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Our Shadow - part 1

(printer friendly version here)
Some might comment that the “new age” is about letting go and that includes letting go of the old ways such as introspection, analysis and working with the mind and that is true to a degree. However, most of us can ride bicycles and knowing what we know now, we would say that we don’t really need training wheels on our first bike to be able to ride it. With the benefit of hindsight we could tell a child that is learning to ride to just get on and pedal because that’s all they have to do. We know that now because our ability to ride a bicycle has evolved to the point where it is instinctive and we can see the simplicity of it even if we haven’t done it in a while. However, a beginner lacks that evolution and can find it hard to trust that it really is that simple. Training wheels make it easier for them to trust and grasp the concept of what they are doing. It prepares them for learning how to do it better later on.

For those that have done the spiritual leg-work, the dawning of the new consciousness means that we can energetically shift much more quickly now and just let go and move forward. However, for those that are stuck, the old ways still have great merit and allow those who find it hard to change to let go step by step and grow in confidence over time by understanding the mechanics of the universe.

The concept of the Shadow-self helps to pull together various topics such as the importance of self-awareness, self-healing, the spiritual laws of reflection and projection and how our problems and the problem people in our lives are our greatest teachers. It is just another way of explaining many of the things I have already written about. My belief is that this is an absolutely vital component in anyone’s spiritual evolution. Anyone who is serious about spiritual evolution has to start interpreting themselves and their life experiences as being meaningful about them instead of holding onto blame and judgement.

The Shadow
What we judge as unacceptable about ourselves is relegated to the shadows of our mind and locked away. The shadow is our hoard of deeper feelings and views about ourselves that we shut out or deny. Much of this judgement happens at a subconscious level and, probably, early in life. If we want to feel self-love, self-acceptance and peace then we cannot deny aspects of ourselves that we deem to be unacceptable or make us feel ashamed, angry, guilty etc. If we do, then we will be at war with the part of us that we feel isn’t enough, wrong, shameful etc and this war stops self-love, acceptance and peace.

Acknowledging and healing our shadow-self is fundamental to our spiritual progress. We cannot be whole until our shadow-self is acknowledged and changed i.e. brought into the light, accepted and healed.

We naturally avoid what is in the shadow i.e. we resist acknowledging it. However, what we resist persists and intensifies. The aspects of ourselves that we resist accepting will keep trying to come to our attention. A refusal to acknowledge and heal our shadow-self is one the key ways we block the flow of life. Much of our energy and power is held back because of this war with our shadow-self and our efforts to deny it exists. This limits our connection to Source.

We may not see our shadow until it falls on someone else.
The shadow cannot be avoided and it becomes visible in our problems (especially problem people) and our behaviours through roles or personas that we use to hide the shadow (more of that in the next instalment in this series). Spiritual and universal laws stop us hiding from ourselves. Our shadow is projected from us and onto people for us to look at. Look at problem people in your life as mirrors so you can see yourself in them. In this way, those who we have most trouble getting on with become our greatest teachers about ourselves. People we find challenging are often teaching us what we hold in our shadow-self but will not admit to or accept.

We find out what is in our shadow through the Law of Projection where we project ourselves onto other people and blame them for their mistakes and shortcomings or by blaming others for how they are negatively affecting our lives. Questions to ask ourselves include “what is my part in this?”, “what is this person showing me about myself?”, “in what way do I do to myself or others what this person is doing to me?” or “is this person showing me a quality that I can’t bring myself to admit to having?”

As I said earlier, what we disown, we deny and we resist, and what we resist persists and intensifies. Our refusal to let go of negative emotions or our need to blame others means we are simply not willing to look at aspects of ourselves that we have projected onto others. Sometimes, what lies behind unwillingness to forgive someone is an unwillingness to forgive ourselves for some reason.

Our Shadow – it’s not all bad
The word “shadow” implies darkness or negativity but we can also keep positive aspects of ourselves in our shadow too because the shadow is simply aspects of ourselves we refuse to embrace. In this way we can see that most of humanity keeps their true spiritual identity and their magnificence in their shadow-self because it is too frightening to even contemplate owning.

We may deny our greatness or any other positive quality because we are afraid to take responsibility for it. Doing so might mean going out of our comfort zone or having to make drastic changes in our life.  It could impact those we love or even end certain relationships. Some keep their drive and ambition in their shadow in order to avoid failure or even success and all the change that comes with it. All our fears create excuses for not changing and so keep the potential locked in the shadow.

What positive aspects of you are you reluctant to acknowledge?
Many find this a very hard question to answer for all sorts of reasons. Some think by blowing their trumpet they are on a slippery slope to arrogance. Conditioning from childhood such as “no one likes a show-off” or “pride comes before a fall” makes us hesitant to reveal our gifts and talents to others and even ourselves. For others, low self-esteem can make it seem impossible to believe that the spark of the divine and all the gifts and talents that come from that lies within them. As Marianne Williamson said:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Despite this resistance to shine our light it cannot help but leak out and be projected onto others in the same way that our negative traits are. The spiritual laws are consistent. When good people and good things come into your life; when you can’t understand how someone could love you the way they do; when you wonder how on earth you could deserve this wonderful thing or person in your life, remember that this too is a projection of what you hold within you. This is the universe telling you that far from being not good enough, unlovable or unworthy etc you hold love, courage, warmth, compassion and more inside you. Acknowledging this and letting it through helps not only you but the world. Shine on.

Part 2 – Roles and personas that we create to try and compensate for the shadow and thus remain in denial plus how the shadow forces us to bargain with life on our own terms.

Part 3 – Using this information in real-life situations and how to begin becoming whole.

 

© Phil Grant unless otherwise attributed