“I wrote about how that which seems wrong and painful is often responsible for uncovering one’s limitations and ignorances, and thus worthy of thanks.” -Sept 21, 2016
Shadows, what are they and why do we have/need them? Last year when I wrote my second “Camino in Writing” entry, I was trying to articulate what catapulted me on my walk, and why it was essential in transforming the hindrances in my relationships, most notably with my self. I was also trying to express the attitude of gratitude I discovered I needed to have for my “enemies”, my shadows, that inspired my walk.
Our shadows are simply unconscious aspects of ourselves that are not acknowledged/accepted by our selves, thus lending to inner tension, and most often outer turmoil, before we are ready to OWN and integrate those aspects of ourselves. Shadows often show up for us in the shape of other people we have strong feeling towards, whether those feelings be of attraction or repulsion, hatred or lust. These other people served as mirrors for our shadow material, though until we recognize their service as reflective catalyst, we tend to unwittingly demonize or idealize them.
Though I am all up for the self-empowering practice of discerning whether a person, and more so a relationship with them, serves to heal or hurt us; I feel it is at least as important to recognize that although people can make choices that adversely or positively impact us, more often the power and choice of response lies within us. How we relate and respond to the weather systems blowing through our personal universe is a power no being other than “I” can cultivate and grow.
If an individual triggers a REACTION versus a RESPONSE from of us, especially if it shows up frequently as a patterned reaction to similar circumstances, then there is a strong chance the exchange (and not necessarily the person) is simply highlighting for us a personal shadow. And, considering the very nature of shadow material is that it is hard to see on our own; we can come to appreciate the incredible gift and usefulness that others help us become conscious of our hidden baggage by reflecting it back at us. Painful or otherwise, they help us to open the rucksack (or rut-sack as I like to call it) and start doing our laundry.
I can’t help but recommend a great read “shadow” resource: “Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature”, edited by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams.