It’s sunny and warm and summery out today, so in true yogic spirit, I’m bringing in a bit of the opposite – The Shadow.
I first was introduced to The Shadow when I took Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind course last year. Betsy is a psychologist and a yoga teacher, so she brings a really interesting, enlightening integrated perspective that combines yoga philosophy, scientific research, and psychology. According to her notes, the “Human Self” is made up of the Ego, the Shadow Self, the Inner Child, and the Pain Body. The Shadow Self is made up of parts we’ve repressed – unconscious parts of ourselves that we see as undesirable. This is the Mr. Hyde to our Dr. Jekyll.
The Shadow Self seems like something we would want to avoid and push away, but turning the light of our attention to it is actually the key to elevating consciousness. When we don’t look at what is contained in our shadow, we are not wise to its influence. We unconsciously project what is hidden in the Shadow onto the people and circumstances around us – blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming The Other for everything that is wrong in our lives, when in actuality, our perception is inaccurate due to the veil of the shadow through which we are unknowingly peering.
Creating a right relationship with our shadow self not only helps us gain more insight into “Who Am I, really?” but it also can “lead us back to our buried potentials.” Through “shadow-work” we can develop more self-acceptance, as we are accepting who we really are, not just who we want to be or who we want others to think we are. “…Only by making friends with the shadow do we gain the friends of the self.” (Quotes are taken from Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature).
Meeting the Shadow suggests an interesting exercise to help you start to get to know your shadow: describe a personality type that you find unbearable and impossible to get along with. This produces a list of your own repressed qualities. I did this exercise this morning, and it was quite uncomfortable. Here is a snippet of my list of qualities I find really annoying:
- She is confrontational.
- She is unpredictable, unreliable. You never know where you stand.
- She willfully misunderstands.
- She lacks confidence and needs constant validation.
- She is sneaky.
- She talks too much and should listen more.
- She is a know-it-all.
- She wants to be care of.
I then took this list and, and pulling a page from Byron Katie’s The Work, substitute “I” for “She.”
- I need constant validation.
- I willfully misunderstand
- I am sneaky.
- I lack confidence and need constant reassurance
- I talk too much and should listen more.
- I am unreliable.
- I want to be taken care of.
Ugh. Some of that hit very close to home. I can see why I find these qualities so annoying, as these are things I least like about myself; the things I have tried to hide and ignore and pretend are not there. But by bringing these qualities to light and examining them with compassionate acceptance, I can start to integrate my Shadow Self. “Whatever has been repressed holds a tremendous amount of energy, with great positive potential.” (Meeting the Shadow). Also, realizing that other people annoy me because of qualities I myself hold helps me be a little bit more patient and kind with them.
What personality type really annoys and frustrates you? Is there some gold in there for you?
The need to examine The Shadow is a theme that keeps reappearing in a variety of different areas lately (books, Archetype cards, Instagram, podcasts), which usually means it’s a current that’s flowing through others’ minds as well, so I figured I would share this exercise, since I found it uncomfortably insightful.
Also, Huehue, with the advent of the full moon this week and his 9th week of life on this planet, has become the doggo version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is all sweetness and puppy kisses one moment, and then BAM – all shark teeth and barking zoomies the next. It’s super bonkers.
To offset this slightly darker-than-usual post, I am going to share an amazing gluten-free cookie recipe with you: Coconut Flour Cookies. These cookies are BETTER than the gluttony ones, IMHO, and they are super easy to make. I was going to take a picture of them so that you can see how tasty they look, but they look (and ARE) so tasty, that I ate them before I took the picture. They are SO GOOD.
Space to be Human Updates
- NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool.
Thanks for reading my friends! If you discover any interesting insights as you do your own shadow work, and you care to share, I care to listen (I DO need to listen more!).