“The secret is out: all of us, no exceptions, have qualities we won’t let anyone see, including ourselves – our Shadow. If we face up to our dark side, our life can be energized. If not, there is the devil to pay. This is one of life’s most urgent projects.” – Larry Dossey
I “attended” part of a really thoughtful Global Leadership virtual meeting last night, hosted by Suzanne Hanna who said she focuses on working with people’s shadows. She didn’t really go into it further – not before I had to leave the meeting anyway – but it stuck with me and I have been thinking about it ever since.
I came to the realization that I am currently having an internal battle between my sweet, needy inner child and my dismissive, hurtful shadow self. This will probably happen for all of us through isolation but will exaggerate greatly, the closer you are to the “cliff” of illness or financial ruin, and you feel you’re about to fall over. I’m right on the edge now and it’s stirring up some pretty awful things for me that I need to acknowledge and then release so I can concentrate on nurturing my inner child instead.
What my shadow side is telling me:
- You are a failure and a loser
- You will not be lovable when/if you lose everything.
- You have no purpose now
- You made horrible life choices in choosing a creative field to have your career in
- You don’t matter if you are not serving others through your job
Lies. Lies. Lies. And, more lies.
I can’t even begin to express how deeply ashamed and humiliated these thoughts are making me feel though, and I find myself withdrawing further into my cave because of that. I am deeply embarrassed that it didn’t take long at all for my life to begin to crumble through this. That I don’t have a safety net like many others do and nowhere to turn really. A woman shamed me for this recently publicly, which is probably what started the humiliation in my mind. How dare her though really. She doesn’t know the struggles I have endured in my life. She doesn’t know how I have fought and clawed my way to what has been a rather fulfilling life for me personally. Regardless, the damage was done and now I can only pay attention to what my shadow is telling me because it’s pointing me in the direction I have to do my inner work, while still scrambling to figure out how to make a living. That’s the hard part. The crushing stress doesn’t exactly make it easy to figure out major life decisions at the spur of the moment.
I have been here before though. Well, usually to a bit of a lesser degree than a pandemic but I have had to start over time and time again by re-envisioning my life and recreating myself. So. Many. Times. The most recent was during the recession when I was laid off from my graphic design job that I loved so much. Creatives are clearly the least valued in organizations/society and are always the first to go when times get tough. Marketing departments suddenly became ghost towns around here. But, I was fortunate in that I had a soft place to fall with my ex-boyfriend. That gave me the ability to more comfortably look for another job while not starving, which still proved difficult since it took awhile for businesses to recover back then. But, I got very lucky with some well paying freelance design jobs and my photography business was born from all of that in a rather organic and oh-so-lovely way.
Beautiful things come from turmoil. I watched John Krasinski interview Steve Carell yesterday on John’s new web-show, Some Good News and was struck by how what they were mostly reminiscing fondly over were not exactly the best of times, but when things went wrong or were filled with heavy emotion. Growth and connection come from those moments. We become more creative and innovative in our solutions to not only survive but thrive. I can’t wait to see what I come up with personally. I have already been working behind the scenes trying to come up with cool offers for past clients, new offers for future sessions, other ways of making money, etc. And, while nothing is working out just yet, I realize that I just so happen do my very best when backed up against a wall like this. But, only after I let me shadow self be heard, acknowledge the hurt, release it and move forward. And, that’s what I am doing now.
And, so I am fully prepared to do heavy battle with my shadow self now and to win this fight. My main strategy will be in showing more compassion to myself and not believing the shadow stories. We hold so much of this junk in our bodies, including past traumas so I will continue going for daily walks and will add more yoga. Trying to figure out ways I can be of service to others, albeit with limited resources. Writing is cathartic in working through these things for me and so I will continue to write both personally and publicly, like I am doing now, but I also have the goal of becoming a better writer so I plan on working towards that during this time as well. I’m spending this time doing whatever I can necessary to come up with viable options for my life moving forward obviously but also on bettering myself. And, trying to find some structure to my days now. I’m also trying to incorporate play into my life to honor my inner child, whether having bursts of “dance parties” by myself to arts and crafts.
You might not be to the strong stage of shadow just yet with this, but what is coming up so far for you that you need to work through or let go of? What are your weapons for doing battle? What can you replace the shadow with and what are ways of healing yourself through this?