11 Aug Shedding Light on the Shadow for a Sustainable Recovery
How do you maintain a healthy life for sustainable recovery?
What addicted person doesn’t want to be well? We all want that whether we are addicted or not. If we suffer from depression, codependency, anxiety, trauma or any of the other countless maladies we can mention, we all want to be done with them and to lead a vibrant and healthy life. So many of us however, despite our yearning for health and many, many attempts to achieve it, have not been able to sustain it. Some of us tried for years and years to be healthy only to return to the patterns that eroded our quality of life in the first place. Certainly, if we had known what we needed, we would have gotten it. Similarly, if we had known what held us back from the successful lives we yearned for, we would have tackled those problems head on. The problem is that we didn’t know. The answers we needed were hidden from us in the shadow part of ourselves—the part of ourselves that we simply can’t see.
The shadow is not something frightening as the term might suggest, but rather it is the things about ourselves that we have disowned and even if we were willing to incorporate them, we can’t because we don’t know them to be ours. These aspects of ourselves are hidden from us for lots of reasons. For example, perhaps we were told that we weren’t smart enough, talented enough or attractive enough. Any of those messages we get in life that diminish us can send amazing aspects of ourselves into the shadow if we believe them. Then, if we do deal with the shadow, we might find that we are bringing our intelligence, talent and attractiveness back home so to speak. We can incorporate them rather than disown them. We can be more empowered and more complete.
What we call shadow work is significant in healing addiction and a vital part of our holistic addiction program. It creates deep change and the possibility of a sustainable recovery. The unseen and unknown aspects of ourselves operate at unconscious levels that can haunt us and keep us from having a full and vibrant life. They can pull us back time and time again to the dysfunctional patterns that make us unwell. The shadow’s content, for example, supports and perpetuates our problems with fragmentation, disempowerment and negative, self-sabotaging beliefs about ourselves, others and the world. Resolving these issues empowers us. It also frees us from the unconscious ‘programming’ that has sabotaged us. This creates a wonderful opportunity to understand our journey to health better, to know what didn’t work and why. It helps break through the beleaguered sense of helplessness and despair that so many have carried. It makes a full and sustainable recovery finally possible for people who thought they would never achieve it.
You can hear more about the shadow aspect of ourselves and its importance with Dean here as he discusses our “stories and shadows”.