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Embracing The Shadow

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I talked about this on a Facebook Live I did, but it made such an impact on me, thought it might be worth putting in writing. I read a lot and listen to a TON of audible books. So much so that I realized it’s been way too long since I’ve listened to music (which I love too! ah, so little time) But I digress…

I wanted to talk to you about Carl Jung and his concept of the Shadow. Quick Psych lesson if you’re unfamiliar: Carl Jung and Alfred Adler were psychiatrists who were students of Sigmund Freud. They are truly the founders of psychology and their theories varied vastly. However, they all had a few gems that we still refer to often today in the Psych world.

One of Carl Jung’s big theories was that of making our “shadow” conscious. He said that when we could embrace all the things that we dislike about ourselves and integrate them, rather than hide from them, we find wholeness. And it is in the wholeness that we find peace.

I read this book by Debbie Ford, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, that was highly influenced by Jung’s work. She passed away a few years ago, but her life’s work was on helping others embrace their “shadow” and find healing in it. The idea is this: if we deny part of ourselves, we are not embracing the whole-ness of us. Once we can embrace the whole-ness, only then can we find true love for all that we are.

So how might you do this? One of the techniques in the book has you write out all the things you do not like in others. So for example, “judgmental”, “ignorance”, “selfish”, etc. You might think of 3 people you know (or don’t know but know enough about them to know you don’t like them) and list out the qualities that bother you the most. Then go through each quality and find where you might have some of this. So for “judgmental” you might find some examples of times in which you too, have been judgmental.

This bring forth the common humanity in each quality. This functions from the idea that we are all one and when we embrace our own humanity, rather than hiding from it, we can be set free. This might be easy with some traits, where you can at least see times in which you had some of this. But what about some of the more difficult ones? Debbie Ford talks about traits of murderers and things that we could never imagine of ourselves. She talks that even if you know that you, in this life, in these circumstances, you cannot find any part of yourself that is this trait, you might put yourself in the shoes of this person. For example, had you lived their exact life, been raised in the exact same way, been given the same messages your entire life, might you have possibly had some of these same traits? Make sense?

Once you’ve done this, go through each trait and say out loud (looking in a mirror if possible) “I am _________(the trait)_______.” Say it until it loses meaning and power behind it.

We’ve heard that we get most annoyed with traits in others that we cannot accept in ourselves. There’s some real truth to this. Once you’ve done this, you will likely find that these traits that bothered you so much before, no longer seem to bother you anymore. You may find that while some things inform you now, they no longer affect you like they did before.

Even more, when you stop denying all aspects of yourself, you create a freedom to then find the “gift” in some of these traits you have previously denied. So where you have previously denied that you are “weird” for example, you might find the gift in being different, willing to express who you are, or the ability to see things from perspectives outside the mainstream. You can see how these gifts may have been beneficial in your life and even more so, how they can truly benefit you, now that you accept “weird” as part of your identity. Make sense?

I spent a good hour on this one night, and it turned things around for me in so many ways. I was able to see myself in a new and different light and began valuing all the parts of myself, the ones I was keeping under lock and key. I encourage you to do this, and then quite honestly, get the book. (link below) It’s a quick read with very practical tools for self-acceptance and self-love. And let’s be honest, we could all use more of that!

If this resonates with you and would like to talk more about self-acceptance and self-love, please set up a free call with me at www.journeytopresent.com/call. We’ll jump on a totally free call and see if we’d be a good fit to work together! I look forward to hearing from you!

Love, light, and gratitude,

Melissa

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1 thought on “Embracing The Shadow”

  1. Interesting post!
    I find deep shame impedes self-acceptance.

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