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Reflections on my Shadow

May 30, 2012 1 Comment

I had a beautiful weekend spending time with family.  The day following our return to DC, I had some down time while the boys were napping.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I don’t watch much TV but something led me to pick up the remote in that moment.  I ended up landing on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday from a week ago which featured the documentary “The Shadow Effect” featuring Debbie Ford, Marianne Willamson, and Deepak Chopra.  I had heard of the film, and had even bought it (and the book) for someone who was going through a difficult period, but I had never actually watched it for myself.  I thought I already knew what my “shadow” was and had already healed it.  Well, I was wrong about the latter. 

Our shadow is the dark part of ourselves that we try to keep hidden from the world.  The documentary gave some examples of how it shows up in our lives:  claiming someone else’s work as your own, yelling at your children, bouncing checks, lying, shoplifting, drinking too much, overeating, thinking negative thoughts about other people, harming ourselves and/or others, recurring anger, etc.  The film brilliantly illuminates where the shadow comes from and shares many examples of how to release it and/or use it in a more positive way.  One example of this is a little girl being made fun of at school who develops a mean attitude and hard exterior to make it seem like she is not phased by the comments of her schoolmates.  All through life, this girl turned woman holds on to that hard shell and it becomes who she is…she is trying to protect herself from harm, but doesn’t connect it back to the root of where it came from.  Deep inside, she wants to be loved but doesn’t know how to be vulnerable anymore because of what happened so many years ago.  Until she uncovers this pattern (shadow), she will not understand why she can’t find love or hold onto relationships (or whatever other challenges she’s facing due to her negagive attitude).

We all have a similar story of our lives…something happened, typically when we were children, that formed out outer persona.  Some of us have even tricked ourselves into believing it was a good thing…that was me.  In my very first blog, I shared a little about this.  I tricked myself into believing that I was a go-getter, determined, strong, hard worker, etc, and that I was the epitome of “success”.  What I didn’t realize was how hard I worked over the years to maintain the “perfection”…it was killing me.  It was causing me to choose career over more important things, to be upset when things were not perfect, to aggressively manage my “image”, to take on way more than I could manage, to never ask for help (because that would let people know I didn’t have it together), to lie to look good, to spend too much…you get the point.  It was not a good thing.

It came from a number of incidents that occured when I was younger that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough…one of which was experiencing racism from my middle school guidance counselor who assumed that I would not take the most advanced math courses so that I could be on the college “track”.  From that moment forward, I was determined to change the perception of black students…starting with me.  Some would say that’s a good thing, but when you’re so wrapped up in proving yourself, it is detrimental to your well being…I found that out the hard way in January of this year when I had finally pushed myself to the limit.

When I first started watching The Shadow Effect documentary, I was thinking “yeah, yeah, I know this already”, but then I was hit with the truth.  Although I knew what my shadow was, I had not completely mastered it.  Even in my spiritual practice, I find myself wanting so bad to be perfect in my walk that I sometimes forget to forgive myself when I make mistakes.  I was expecting myself to be perfect even though I just started actively practicing daily meditation, prayer, study, etc.  On the professional side, I find myself holding back because I don’t have that “perfect” idea to share instead of just allowing my raw thoughts to flow.

Although I know intellectually that I am a spiritual being in human form that will make mistakes every time I forget who I really am and start identifying with my humanity, I don’t always keep it at the forefront of my mind.  Every time I forget that I was made in the image and likeness of God, I will make mistakes, I will feel fear,  and I will see myself as small, weak, and vulnerable.  What I have to remember is that every challenge or mistake is an opportunity to express forgiveness and love (our only function here)…even to myself.  I still have some work to do to completely live in the light, but I am grateful for being one step further out of the darkness of my old ego-driven self.

“We’re often afraid of looking at our shadow because we want to avoid the shame or embarrassment that comes along with admitting mistakes. We feel that if we take a deep look at ourselves, we’ll be too exposed. But the thing we should actually fear is not looking at it, for our denial of the shadow is exactly what fuels it. One day I looked at something in myself that I had been avoiding because it was too painful. Yet once I did, I had an unexpected surprise. Rather than self-hatred, I was flooded with compassion for myself because I realized the pain necessary to develop that coping mechanism to begin with.” — Marianne Williamson

Keep shining!


Filed in: Releasing Fear

About the Author:

I used to live life shackled by fear, doubt, and worry. I put on a happy face while navigating my day-to-day duties, but I was emotionally drained, stressed, and unhappy. When I hit rock bottom, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was determined to live life differently. I knew there had to be another way. Out of that determination, and guidance from Spirit, the "Living in the Light" blog was born. It documents my spiritual journey out of the darkness and into the Light. After nine months of publicly sharing my journey, and consciously releasing my attachment to the ego, I experienced a powerful spiritual awakening. I went from living in fear, doubt, worry, and stress to complete inner peace. My greatest passion has become assisting others on their own journey to inner peace. My spiritual memoir, From Stress to Peace: An Intimate Journal on the Journey from Living in Darkness to Living in the Light, is available now on Amazon and Click the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about the From Stress to Peace 21-Day Challenge, Living in the Light Retreats, 1:1 sessions, and the Living in the Light Community - all of which are designed to support your journey to inner peace. I appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog and look forward to supporting you in any way I can!