Unleashing the Shadow

The self-help industry, together with its coaches and authors, is still trying to find balance on the issue of uncovering one’s past. We all want to know why we are the way we are. Why do I have these habits and beliefs? Where did these phobias come from? What happened when I was four years old? What do I still need to forgive?

I have experienced some feelings of liberation sometimes when I uncover an old limiting belief, or when I make a connection between my past experience and my current habits. It can be good to know “why.” And it can also be a trap.

Bringing the unconscious into the conscious can liberate us, because then we can make conscious choices and changes. At the same time, we also face the risk of giving power to the past now that we’re aware of the story.

“I’m not able to trust men because of what happened to me when I was 5.”
“I can’t control my anger because of the way I was treated as a kid.”
“I’m too scared to operate heavy machinery because of an accident I had on the farm.”

Okay. So, now that you know about it, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to make it into a life-long story? Are you going to let it rule you? Or are you going to take ownership and decide for yourself what you want to do?

Debbie Ford’s book, The Dark Side Of The Light Chasers, was written back in the 90’s but it’s still a good tool for working through our shadows. She talks about giving our shadow personalities names, like, “Doubtful Doug” or “Angry Annie,” so we can have a conversation with them and get to know them. She talks about how destructive it can be to bury the shadow, and also how important it is to move forward once the shadow has been uncovered. The shadow side has many gifts to offer us if we can have an enlightened conversation with it. (She also has other books along the same lines, although I have not read them.)

We all have our bad habits, unconscious beliefs and self-limiting patterns. Beating ourselves up over them is not the answer, and burying them is also not the answer. And neither is uncovering them just to look at them and give them power. We have to bring them to the table for a sit-down chat, uncover the gifts, and then claim our personal power and make decisions about how we want to live.


About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
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