The first blog post of a 3-part series on Evolving Through Relationships.
The Shadow Self
We are attracted to people that share similar qualities to us. But we are also attracted to people who have qualities we are wanting for ourselves, consciously or unconsciously. This is where the old saying applys, "opposites attract". At first t
his can be very appealing. We bask in the energy of the other person. It feels good to be around them and an empty space inside ourselves is filled. It feels great. But eventually our own grief begins to surface as to why we have not been able to cultivate these qualities in ourselves.
This is when understanding how to work with your own shadow is so valuable. Otherwise, in our grieving process, we don't always take ownership of our emotions that are rising. We begin to turn to the other person and place blame and project our pain onto them. This can create a deep revine of unresolved pain between you and the other person and most often result in endless struggle, separation, and a self-fullfilling prophecy.
What's happening is that you are growing and beginning to develop the qualities you loved in the other person within yourself. And as you do this, you begin to encounter your own personal beliefs, wounds and patterns as to why this part of yourself has never been expressed and has remained in the shadows. Perhaps there was a past event or situation that led you to believe this part of yourself wasn't good or worthy of being loved. Or maybe it's a familial pattern that you've inherited that goes back many generations. If not familial, perhaps it's a cellular memory.
So what do you do? How do you traverse the landscape of unearthing the shadow self?
First, I recommend refraining from blaming. Blaming is the detour people take when they begin to experience grief and pain. It's like suddenly realizing you're holding something heavy and painful and you want to pass it off as quickly as possible so you hand it to someone else in the form of blame. Allow the feelings to come up and breathe through them. If you need someone to be with you, then find someone who you feel safe with while you let the feelings come and wash through you.
Meditate and let your shadow self appear. Establish a relationship with your shadow self. Get to know your shadow by asking your shadow what it needs, what it has to say, what it's feeling. Remember, this is a part of yourself that YOU put into the shadows. Fearing that this part of yourself was somehow bad and needed to be hidden, is the only reason it's in the shadows. So being willing to sit with this part of yourself with love and acceptance is HUGE in healing this part of yourself.
Have a great deal of compassion for yourself during this process. This part of yourself that has been kept in the dark, buried in your own psyche has been wounded and misunderstood. Most often this happens when we're quite young. As childern we are all keen observers of our families and other adults. We carefully study how to respond "appropriately" to situations and how to react. If our parent(s) fear a particular part of themselves, then we will too. We will take on the pattern of their response. So understanding that this belief, wound, and/or pattern was taken on by your child self in order to feel safe, accepted and loved by the adults in your life helps to have the much needed compassion for self that is so necessary in healing your shadow.
In consclusion, our relationships provide us with the gateway to the parts of ourselves that need our love and attention. It is not so much a journey with the other person as much as it is with ourselves.
With trust, faith, and love for yourself, you can work with your feelings and bring your shadow into the light. Before you know it, your shadow will be healed and fully integrated. You have the power to transform your life and live and express yourself however you want. Taking responsibility for your own shadow and recognizing that your relationships provide you with mirrors, helps to create long-lasting and deeply nourishing relationships.