Do you remember the moment when Peter Pan discovered his shadow? He wanted it to stop following him and it wouldn’t. Sometimes we do the same thing with our shadow – we try to ignore it, but it continues to follow us.
What is our shadow? It’s the parts of ourselves that we shy away from – the parts we either repress or reject. We don’t pay attention to or work with these parts of us when they call for our attention. Unfortunately, if we don’t work with our shadows is they make their way out in uncomfortable ways. Usually, by acting out in ways that don’t seem rational – fast temper, being impulsive, self-harming. What we resists, persists.
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”
— Carl Jung.
Carl Jung, the psychiatrist, coined the term Shadow. He believed that if we didn’t seek to learn about our shadows, we would not be able to change our behavior. He also believed that by working on your own shadow, you’re working on the collective’s shadow. Work on a small part and affect the whole.
The other aspect of the shadow I find interesting – and I learned quite a bit about this in Clarissa Pinkola’s book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, is the shadow is also the greatest teacher. It sees what cannot plainly be seen. It is in the darkness and stillness that our answers lie. There we can uncover our dreams and how to make them a reality. Whew.
This month’s theme at Practice With Clara is Shadow School. We are taking the month to sit with uncomfortable topics – grief, shame, guilt, fear, duplicity, illusion and attachment – and our relationships to them. I’d love to invite you to join us – either by signing up for the challenge or by answering each week’s questions.
What does your shadow look like?
What is your relationship to your shadow?
How often do you listen to its desires and dreams?
Your homework for the week — Close your eyes. Envision your shadow sitting in front of you. Ask if it has something to tell you. Do this every day for a week and write down its answers.
I’d love to hear your answers! Shoot me an email back.