Chapter  Nine

The Shadow

The Shadow, as I refer to it, is simplified as "negative thoughts and beliefs that each of us have that were mostly, but not always, formed in early childhood."  Beliefs like "I'm not lovable, I'm not good enough, I must be good or they will send me away" and many more.

            

This conversation about The Shadow is a model, a visual tool that I use to distinguish those parts of myself that are hidden from my conscious awareness, though usually visible to others.  As we go through our life (facing the sun) our Shadow trails out behind us, hidden from us, but very influential in running our daily lives, doing a great job of keeping us from being who we truly want to be, who we deeply know ourselves to be.

The Shadow is deeply embedded in our psyche, but it is a powerful force in our lives, often making decisions for us that we think are actually conscious choices.

The Shadow is so important because if we are not aware of it's many aspects in us, if we do not learn to recognize its many faces, if we do not confront and eventually embrace our Shadow aspects, we won't be able to Design Our Lives, we will be stuck in the life that it has created for us.


  


Recently I have come to (re)discover that I love to perform in front of others, to present my talents when singing along with playing my guitar, of memorizing and performing poetry, of speaking my thoughts and understandings to others about the mysteries of being human and human interactions.

The demons, the dragons, the Voices that I have begun to confront and to eventually embrace were "I'm not good enough", "What if I screw it up and look foolish?", "What will They think?", and others.


   
 

These Voices that work to hold me back from full self expression are not doing this to me to destroy me, to ruin my life.  Some of my Voices are there to protect me.  Protect me from perceived dangers and threats to my very existence.  Most of my Voices, however, are the “should” and the “should not” messages of other people, of my culture, of my religion, my education, my parents and peers, and more. 

These Voices were planted in my psyche waaaay back when I was an infant, a child, and adolescent, a teenager, even as an adult, out of events and interactions with others that I perceived as dangerous, as threats, humiliations, as devastating to my very existence.

The key word here is "perceived".  Actual dangers? Real threats?  Maybe, maybe not -- but that doesn't matter.  If they are perceived as "real", then the mind treats them the same as if they were real.  A parent's voice raised in anger to an infant or a child is perceived as dangerous, threatening.  It doesn't "appear" real -- It IS real.





Once that perception is made and becomes an "IS real", then every time a similar "threat" shows up, it reinforces The Shadow's need to protect or control me.  This is not logical, this doesn't have to make sense, this isn't necessarily for my own good or to make my life easier and more fulfilling.  Actually it makes my life seem more difficult and less fulfilling.

How does one deal with The Shadow so that we're not constantly run by them any more?
 


To continue to the next page, "A Shadow Story", click here.