Have you ever tried to hide a part of yourself from others or even to hide from yourself? This aspect could be either positive or negative. For some reason you are reluctant to face this part of yourself. Maybe it is a trait that does not fit your values. Could it be a latent talent you have yet to develop? Shedding light on the shadow ultimately frees up a lot of energy that you are currently using to keep the aspect hidden. This part of you is hidden for a reason – often for a sense of safety and comfort. Possibly this part of you is trapped by your beliefs and weighted down by shame or fear. For example, people hide addictions from themselves or others and the addictive aspect is sent to live in the shadow. How often do you hear in the news that a spokesperson for some cause is caught doing the very thing they speak against? These are examples of shadow.
Today, please do the following exercise for finding those who live in the shadowlands of your internal wilderness:
- Think of 5 traits you really like about yourself, then write them in a list. Next to each, write down how you display this trait. For example, I choose “open-minded” and I display it through “curiosity.”
- Now narrow the list to one trait by any means you choose – strongest feeling, intuition, random, or alphabetical. Whichever means you choose will be the correct one.
- Give this trait a name fit for a likable personality.
- Now consider what would be the opposite of this trait. What would this personality find distasteful, react from negatively, or meet with downright disapproval? In the example, the opposite of “open-mindedness” might be “closed-mindedness.”
- How does the opposite make you feel? Do you see this quality in anyone you know? Do you have this trait within you? In the example, “closed-minded” feels restricted, the people who portray “closed-mindedness” seem limited, and I might be “closed-minded” sometimes myself. This shadow work doesn’t mean that I am “closed-minded” but it does mean that I am giving “closed-mindedness” my energy. Are you giving your energy to shadow? How does this serve you?
- Consider what it might feel like to simply have a neutral reaction to this shadow? Would that require a change in values or beliefs? Get to know the likeable aspect you named as well as the possible shadow monster that may have been revealed.