Examine Your Shadow for Holistic Recovery

 

The Importance of Examining your Shadow:

 

Say Hello To My Little Friend. Culturally, we are taught to ignore or even repress our shadow pieces, our darker side, our nasty little thoughts, urges, and behaviors.

Unfortunately, what we leave unattended does not “go away”; rather it grows and often times comes to bite us when we least expect it and certainly when we don’t feel we need it. But what if we truly examined our shadow? Took the time to look-in and embrace this darker side? What, if anything would we gain? How would we feel? What might we lose?

Our shadow pieces take many forms; some reoccur throughout our lives while others arise at differing times from varied circumstances. I first began examining my own shadow by analyzing certain triggers; those persons and actions that bothered me (though not others) on a core level. What is so damn special, for instance, about a given prominent political figure? To some she is a godsend, to others she is evil incarnate. For me, she stirred a piece of my shadow – in her I saw duplicity, proudly stating one position and actively doing another while seeming, at least, to smile all the way. In actuality, what I truly saw was a piece of me albeit without the smile. In what ways have I not walked my talk? How do I succeed (or fail) at putting on a stalwart face in the midst of chaos? Do I dislike this politician or am I unhappy with my own similarly perceived shortcomings? Most important, what am I going to do about it.

We find by openly examining our shadow – a bit at a time – that it begins to lose its strength. How often have we been so fearful of telling a friend or lover something only to find that being forthcoming and truthful not only gives us a great sense of relief, but that the issue or problem was never as “big” as we first surmised? Once the horror is removed from a shadow, we can re-address it from another perspective and, ultimately, embrace and incorporate it into ourselves on a new level. In my above example, I was able to see that yes, at times I am duplicative and I must endeavor to avoid such actions. However, there are times wherein being two-faced – and good at it – is a positive trait. Should my loved ones be in peril I would be happy to blatantly lie if it could help their situation. Similarly, in learning to manage this shadow piece, I have placed a greater emphasis on the importance not of “walking my talk” but “talking my walk”. That is, I will walk my path in life and make choices as I see fit and proper – and I will not fear telling those around me of my choices. I will not, however, make choices based on my talk; for when I fail at that, I am back in the spiral of guilt, remorse, and all too often, deceit.

So take the time to look inside and say hello to that little friend – examine your shadow. After all, it is always with you so you are best to acknowledge it, thereby manage it and, of course, have it at the ready to draw like a six-gun when you just may need it.

If you are interested in learning more about the shadow, I recommend the following:

  • The Shadow Effect. By Debbie Ford. Perf. Debbie Ford. Hay House, 2009. DVD; and
  • Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self. New York: HarperOne, 2010. Print.

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