When I hear the word shadow I think of that vintage television show “The Shadow”. However, I am referring to our shadow side which Carl Jung had explored in his work and more recently showed up in the late Debbie Ford’s The Shadow Effect books and DVD.
Over the past week, I signed up with an online spiritual summit called Money Intuition hosted by Summer McStavick, the founder of Hay House Radio and Flow Dreaming. While I found all the interviews and free gifts (training video series, meditation mp3s, and surveys), overwhelming, they led me back to the shadow. I found Debbie Ford’s DVD online (with Italian subtitles) which I watched again.
And I learned three things:
1. We all have a shadow side (repressed emotions, desires, shame, guilt)
2. If we don’t deal with our shadow, it deals with us in the form of self-sabotage
3. When we acknowledge our shadow and integrate it into our personality, the shadow brings gifts
In the movie, the speakers from the fields of energy medicine, new thought and psychotherapy, show us dramas enacted by the shadow on large and small scales. First, there is the collective shadow which we witness in the form of genocide, holocausts, corporate greed that leaves people starving in the streets, and political scandals. The collective shadow implies that we all feed into it with our fears, anxieties, hostilities, and stronger emotions we suppress so that we can appear civilized.
We project our shadows onto a political, corporate leader or celebrity. When they fall from grace, instead of expressing compassion, we cheer. But not always, those of us who sense the bigger picture understand that the people who suffer those tragedies have actually shed light on their inner darkness and the real healing begins for them. I’m thinking of a radio interview (YouTube), with English folksinger Billy Bragg after the death of Margaret Thatcher.
Politically, Billy Bragg and Margaret Thatcher were not on the same page, and Bragg rallied against Thatcher politics and world domination. But when Thatcher died (after undergoing her fall from grace), Bragg didn’t celebrate. His words were philosophical and sober while he asked others not to celebrate Thatcher’s death. It’s clear to me that Bragg has some understanding that any of us are capable of acting out our shadow and we all do this without our knowledge. However, when we sabotage ourselves again, we meet our shadow face-to-face.
In the movie, Debbie Ford gives the example of a swimmer holding down several beach balls underneath the water in a pool. When a handsome man distracts the swimmer, suddenly she loses control and all the beach balls rise to the surface, to her chagrin. This happens to all of us, no exceptions. We call these moments self-sabotage and then we beat ourselves up, but there is another way to witness our shadows.
Therapists and coaches help us in acknowledging our shadows by showing us what we refuse to see. And yes, we return to different times in our childhoods where someone shamed us for having normal and not normal feelings (deemed by our culture and society). Perhaps, these authority figures or peer groups, labeled us greedy, lustful, perverted or something else that caused us deep shame. So we created masks to cover up those shameful parts of ourselves and to appear saintly or at least civilized.
Someone who grows up in an intensely religious home but has erotic thoughts as a child, especially around other children, stuff those feelings into the subconscious. Then this person develops a hostility towards pedophiles, prostitutes and anything considered taboo in the sexual realm. In public this person acts prim and prude while pointing the finger at people who wrongly and rightly express their sexuality. Then one day, the shadow implodes and the person does the worst thing and molests a child. Now, the light has exposed the shadow so hopefully a road to healing and integration appears. Then eroticism finds a healthier outlet in the future that doesn’t harm another being.
Knowing about the shadow, helps us to develop compassion and to forgive others. We are less likely to point the finger and scoff at others when we realize that we are projecting our shadows on to them. Sometimes, as Marianne Williamson mentions in the DVD, other people’s behavior simply informs us, but when we feel a charge from someone’s behavior, rest assured we are dealing with a shadow. However, when we expose our shadows to the light in therapy or through writing in a journal, we can integrate that shadow into our personality and heal the roots of the shame, guilt and other dark feelings in regard to the shadow.
When we do this, we see that we are truly Divine Children of God who are whole. Also mentioned in the movie, we balance light and dark, yin and yang, above with below, and find our authentic selves and gifts in the shadow. This isn’t to say that that the healers and teachers promote violence, greed, lust etc, but that we all have those potentials inside us. Acknowledging that we are everything that there is takes us that much closer to enlightenment. And I believe that this current age represents the integration of light and shadow so that we experience fullness and totality. We reflect on the true meaning of Unity Consciousness. Own the shadows before they take ownership of us.
And really, I believe that if we all took responsibility for our shadows, the world would heal, just like that. We talk about restoring balance to the planet and we can’t do that without integrating the darkness into light. There’s a saying in the new age communities, there is no out there, there is only what’s inside you. If we don’t enjoy what we see in the world, then taking a courageous look into our hearts reminds us that there is only ONE of us here. We’re all connected so let’s heal the illusion of separation once and for all. Embrace the shadow.
I am an astrologer and intuitive coach for creatives. I give in-person readings in Bellingham, Washington or e-mail readings for long distance clients. Sign up for a reading at Whole Music & Whole Astrology.