I get so pissed off sometimes that I literally want to bring the walls down around whomever or whatever is the source of my discomfort.
Seriously… When someone talks to me in a disrespectful, sarcastic tone it pushes my buttons. You can literally hear my family holding their breath as they take a step back to avoid the wrath.
It doesn’t happen as often as it used to but I would be a liar if I pretended like I’ve grown beyond it… because I haven’t. Sure, it takes a lot more to get to a snapping point but it’s almost as if the “snap” is getting more organized, intense and destructive.
Last week I learned that my 18 year old daughter has a boyfriend that is influencing some rather poor choices. Fear stepped in, and out came this obsessive Kraken ready to destroy this young man in the hopes that he would see my daughter as a liability and dump her… ya know, because her mother is batsh*t.
I spent hours hunting down everything I could find about this 20-year-old punk and with every keystroke, rage, fear and overwhelm consumed me.
Why would I tell you this ugly truth about myself? I mean, I’m supposed to be a pillar of personal strength, right? For f*cks sake, it’s literally my brand!
So why share it?
Because it’s important to understand that we’re all on the same journey. We’re all searching for this better version of ourselves and in the process, there’s a side that’s getting suppressed because everywhere you look is another program, book or event designed to point your focus away from the full picture.
Yeah.. it feels great for a while. And with time, you learn to maintain the euphoria but you still may not feel whole. Which is where Shadow Work comes in. Carl Jung, the father of Analytical Phycology, introduced the concept in the 1900’s so why am I just learning about this now??
Because it’s not as fun as the fluffy, rah-rah, feel-good bullsh*t that everyone else is pushing. It requires a real dedication to personal growth and the willingness to look at, and experience, your behaviors in a way that makes you uncomfortable… until it’s not.
In order to cast a shadow there must be light. The bigger the light, the bigger the shadow.
Some say it’s the next evolutionary step in developing your sense of Self and I would agree. It’s not for beginners, that’s for sure. I’m on day 10 of my journey and I’m barely scratching the surface. It’s like I’m stumbling around in the dark.
Everywhere I turn I stub my toe on another modality or process that claims it’s the “right” or “only” way and there are very few people actually teaching how to navigate it.
So what did I do? I combed every corner of the world wide web and started making lists. My lists had lists because that’s how I roll. With no link unexplored, I discovered the core processes/steps to uncover the suppressed version of our Self to begin healing our emotional Being.
What is the point of Shadow Work and if it sucks so bad, why do it?
It only sucks because no one likes to admit to things they don’t want to see. Once you’ve acknowledged your truth the “suck” goes away. I promise!
Shadow Work is the exercise of acknowledging and embracing the versions of ourselves that we don’t want anyone to see. It’s the sh*t we hide from everyone including ourselves. It’s the bits and pieces that feel unlovable, unacceptable or unwanted.
Get that everyone has shadow versions of themselves and when they aren’t given space to coexist the presence of the shadow manifests itself subconsciously through our actions.
A mentor said something to me many years ago that stuck:
The “world” occurs for us the way we occur for ourself.
The opposite is also true. You occur for others as they occur for themself. Which is to say… People project their own bullsh*t onto you just like you project yours on to them.
So how do we know when we’re looking at our Shadow?
You look at what triggers you.
Our triggers illuminate a part of us that Carl Jung dubbed our “shadow.” As children, we form unconscious beliefs and ideas about ourselves that we feel so ashamed that we bury them in our shadow— the unconscious part of ourselves. As children, when we feel ashamed like we don’t matter or we’re not good enough we take those beliefs and push them down into the unconscious part of the mind. Aggressive impulses, shameful experiences, taboo mental images, immoral urges, fears, irrational wishes, and unacceptable sexual desires are all common parts of our shadows.
Our shadow parts are like an Iceberg— we can only see the tip of the iceberg that pokes out of the water, but beneath the water lies a huge mass of ice. That mass of ice is where our shadows are buried in the unconscious mind.
When someone triggers us, that person is actually shining a light on our unconscious mind. They’re giving us the opportunity to look at our own deep beliefs, and the opportunity to see more of who we are and find our lost or fragmented selves.
Ultimately, our goal is to integrate the shadow and stop rejecting parts of our personality that we hate, are ashamed of or embarrassed by and find ways to bring them forward into our everyday lives. I’m not talking about posting your newly integrated shadow parts on Facebook—but I am inviting you to examine and own these parts within yourself for your own peace.
The shadow self can act like a disobedient child. Hence my desire to inappropriately deal with my daughter’s new boyfriend.
If you have experience with Shadow Work, drop a comment below! I would love to hear what you’ve tried, what works for you and what doesn’t.
If you’re new to this journey, like I am, and want updates on the things I learn along the way send me your email address and I’ll send you links to the newest posts as they’re released.
You can also join me on Facebook at @BraveNewMe and @MessOlogy. Guaranteed nuggets of lunacy and inspiration with a dash of hot mess, we’ll tackle the sh*t that throws us off-game and have some fun along the way!!
PS… Coming soon The MessOlogy Podcast!