“The notion that a human being should be constantly happy, is a uniquely modern, uniquely American, uniquely destructive idea”. – Andrew Weil
“Shadow” noun, shad-ow/ \ˈsha-(ˌ)dō\: the dark figure cast upon a surface by a body intercepting the rays from a source of light, Jungian psychology: an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. In short, the shadow is our “dark side”.
It seems that each post I share, each piece I write, I tend to mention all these very ‘significant’ lessons and revelations that I have come to learn along the way. However, as I sit here now reflecting on the piece that I am about to share, I realize with all certainty and with complete conviction that there is not one lesson I have learned, that has been as significant as this. The process of facing my own shadow, or as Carl Jung called it “the path of the heart warrior”.
Every single lesson, every single revelation, every single new ‘aha’ moment, links right back to this. It all, always, no matter what, seems to connect back to the avoidance of that which we do not want to feel. That which we do not want to face, that which we deem ‘unworthy’ ‘unacceptable’ ‘weak’ ‘depressing’ ‘painful’ ‘boring’ ‘unpleasant’. Attaching to people for fear of being alone, attaching to nutrition for fear of sickness, attaching to aesthetics and approval for fear of feeling rejected. Consistently avoiding our own shadow, neglecting such a significant part of our being. After all, we should always no matter what, be happy, healthy, busy, flying high, meeting expectations and excited about life, right?
Why is accepting a just as authentic, so-called ‘imperfect’, ‘darker’ part of ourselves (and others) such a b*tch?
Our world seems to be overloaded with escapism, avoidance and finding new highs to avoid old the lows. We are surrounded by the notion that we should always be happy, always thriving, pushing forward, becoming the best version of ourselves, ‘suck it up’ and keep busy. Feeling tired? sad? depressed? anxious? worried? “Here’s a drink, pill, and magic potion. Brush it off, keep smiling and you’ll be fine. Whatever you do, maintain society’s expectations and standards at all costs, because feeling anything other than good is bad.” I can’t help but feel like we must be caught up in some twisted Stepford wives sh*t.
“We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” – Carl Jung
When did this happen? When did we decide that numbing ourselves from feeling anything other than what is expected from us was okay? How did we get to the point where prescription pads became the ‘go to’ solution for any slight deviation in “the norm”? How did burn-outs become “all the rage”? If working hard is applauded, why does this apply to everything other than on our own true well-being?
We seem to constantly be reaching for the light, avoiding the dark, always keeping up appearances, running from our own shadow. And judging others for theirs. Forgetting that we can only be whole, and complete when we can truly bring consciousness to our own darkness. When we allow ourselves to feel that which we need to feel, and not just that which we want to feel. When we can accept that it’s not just about “staying positive and happy no matter what”. That sometimes we need to not be okay, we need to feel low, we need to be lonely, sad, depressed, angry, how else will all the ‘good stuff’ have any true value? How can there ever be true balance if we are only tending to one side of the scale?
“Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries”. – Carl Jung
That which gives us true depth and dimension
The most liberating thing I have experienced thus far, is without a doubt, ‘being okay with not being okay’. The most freeing thing I have learned along the way has been to honor my shadow without being consumed by darkness. Realizing that it is that dark, raw, realness which gives us true depth and dimension.
Acknowledging that this thing which is in every single one of us is what truly connects us to ourselves and to others. Allowing the so-called ‘bad’ as much space as the so-called ‘good’. The art form starts when we can learn to govern this part of ourselves. When we can feel, acknowledge, allow, without becoming consumed by it. Without losing ourselves within our own darkness. Without having to self-medicate, numb out or run away from the dark. Let it be, rather than let it go. Moving through it rather than moving past it.
“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.” – RUMI
We are not made to go through life always happy, bubbly and full of joy. We are multi-dimensional beings. We are here to experience every single dimension of ourselves, the good, the bad and the ugly. When we can move through our darkness, allow our shadow to cast itself, and give it the time it needs, only then can we truly move toward real bliss. To return to true wholeness. And not some robotic, shiny, go-lucky, processed thing that we are told is the way of life.
When we can recognize our shadow, as it presents itself in our emotions, feelings, our dreams, and even reflects back to us in others. Realizing that no circumstance or person has the power to make us feel any way other than that it is simply triggering a part of us we have not been listening too. When we can sit there and feel, listening to the hurt, offense, rage, irritation, boredom and anything else considered ‘unpleasant’, only then can we truly start to heal, grow and experience real joy and light.
“Touching the shadow is deep compassion with parts of ourselves that we avoid with all we have. Love thy enemy within”. – Dimitri Halley
As I choose to continue to walk the path of the heart warrior, respecting all dimensions of myself, equally, and practicing this within others as well. As I continue to climb into the abyss of my mind and bring light to my shadow, I cannot begin to explain how truly raw and beautiful this life becomes! I would encourage anyone to shed their layers, explore their own depths and experience true freedom.
Love & light,