You have a ‘shadow’ side and you may not know about it. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Carl Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” I’m curious; what would your life be like if you brought light to this shadow side of yourself?
Former Canadian Member of Parliament, Svend Robinson, stood for truth, justice, and integrity; his political career was cut short because of a shoplifting charge. Michael Jackson loved children and championed many causes on their behalf; he was arrested for having sex with a minor. Mel Gibson made highly spiritual films and while being arrested by Police for drunk driving, raged with anti-Semitic comments. Gordon Campbell, while holding the Office of the Premier of the Province of British Columbia, was arrested for drunk driving. All of these are examples of the ‘shadow’.
What are your shadows? Here’s a hint: it’s anything you say you’re not. Your partner says, ‘You’re stubborn’, you say, ‘I’m not that’. Guess what? You’re STUBBORN! It’s that simple. And it’s the same for anything else you say you are or are not. Plus, your shadow is that which you judge someone else as being.
I’m a time cop. I’m the guy that reminds you that you’re late. It drove me crazy that I judged people for being late all the time. So I took my own medicine and went inside, to my inner wisdom, and this question accompanied me, “Where are you late in your life, Thomas?” As it turned out, at the time, I was late filing my taxes, late replying to emails, sleeping in late, and late in providing answers to questions my partner would pose to me. With humility I gave up the persona of time cop. There is a part of me that can be late and I’m learning how to love it.
I carried the shadow of gay for most of my life. In an attempt, like the folks I describe in the opening paragraph, I too tried to cover up that shadow part of me. I did a lot of things that I felt were the furthest thing from gay. I went as far as getting married, to a woman, for four years. That was my way of hiding the shame I felt, not wanting the disapproval of family and friends and ultimately doing everything I could to self-sabotage my life.
Your ‘shadow self’ – the part of you that continues self-punishing patterns and sabotages your success may be ready for some light. Imagine a part of you, that you have denied being for all of your life, actually having strength. That is what’s available to us when we dare to bring light to our shadows.
I’m sure there has been a time when being a ‘_______’ (you fill in the blank) served you well. So what compels you to hide or deny that part of you? Carl Jung said, “I’d rather be whole, than good.” Shadows serve a purpose, but we must be willing to discover what they are.
Debbie Ford reminds us, “Imagine, suddenly your perceived insecurities and defects are powerful teachers. What about making peace with disowned parts of yourself, awaking to the profound realization that these parts of you, that you’ve rejected, are actually the keeper of your greatest gifts?”
Besides the shadow knowing, what if you knew? Who could you be in the world, that you are not being now?