My Shadow Protects Me
Dance with the shadow
We have a shadow side of us, like two sides of the coin, or the dark side of the moon. And that is often seen as a necessity to suppress. According to Carl Jung, the shadow or the shadow archetype is the unconscious part of your personality that your conscious ego does not identify with. It usually harbors the darker and denser double life of yours when the disconnect is wider.
Our shadow that lives in the darkness does not necessarily possess attributes that are deemed to be vile or undesired by society, the darkness here refers to the attributes of you, or the different archetypes in you who have yet to step into the limelight. If your ego does not agree or embody the beliefs and values that your shadow tends to show and suppresses the shadow it may become dangerous as the pressure builds.
Sometimes the discovery of the shadow is itself a surprise (mostly an unwelcome surprise) but this is also because we have consciously done such a good job of taking in inputs from our peers, parents, teachers, media etc. to learn what is deemed desirable or not. However it is my belief that we live life in congruence and ease when we allow aspects of the shadow into the light while constantly seeking the wisdom of the shadow.
In my personal struggle to let my shadow out, I have always felt I never understood myself. Like there was a big disconnect between who I say I am, and who I really am, and nobody truly understands me, not even myself. The more I grapple with this dissonance, the more I cling onto values and beliefs that I identify with, or is accepted by my peer group, or people whom I look to for approval. Unfortunately, that left me more lost, more incongruent and more angry and resentful.
I was blessed to learn that by safely allowing that edge of my personality to manifest, I got a good boost of adrenaline whenever I let the shadow out. While going through my struggles, a Jesuit spiritual director had encouraged me to invite God into my catharsis. I was puzzled. Wasn't catharsis not a release of long repressed frustrations and anger and bitterness and hatred? How could God be in that mess? It was then I realized that when I looked back at one cathartic meltdown in particular, where I retorted my supervisor in deep frustration about my work, that I blurted my deepest desire which was to warn them to back off from loading the pressure on micro-managing me and it was the first time in ten years, I threatened to quit. God was in the wisdom which came through this release of pent up desires. Prior to that I was simply struggling and confused whether to stay or leave, the pros and cons of which was mired in fear of financial insecurity and disapproving judgments and opinions of my supervisor and boss. I would never have embarked on my discovery of self, without the many cathartic moments in life.
Vishen Lakhiani, author and founder of Mindvalley.com wrote about growth through pain (Kensho) and insight (Satori). There was growth through hardship and trials, but we know we grow only when we are aware that indeed this is a lesson to learn and a journey in life of death and rebirth.
Upon discovering what it means to seek God in all things, including pain, I started to look at past painful experiences with a fresh perspective. I sought for inner wisdom, enlightenment, inspiration, direction and the meaning of those experiences, and how they had contributed to my growth leading up to this moment of writing.
Through this amazing journey of struggling well, I learned that my youthful testing the boundaries with my parents and teachers or people of authority, was both satisfying and a means of self (shadow) expression. I looked back at the times I was most proud of in my life, my shadow had pushed me there. Moments in my university, my teenage life and even in my career, where I stuck to my guns yet managed to shrewdly send the message across with enough guile that could just qualify as acceptable to those in authority. That brought a rush of creative energy and the pulsating adrenaline that was akin to just barely jumping through the subway doors as it closed behind me. It was such moments where I felt in the zone, triumphant and I relished these experiences.
In a normal life, these moments spice up our lives and we ought to dance with our shadow. In the beginning, its about stepping on each others' feet. That's ok, just practice more. I find the guest house visualization a good way of bringing the shadow up, through a quality or primary emotion within the shadow archetype. Mine is pride, yours maybe resentment, hatred, rebelliousness, feeling adventurous or risk taking, etc. Bring that emotion into the guest house and let your inner wisdom inspire you as you make up the scene and script.
However, the dance would be more coordinated with the right ambience. When reviewing, do enter a state of consolation or in a guest house, bring in other emotions of consolation to help balance the visualization. It takes two to tango, so it does not help meeting the shadow emotion with a similar state of desolation. As you dance along, I do hope you begin to internalize these aspects of your shadow and have fun while at it.
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