One of the most challenging spiritual lessons humans face is confronting the shadow. This returns me to the thought that anything we see in the outer world reflects what’s happening in our inner world. It’s an inside job. Everything happens on inner and outer levels. When we suppress certain emotions we deem dark or negative, we attract people and situations into our lives to act out those emotions for us.
However, our egos don’t want to hear this message. The ego would rather play the role of victim and blame everyone else for its dramas. In this regard, there are no “innocent victims”. As a society and even as individuals we walk around with happy faces plastered to our faces promoting this idea of civility while pushing any violent thoughts below the surface. You can feel this incongruent tension almost everywhere we go. In fact, I’ve walked into polite society situations where the tension felt so thick, I felt like running in the opposite direction. We have all encountered these situations.
Now, I’m all for genuine happiness, joy and harmony. But I’m not in favor of faking happiness while suppressing wounds, distorted beliefs and cognitive distortions. We’ll never find genuine happiness and denial on the same page. And we also won’t find authenticity on the same page with denial. The only path I know to developing authenticity, involves confronting the shadow, in whatever form it takes. In fact, no one will stand on the mountaintop of enlightenment without confronting the beast inside them, which only wants to express itself. When we suppress the shadow, we live in its prison walls, but when we acknowledge and integrate the shadow, we liberate ourselves and live authentically.
It’s true we grew up in environments where parents, peers and authority punished us for expressing our darker emotions, especially if we were members of a religious organization or community. Shadows are not welcome by most religions. Young girls were taught to stuff anger and young boys were told to stuff sadness and not to cry (even though tears provide a healthy release of emotions). So teen women who suffer from PMS had to keep their bitchy-ness under control, no raging Kali for them. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we found a connection between emotional repression and eating disorders such as bulimia. Overweight women have said in the past that when they felt angry or sad, they stuffed themselves with food.
But even worst, when we stuff emotions and create shadows that hide like dragons in the recesses of our minds, we attract violence into our lives. Women who don’t deal with their inner rage, can attract rape, molestation and domestic violence into their lives. They find themselves wearing the sexy dress, pretty smile and expressing a people-pleasing attitude which sends out conflicting messages if the women are repressing their authentic emotions. Not acknowledging shadows can lead us to all kinds of dark situations, but if we integrate those shadows we empower ourselves. Imagine what the world would be like if we integrated our shadows and stopped judging emotions as appropriate or inappropriate.
When we don’t allow ourselves or others to explore the full spectrum of emotions available to us, we invalidate ourselves and others. When we give others a short list of appropriate emotions to express, we basically tell boys they can’t explore their feminine side and we tell girls to never express rage which seems like more hypocrisy of a patriarchal society to me. And with Venus transiting in Aries during the month of May 2014 and Mars transiting in Libra, now is the time to reclaim our authenticity by shedding light on our shadows.
Let’s stop repressing anger and find healthy outlets for it. Even when someone who feels angry puts on a happy face, their rage seeps out in body language. Everyone sharing their space feels this energy. This reminds me of those cartoon characters with smoke coming out of their nostrils and ears. At least that’s the comical version of repressed rage. Better we deal with stronger emotions in a healthy and safe setting, rather than have those emotions boomerang back to us with unforeseen consequences. And if we believe that a butterfly flapping her wings in Japan can cause a tornado in Kansas, imagine what repressed anger does to the planet. Well, we can just watch the news and witness the effects.
Look for these Shadow Signs:
- Patterns that keep coming up with different people in our lives
- Behaviors in others that push our hot buttons or cause us to point the finger
- Behaviors we constantly criticize or rant about
- Generalizations about a particular ethnic group, age group, sex, or culture
- An addiction to confessional talk shows and the news
- Finding ourselves shouting at the radio or television during the news
- Harsh judgements of others who messed up
- Self-righteousness and smugness
- Fear of certain types of people or behaviors
- Micromanaging situations due to lack of trust in other people’s abilities
- Only meeting certain types of people such as people with flighty behavior
- Feeling victimized by others on-going
- Passive-aggressive behavior by a maligned group or individual
Remember that we all have shadows and recognizing our shadows leads to liberation and empowerment. The road to awakening consciousness provides us with numerous challenges, but at the moment, facing the shadow would bring peace and harmony to the planet. We would free ourselves to live authentic lives from the inside out.
I am an astrologer, intuitive coach for creatives and a novelist in Washington State. I give in-person readings in Bellingham (Canadians are welcomed) and I give readings online via e-mail. Whole Music and Whole Astrology