I discovered something about myself recently that I’m not sure I’m very proud of, But I felt the insight was worthy of sharing. I discovered the shadow in me. It peeked out of my bag and I, though fearful, allowed it out to play.
We all have one or two qualities that we know need some work, however, to suddenly discover my shadow, let it out of my bag of ‘secrets’ and REALLY look at it was quite unnerving, but I was determined.
A trait or aspect of your personality that you repress or hide, for fear of criticism; a quality you are afraid to show & one which subconsciously prevents you living more expanded and joyfully).
Discovering this particular shadow, one I had suspected was there in moments when it peeked out of the bag, sent me off balance a little.
The term ‘Shadow’ was first used by Carl Jung to describe the repressed or denied part of the self. You see when we’re born, we use to express with abandon and without censorship: All of our feelings and moods and quirks and foibles, without censorship or compunction, But we quickly come to learn that sometimes the way we express or parts of our personality are not valued or accepted by the people around us (and usually closest to us).
Recipe for creating The Shadow
Perhaps you were ridiculed and our opinion not taken seriously, or maybe you were shamed when upset and called names or your upset & pain ignored; perhaps you weren’t allowed to express your pride when you achieved something, perhaps you were criticised instead? There are may reactions to our words, deeds and behaviours that cause us to see them as ‘undesirable.’
Once we realise this part of us or this behaviour is not accepted, we decide to squirrel it away. We begin to repress it; hide those traits and qualities we see as shameful or undesirable, we learn to hide away the anything that caused us pain as a result of it being shown.
Hidden but not forgotten
Though we ‘squirrel’ these feelings away, somewhere in our psyche we still carry them with us. It’s as though we put a sack or our backs and continue to ‘lug’ these parts we are afraid to show, the denied parts, the parts we feel we need to repress around with us.
Every time you deny yourself their expression another is added to the bag, and another and another, until the bag becomes so heavy so burdensome we can become ill. Hopefully, we become so angry or so tired of bending ourselves into a pretzel to suit whoever and whatever, your inner spirit finally shouts: ‘ENOUGH!’
The shadow can be positive or negative.
- Positive: You develop a positive habit in order to gain approval you may develop a habit which garners approval from those around you, but one which is not allowing you to be your ‘authentic self.’ Even though seen as positive, it is still a ‘shadow’ trait if it means you deny or repress what would be a natural response or behaviour for you. If you feel you’re somehow ‘holding back’ a natural part of yourself.
- Negative: You are constantly straining to hide an undesirable ‘shadow’ trait that you’d prefer others didn’t see because you are unconfident about it or feel others will see you negatively because of it.
Developing another way of behaving to avoid slipping into the behaviours you know others around you do not approve of (more often than not the criticism comes from a place of insecurity or jealousy on their part), is exhausting and damaging to the psyche and the emotions. Constantly hiding or denying a part of yourself is eventually going to cause you pain, but as a child, when you were disapproved of or criticised you didn’t understand that, did you?
My Shadow Revealed
I Am a People Pleaser
… even as I write it I wince! I feel a bit of a fraud. But, I know one thing, I want it exorcised and out of my bag! This realisation didn’t come to me in a flash I had to dig for it.
It all started a few weeks ago (I wrote this post several weeks ago, but was too afraid to post it – My shadow again!) when one of my blogs was selected to be the “Blog of the day” for the “Wellness Universe;“ a forum and platform for Wellness Professionals and people like me who just want to do our bit to make the world a better place.
I was rightly proud, so I posted the link on Facebook, but three words I used in the intro to the post really seemed at odds and evoked an emotional response in me.
They were: “It’s no biggie.” I realised that I always DO that, but why?
I downplay my achievements and ‘play small.’ I strive to always ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’ that way I will always win approval.
Yet my vision for my life, my future & me is to be HUGE. I know I have so much to give the world and my mission is to help others discover and show their light; to help them blind you with their brilliance and learn how to shine without excuse and to know how to do so much sooner than I.
Not too loudly, Not too bright, Not too high
It’s not people pleasing in an obsequious or arrogant way you understand, (well, I hope not!) but in a way that I fly just under the radar and do not shine too brightly; a way that means I don’t not sing too sweetly, so others criticise or chastise, so it draws too much attention. For those of you that know me, you may well be surprised, as I’m not exactly known to be a shrinking violet, but there IS MORE!
Yet, how can I hope to fully realise my ambition to be a fully realised and authentic hue-man, how will I meet my ambition to help others be the same; if I am still NOT truly open, still not truly stepping into my light?
I pondered this for some days and discovered my “why” and my “how.”
Starting again, and again and again
I became a people pleaser so I didn’t feel the hurt anymore; so I didn’t feel the pain of the criticism, the ridicule and the disapproval, but it also meant I didn’t ever meet my potential in anything. I did just enough for people to recognise I have talent and I was always promoted, but I never really Pushed through into the stratosphere of true success.
Just as I would grow wings and would really begin to fly, I would change direction or I’d be made redundant and make myself start again, from the bottom up.
Where did this come from:
As young children perhaps you were not allowed to celebrate your successes, I wasn’t…
If we’re not given the chance to feel joy, not even the joy of just being ourselves as I was; or you’re expected to play the ‘big sister/brother’ role and always to:
- Be sensible
- Set the example
- Know better
- Do as you’re told
- Not know too much
- Speak when spoken to
- Calm down (usually, when we’re particularly happy)
- Be quiet
- Sit still
- Don’t answer back
- Respect your elders (which usually meant do what they say even if they’re wrong or are hurting you in some way)
Then somewhere in your subconscious, you may have decided to play small.
- Because when I play small no-one gets hurt
- When I downplay my successes I don’t appear arrogant or ‘big-headed’
- When I play small I seem humble and self-effacing
- When I play small I’m less threatening
- When I play small I’m not criticised
- When I play small others approve of me (who doesn’t want their family and friends to look at them and be proud?)
- When I play small no-one has to explain my behaviour or make excuses for me
- When I play small society accepts me
I’m sure you get the picture
Enough, enough, enough, Enough!
I’d had ENOUGH. I want to be fully realise, fully functioning, fully aware of & loving of myself; the whole 360 of me.
By bringing our shadow into the light (that may simply be a share with one or two close friends or family or a wider more exposed announcement) we’re being the bravest version of ourselves we can be.
- What qualities are you hiding?
- What talents are you containing?
- What feelings are you protecting out of fear?
When you expose your soft underbelly as well as hold yourself accountable for ALL that you are you are no longer afraid.
There is no criticism or that can hurt you, no ridicule or disapproval that causes you to wince because they’re not revealing anything you don’t already know and recognise about you and guess what?
You’re working on it…
that’s the very best you can Do…
And that’s OK…
Blissings & Much Love,