Hide and Seek - Uncovering your Shadows
Shadows - no one likes to think there are things buried deep within themselves that are negatively impacting their lives. We all want to believe that we are amazing and flawless creatures - even if we rationally know that it is impossible to be perfectly light without any dark. Today I'm going to give you a few exercises you can do to discover your own shadows. Doing this work will allow you to be ready for next week's blog all about releasing, letting go or integrating them into who you authentically are.
In my last two blog posts, we talked about why doing shadow work was important and how to get started to uncovering your shadows. Today is all about action, the doing! These exercises will help you figure out where your shadows lie. Those negative traits and behaviors we all need to be aware of in order to move forward.
Our first exercise I like to call "Why?" If you have ever had a toddler or been around one, you know about the 'Why?" stage. I want to you take a similar approach, albeit without the whiny undertone, to digging into your shadows.
First - when you feel an extreme negative response to something, pause and ask yourself WHY is this thing bothering me so much? This works for a variety of emotional triggers and is a wonderful tool to digging deeper to the actual root of the issue. Keep asking yourself why until there are no more reasons.
Why am I so angry when people are late to meetings?
I feel like they are wasting my time.
Why do you feel like they are wasting my time?
I feel like my time is valuable and they are not appreciating that I have other things I could be doing instead of waiting for them.
Why do you think they don't understand how valuable your time is?
I feel like they think their time is more valuable than mine.
Why do you think that?
I feel like they think that just because I'm an assistant that they can walk all over me and that they don't respect me or my time.
So while I could continue digging into the why of this example, you see at the end, one of the issues that comes in is that the person doesn't feel respected by their peers. If you keep going, it may be that you are not feeling confident in your work or that you made a big mistake recently and feel like they are holding it against you when maybe you are the one feeling guilty about the mistake and are projecting that onto the individuals who are late to the meeting. This tool works for a variety of scenarios and I highly recommend that you jot down the areas of life where you get overly negatively emotional about. Jot them down in that journal I mentioned last week. Then when you have time to delve deeply into your WHY - you'll be amazed at some of the things that come up and on how long you've been carrying these feelings around with you.
Polarization of the Positive
The next exercise is to see the negatives buried within the positive aspects in your personality. Just because you see this aspect of your personality as a positive things, if taken to the extreme it can come all the way around to becoming a shadow.
For example, if you think of yourself as a good person who tries to always do the right thing - that's a positive aspect, right? However, if you look a little deeper, are you actually a perfectionist? Someone who can't let go of self judgement and expectations and see anything less than perfection as a failure? Write down a list of your top 5-10 positive traits. Then step back and see them from the opposite perspective. See the negative sides of the positive trait that you love about yourself.
10 Things I Hate About You
We all have certain people in our lives that we just can not stand. I mean, as much as our mamma's told us to not hate people, there are some people who just rub you the wrong way. In this exercise, I want you to think about a person who you really detest. Now write down a description of that person. Write down every aspect of that person you don't like, be as specific as possible. Once you've completed your description, I want you to reread what you wrote, but think about yourself as you read it with the underlining question - Is this my shadow self? Could some aspects of this person, who I dislike, show a hidden or suppressed side of myself? If you don't immediately see it, try creating descriptions for a couple of people who bug you and see if there are any patterns amongst the people. Often we dislike in others what we fear or dislike about ourselves. Give it a try and tell me what you think.
These exercises should give you a great place to start when seeing the negative or hidden aspects of ourselves. Next week, we'll be discussing once you have the awareness of the shadow, what do we do with that information? We'll talk about healing the shadow or integrating it into yourself, depending on what the shadow is.
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If you ever need any assistance, I'm here to help. I always offer a FREE 30 minute exploratory session for us to determine the best course of action for you and your life. Each person is unique and I like to ensure my programs are tailored specifically for you. Give it a whirl! I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time,