Recently I have been thinking about the Shadow self, or rather, in the continuing quest to for self awareness, the acceptance of our darkest parts. I find this very interesting but also confronting. There are things I know now that we can never gain from others no matter how long we search for them. Most of us could be told a thousand times a day that we are beautiful and worthy and loveable, or whatever narrative that opposes our own negative self talk but until we truly feel that way about ourselves the words are fleeting, disappearing like scraps of paper. Our self worth may then get tied up in the validation and opinions of others, possibly many but perhaps just one. Like Saccharin, artificially sweet and also potentially harmful.
The thing is, how do we do that? How do we take those parts of ourselves, the ones that we were taught to hide, told were weak, despicable, bad, unworthy, not enough, the ones to be ashamed of? Who knows what they are for each of us? Habits, behaviours, the things that we do when things go wrong. The seven deadly sins… Avarice, gluttony, sloth, wrath, lust, envy, pride… we have so many names for these and so many more. If we think about it, most of what we don’t want to acknowledge or accept about ourselves falls into these seven. Greed, addiction, laziness, anger, desire, judgement, narcissism….
For me, it comes down to first acknowledging their existence, then recognising that we have those parts of us for reasons. Reasons that we created for ourselves, with positive intentions, maybe without even knowing. When did they become part of us? Did we turn to them as coping mechanisms? What was it that happened the first time? What is the common thread when we exhibit them? What are we denying to ourselves? Underneath them is something more, maybe pain, fear, hurt, sadness, guilt, anger? Sometimes we have to be our own detectives, to uncover the feelings that are underneath and when we figure it out, then we can change it. When we understand the positive intention, however misguided it may seem, forgiving ourselves (and others) becomes easier to bear. Through forgiveness we can then move towards acceptance, love and peace.
What do I need, right now? What can I do right now? What would I say to someone I loved in this situation? Isn’t it time that I gave the same compassion and love to myself that I give to others?
“Hey, its ok, you’ve got this. I love you and I understand how we got here, we know more now and can do better next time. Whatever we need to do right now is the right thing for us as long as we are choosing consciously and we choose to accept and not regret. Take my hand and when we are ready we can go on.”
Sometimes we have to be our own best friend, let our light dance with our shadow.