Lately, I've had a subject pop up in my life in numerous ways. In my experience, this usually means there's something I need to pay attention to in my life. So, today's topic? The Shadow.
What is The Shadow? Our Shadow/Shadow side/dark side, etc. is the part of us we like to keep hidden. It's the part or parts of ourselves that we really don't like, that we'd rather no one see. Unfortunately for most of us, these Shadow creatures don't always like being in the shadows, so if they are ignored long enough and completely enough, they tend to like to jump out at really inopportune moments and make themselves known. Most of us really hate this, so what do we do? Well, we banish them quickly back to the shadows, of course! Does this sound at all familiar? "I can't believe I did that! Please forgive me. It won't happen again." Which we really believe. Until it does. Happen again.
So what to do? Well, one really effective way of dealing with this is to be brutally honest with our very inner selves. We first need to just acknowledge that this part of us is there. It helps me to give whatever side of myself I'm looking at some kind of name. For instance, if I am working on my critical side, it helps me to think of this side of me as "Critical Carla" or "Judgemental Judy"(no offense to any Carla's or Judy's out there). I can then check her out with a more objective eye. Not only does this make it safer for me to look at this part because I'm creating a little distance from myself (it's not really me, it's Critical Carla), --but it also allows me to open up the doors of compassion and send some love her way (aww, she's having a bad day--she probably needs someone to be really nice to her).
This tends to be more effective in my life than getting into the cycle of feeling critical about something or someone, and then feeling critical of myself for being critical. Shadows feed on that. A regular buffet of shadow food, that is. But it's kind of like overeating. Seems like a good idea at the time, but then you don't feel so good afterward. Same for shadows. What they really want is light. Acknowledgement. Attention. To be loved. You know, the stuff we all want. If we can give them that, the darnedest thing happens. They quit jumping out so much. They can even start to look cute and lovable. They become friends with all the other parts in there. And they curl up and take a nap. Occasionally, they still might wake up cranky and demanding (what newborn doesn't?), but they are much easier to handle.
October is coming. What a wonderful and fun time to look at Shadows. What masks are you wearing? I invite you to identify just one, and take a peek. When does it jump out? What is it trying to tell you? There's usually a message about some unmet need there. What's yours? I can almost guarantee that if you do this work, you will go from having a horror movie running in the background to having some cute little trick or treaters at the door of your psyche. Get some treats ready and give them generously. Your shadow will thank you.