Is a shadow a negative thing?
Following my initial blog on Embracing Your Shadow With Pride, there is an interesting aspect the emerged that came up on shadows. I got a question as to whether a shadow is a negative thing.Let me take a step back and think this through even before I break it down. There are about four aspects of the shadow that I’d like to talk about and these are; types of shadows, how to identify your shadow, how to embrace your shadow and how you’ll know you’ve fully embraced your shadow.
A shadow is an aspect of your personality that is dormant or suppressed. The cause of this dormancy could be personal, cultural or political. Personal means that its something you tried out but you were ‘bitten’ then you became shy. As much as you want to try it out again you are scared of the pain and fear to be ridiculed. For example you love to sing and you have the most melodic voice but on the day you go on stage somehow the song comes out so wrong and so bad the Kenyans on Twitter (kot) roast you for a month. Now what happens thereafter is that you throw in a towel with the whole singing idea since you’re thoroughly humiliated and would never sing even if your life depended in it. Then there is the cultural aspect of shadows. Growing up as a child everyone around me was disciplined when they tried to express any kind of opinion or emotion. When you cried the kids would point at you and laugh saying ‘mtoto mkubwa, analia, anataka matiti ya mama yake’ (loosely translated to mean you’re a big baby) , when you told your mother you wanted a novel she would tell you to go and study maths or chemistry instead of reading stupid books all night, when you joined drama, you’d meet drama at your doorstep telling you that you were indulging in activities that would derail you from education. Growing up your creativity, your emotions or your love of reading is suppressed out of fear. Then there are the political aspects. Politicians have a way of switching between right and wrong that could easily leave you resentful. They’ll fight for truth and justice bit when faced with truth and justice they’ll ridicule the judiciary. They’ll feed the poor and the homeless but at the same time create poverty and IDPs. Since they control the ‘machinery’ you learn to accept and move even though you know that you deserve better.
There are the golden shadows and the dark shadows. The golden shadows always give us SL much joy that you’ll probably shed a tear just thinking about it. Like recently I was watching Trisha on a episode of the Worlds Smallest Mums and I found myself tearing up. It must have been the way the ladies said that this had always been their dream and now they were living it. The golden shadows represent the things that we truly love and would stop at nothing to have them. Like that car that makes your heart skip a beat when you look at it or that guy that seems to have jumped from a movie or that company that you’d love to work with or that destination you really want to visit. Let’s just say the list is endless.
Then there are the dark shadows that the recent programmes on television portray so well. In most programmes dark shadows are the villains. There is a series called The Hannibal that I will never get to understand it’s objective or the The Following that has so much blood drama. Yet, I’m addicted to them. My point is these guys love to kill and avenge. You can see their contentment and joy once they’ve killed then you wonder how they sleep at night. Maybe not that extreme, but the always say the forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. See that side dish you are able to bend and coil and later on feel like a hero, imagine closing the door then let the fingers bring you utmost joy, the joy you feel when you sneak in a bar of chocolate when you’ve taken an oath with all your friends to stay healthy? The common word here is ‘secret’. You secretly crave for….? You secretly want….? You secretly admire….? You secretly do…? Don’t be shy you’ve secretly wanted to kill someone yes, no, maybe? Moving on swiftly….
The easiest way to identify your shadow is by being conscious of how you feel. The stronger the emotions, the bigger the shadow whether its golden or dark. The most common emotions are joy, anger, hatred, excitement, jealous or envy. There are things that you hate with a passion, there are people that make you want to scream just by looking at them, there are people who make you want to sing to the whole world and sometimes you go green with envy when you see someone or something that you really want. Then there are instances when you’re indifferent. You don’t feel a thing about something. Everyone is screaming their head off and you’re just there staring blankly. Either you’ve already embraced that shadow or you’re yet to encounter that shadow.
This is too much theoretical work. Let’s do an experiment; yes?
Think through your day and write down 5 people, 5 places and 5 things that you do and how they make you feel. For each write down 5 things you love about them, 5 things you hate about them and 5 things people say about them but you’ve never given it a second thought. Then you’ll be one step closer to your shadow. There guys who say “if you can spot it, you got it”. If you can spot a perfectionist…if you can spot talent….if you can spot laziness…if you can spot a thief….
Another way to identify your shadow is by looking at patterns. In a span of twelve months is there something that keeps recurring that you’ve tried so hard to get over but you find yourself where you begun. Dating married wo(men) , dating underage children, facebooking, tweeting your fingers out, singing endlessly in the bathroom, drawing cartoons on all the office files, screaming at that intern, hanging out with old folks, avoiding the news…how do you react when you get good news? How do you react when you get bad news? Are there guys who’s phone calls you don’t pick or smses you ignore? How do you spend your spare time? Would you change your career? Why do you go to work every morning? Who is the one person that puts a smile on your face and why? Who is the one person who makes you grit your teeth and why?
Now we have identified some of our shadows. I say some because from my research their are the conscious shadows, subconscious shadows and unconscious shadows. The conscious shadows are the obvious ones that people tell you every day and can be noticed easily. The subconscious shadows are buried one layer deeper and the unconscious shadows are so dark and so hidden you’d need a specialist to pull them out. For example you hate everything to do with mathematics just by looking at your school grades (conscious) because your class four teacher told you that you were so stupid (subconscious) like your mother/father (unconsious). I’ll do more research on that.
Now that we’ve identified some of our shadows just like they do on My Unspoken although most of their focus is on the dark shadows. If they were tried to balance with the golden shadows we would have programme similar to Ghetto Radio whereby someone gets to a point of self realization and makes a difference in their own lives and those of others. Or those programmes where you walk on hot coal to get over you fear or a boot camp to deal with your weight.
The first step is to have a conversation (mostly) silent with the person or object that brings you joy or sadness or hatred or turns you green and find out what it wants. Look right at the intern and ask them, what do you want? You’ll have an idea what you need to embrace your shadow. Do you think that person or object desires love, intimacy, wealth, power, recognition, companionship, respect, understanding, trust, a comfortable environment, a creative environment, a name for their feeling, a way to express their feelings or space. Give any of these to yourself. The shortcut is to hangout with a child who is less than sic years old or a senior citizen who is more than seventy years old for a couple of days. That will do it for a while. There are people who arm themselves with affirmations and soul healing meditation videos. I guess the end justifies the means. As for me I’d rather take it to Jesus/God and wait for him to lead me like the Shepherd that He is.
Assuming you took the shortcut and have developed patience, love, humility or compassion after the baby sitting, you’ll know it was worth your while when you;
1. No longer recognize that quality in someone.
2. No longer attract people with the ‘questionable’ behavior.
3. You are indifferent to a situation that would otherwise drive you mad.
4. You are able to laugh at yourself.
5. You do not feel scared, fearful or painful when you think about the situation.
6. You’ve reevaluated your priorities.
7. You no longer point fingers but rather take responsibility for the part you played.
8. You’re grateful the thing happened and you’ve learnt your lesson.
9. You do not need alcohol, drugs, sex, adrenaline charged activities to drown your sorrows.
When you ignore your shadow you’re bound to die so that you are born again. When I say die I mean losing something you hold dear and wish that you would die instead then you’re forced to face your shadow and chase it out of your life. For example when you don’t make an effort to talk to your significant other, you’re always too busy for them, you don’t check in to ask how they’re doing, when you call them you probably want something then you disappear, you’re sneaking around them with younger or other people, you won’t stop drinking; then one day you come home and they’re gone for gone. For a fraction of a second you’ll die inside because of what you’ve lost. If you’re ready to embrace your shadow you’ll change your ways and show more love, support, intimacy, compassion and get over yourself. There are other ways to die like when you are fired from work for being too unruly, or you loose the job that was killing you, your best friend decides to date your partner, there is a war or an economic crunch. In all these instances you’re forced to face the truth and embrace it.
The stories I love about healing are Eat, Pray, Love and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari . They have almost the same concepts of finding your way back to your path but I like the way they’ve been simplified.
I’m not an expert on this so when you find half of the things I write here don’t make any sense feel free to read;