to give those ugly, scary and dangerous parts a safe place in which to dwell, a place in which you can be in touch with them and manage them effectively. Once you are more comfortable and friendly with them, you can even go to the point of honoring them in your choice of jobs, careers and leisure activities.
Al Galves is a psychologist who can help you do this valuable work. Through reading his book Lighten Up: Dance With Your Dark Side (in press - to be published in January, 2007) and attending his workshops, you can learn to get in touch with your shadow stuff and manage it so that it helps you live the way you want to live.