Teresa Brooks Life Coaching

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WHAT’S THAT LURKING IN THE SHADOWS? Part 1

In recent blogs I have written about personal qualities (the core elements that define who you are in the word) and how to look after them. I have been recommending the appreciation of ALL qualities, those you consider good enough as well as the qualities you may have assessed as being in short supply. Doing appreciation honestly and sincerely is such a great way to care for your consciousness and support and strengthen your spirit.

” But what about the parts of my behaviour that I really don’t like?” you might ask.” I’m certainly not proud of some aspects and do my best to control them. Sometimes I just lose the plot,”

The world renowned psychologist, Carl Jung, explored what he called the ‘shadow’ side of human behaviour. An easier read is Debbie Ford’s book entitled, The Dark Side of Light Chasers. In the chapter called, Chasing down the Shadows, she writes eloquently about the shadow self.

She acknowledges that the shadow wears many faces; fearful, greedy, angry, vindictive, selfish, manipulative, lying, controlling, demanding, judgemental…….and the list goes on. Our shadow side acts as a store house for all the unacceptable aspects of ourselves– all the things we often work hard at not showing because they embarrass us. Debbie Ford says that these are the faces that we don’t want to show the world and don’t want to show ourselves either. She reminds us that what we hate, resist or disown about ourselves takes on a life of it’s own, undermining our feelings of worthiness.

Debbie Ford suggests that we learn about the shadow in childhood when we are developing our moral code; this is good/ this is bad. In an attempt to teach this distinction, the message of “..don’t be..” is used and internalised. For example, “..don’t be angry…..don’t be mean….. don’t be greedy.” Because the feelings are real but not acceptable, a conclusion is drawn that to express these behaviours or feelings makes us unacceptable and therefore unworthy.

When we come face to face with our shadow, the first instinct is to turn away, deny its existence and push it away as far as possible…..anything, so as not to deal with it. The irony is that its these hidden aspects we’ve rejected that need the most attention. Debbie Ford says that when we lock away those rejected parts, we are sealing away valuable treasure. Unknowingly,  we are ignoring valuable information which is the key to liberation.

On the surface, it seems quite ridiculous to suggest that there is something of value  in the shadows. How could anger, manipulation and judgement have a positive side or a lesson to teach? Debbie Ford points out that these ‘treasures’ come to our attention regularly but we are conditioned to push them down. By not allowing these aspects of ourselves to exist, we are forced to expend psychic energy to keep them beneath the surface of our awareness. Debbie Ford describes this as sitting on a beach ball and we all know how successful that is in the longer term! She reminds us that we can’t have the full experience of the light (enlightenment) without knowing the dark. The challenge is to overcome the distaste and fear of confronting and embracing the shadow

Whether we like it or not, we all have a shadow side. If you refuse to recognise that about yourself, it has a way of rearing its head when you least expect it. And isn’t that embarrassing? !! Debbie Ford suggests that it is not enough merely to acknowledge the shadow. For example, ” I know I am controlling.” This knowledge alone does not inform you about the underlying reasons for this behaviour. Only by exploring this part will you discover what ‘controlling’ has to teach, what gifts it brings (strategies, pointers to strengths you may not have previously considered etc.) Only then, you will be able to view this aspect of yourself with compassion and gratitude.

Within ourselves we possess every trait and its polar opposite. Our job is to uncover, own and embrace all of who we are; the good, the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’. This is the movement towards wholeness.

Carl Jung coined the phrase, ‘the gold is in the dark’.

An example of finding treasure in our flaws brought to mind the story of The Wizard of Oz. The characters in this story found their ‘gold’ by confronting their weaknesses; the Scarecrow found his brain, the Tinman found his heart and the Lion found his courage.

Likewise for us, by acknowledging and exploring our particular ‘flaws’, we will find the lessons and therefore the gifts that those particular parts were created to give.

I encourage you to be open to the possibility

Be kind to yourself.

Examples of the gifts that are hiding in the shadows will be posted in part 2 of this topic.

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