Are you familiar with the term “shadows”? Not the kind that follows us around on a sunny day; the kind that follows us around to wreak havoc in our lives.
Shadows, as per Carl Jung, are those parts of our personality or ego that we find so distasteful, we push them down into the shadows, willing them to disappear. I call these “cringy bits” because they are the parts of our personalities/egos that make us cringe when they come out to create chaos in our perfectly manicured lives.
Have you ever attended a meeting/party/lunch date/social thing and woke up the next day feeling like an idiot, berating yourself for saying or doing the same thing you’ve done or said again, and again, that makes you want to crawl in a hole and die? You smack your palm to your forehead and are completely confused as to how and why you continue to sabotage yourself when you least expect it. Or, perhaps you were trying so hard to stuff that detested part of your personality so far down into the underworld that you couldn’t even enjoy yourself at that social event. You walked around so stiff and uncomfortable people started hanging their coats on you.
That’s your cringy bit coming out to remind you that you can run, but you can’t hide.
I want you to consider that maybe, just maybe, shoving that part of yourself down into a cavernous hole isn’t working, and maybe, just maybe, you need a new approach.
Here are a few questions I’d like you to think about:
1. What is truly so awful about your cringy bit? How does it make you feel when it comes out?
2. When does it come out? In what situations do you find that part of your ego most active? Why do you think that is?
3. What is it that you think that part of your ego is trying to prove in those situations? What do you think it’s looking for? To be heard? Recognized?
4. Is it possible that your cringy bit is actually a profound lesson waiting for you to discover, and once discovered, will no longer work against you but, instead, for you?
If question #4 just flicked a lightbulb on for you, then my last question is this: how can you turn your shadow into a strength rather than a weakness?
Here’s the thing: if you recognize a shadow, it’s a shadow because you put it there. You want it to go away so you’ve ignored it. However, by its very nature, if it’s a shadow then ignoring it clearly won’t work. Therefore, you have two options: One, keep ignoring it and hope it will dissipate (good luck with that). Or two, face it head-on, learn its lesson, and bring it into the light, thereby turning it into an asset rather than a disadvantage.
To evolve is to learn, grow, and gain wisdom. This is what allows us to live in wholeness. If this is your goal, it just might be time to turn that lightbulb on and see what’s been hiding in the dark. It might not be as scary as you think. In fact, it just might be downright liberating.
If you’re curious about learning more, reach out. I’m all ears (and lightbulbs).