*Image by Oussama Zouaimia
As I was lying down for meditation, my spirit guide Elizabeth came before me. She was wearing a long dress of blue silk, her long golden hair flowing around her. The next thing I know, Elizabeth was telling me goodbye. I wasn’t ready for this. I felt like our time together wasn’t over, but this could have just been me not wanting to let go of my “wife” as we were together in a past life. I really did tear up when she told me goodbye. While she was leaving me, a dark cold cloud was quickly covering me and then a sudden headache and my third eye was completely wide open and shining bright. I started getting cold chills and had to close my third eye to relieve the pain. I fell asleep from the exhaustion of my meditation with Elizabeth and the sudden dark cloud.
Concerned that I may have done something wrong to bring on the cold dark cloud, I went to my teacher for guidance. Here, she said, I was presented with my shadow self. Everything I have disliked about myself, denied and suppressed was now looking at me in the face. You never really truly know what you have tried to repress until you are face to face with all of it. I’ve had a very difficult past and everything I thought I had gotten through and dealt with, had now shown itself.
I did some self reflection to figure out how to pinpoint where in my life things had started. Not only was that important, but realizing everything from the time it started to now. All the letdowns and put downs. The angry words and the pain.
I started the process by going to confession at my local Catholic church.Though I had a list of things to confess, the priest asked me yes or no questions instead. Though this was a little easier for me because I wasn’t listing them out loud, it was still extremely difficult. He grabbed my hand and held it tightly, and I held on to him as well with a tight grasp. As he started asking his questions, I started crying. I was not embarrassed but ashamed that I had let everything, my life, my world, everything, get so out of hand. Though I felt a little better, it wasn’t the relief I was hoping for. It actually was only the beginning of dealing with my shadow side. I ended up having a nervous breakdown that night. All the feelings that I had forever been suppressing had all come to the surface. My feelings of worthlessness and being a bad person. The fear of someone leaving me. Those all came up all at once. Come the next day, I knew I had to deal with all of it because it was really starting to consume me. There was just too much other stuff I had to deal with, like raising my kids and working a full time job. This was keeping me from being present in the moment and fears that we find are embarrassing to ourselves.
Our shadow side is developed around the time when our ego is developed. When we are born, we are born free of ideas and concepts, but during our childhood as we grow and we learn different beliefs, we find ourselves developing an ego and shadow self. We take in everything around us that our parents, teachers, society and religion says is good or bad, positive or negative. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you would definitely see a pattern here when it comes to our early years. That’s because when we are born, we are innocent to the world around us. We may remember past lives or know deep within ourselves that something doesn’t seem quite right, but we are just small children are still new to this life and full of hope.
According to Carl Jung, the shadow side is is a unconscious side of ourselves that the ego does not identify with. But why is this? “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” This is because we see ourselves a certain way through ego. If you are someone with a low self esteem, you are going to view yourself as unworthy and hated by others. Inside your shadow self, you are actually worthy and loved. We just don’t see it because we haven’t brought our shadow self up to our conscious level and accepted it. If you are a good person who stays positive all the time and the perfect or not so perfect citizen, you tend to keep darker thoughts in the shadows. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person if you choose to acknowledge these darker things because they make up who you are.
In order for us to grow spiritually, we have to face these different aspects of ourselves that we keep hidden in the shadows. In these moments when we are faced with this dark shadow is where we learn to love ourselves and understand that despite how dark or light we are, we are still loveable and that we should love who we are no matter what we try to hide. This isn’t to say that someone who suppresses feelings and desires of hurting others is okay to act on these things. I’m by no means am giving someone permission to hurt others. However what I am saying is you need to see these different parts of you and try to understand why these different parts have remained hidden. I recommend talking to a therapist or a counselor for help in delving into why you feel the way you do.
Now that we understand what a shadow self is, what do you do when you encounter this part of spiritual growth? Not everyone will go through the experience of shadow self at the same time, and some may not experience it to the same extreme as someone else. All in all, those who seem to have a harder childhood or adulthood can experience more of an emotional rollercoaster when it comes to facing one’s shadow self. Keep in mind these tips that I’m about to tell you.
- When you first encounter the shadow self, you may not be sure of what it is. When you consciously become aware that how you treat others is how you feel about yourself, the anger you hold onto or the love and admiration you feel for someone else, is just you feeling what you feel about yourself. You are projecting onto someone else. When you notice yourself feeling a certain way about someone, ask yourself why? Maybe there’s that coworker who really triggers something in you. Ask yourself, why am I angry at this person? What is it about this person that causes this trigger?
- Try writing a letter to someone that causes you extreme triggers. Someone that you find yourself really angry with. Then write a letter to someone that you extremely admire. After you have finished writing, cross their name out and add your own name. These are letters to yourself. Read them. Know that the letter to the person that you dislike the most is the things you don’t like about yourself. You may have to consider how your past and current life have really made you feel and then learn to forgive yourself and realize that these feelings are connected to ego and have no real reflection on how you are as a person and how you are as a soul. The other letter to the person you admire is the same as the other letter. These are things that you feel about yourself that you have left in the dark. Once you start bringing up these feelings to the light and releasing and healing you will start to see yourself in a different way and you will feel less negative and more positive.
It all seems pretty easy. It’s easy for us to write a letter to someone else when we are overflowing with emotions, negative or positive. But it’s even harder when we put ourselves in the focus of these emotions. For myself, I had become extremely depressed and even suicidal because my emotional wounds were still very fresh. What I didn’t realize is that I had created this whole entire image of myself that even though I knew wasn’t true, subconsciously I felt that it was true. This isn’t a one time fix all, but it’s a doorway that you walk through to understanding how the shadow self and subconscious really work. Once you’ve done this, it will be easier to catch these feelings and just kind of say “hey, do I really want to feel this way about myself?” or “you know, I do have that quality and that makes me feel good”.
In closing, understand that we have to experience this in order to really reconnect with our souls. It’s this emotional baggage that we carry around that really isn’t necessary for our spiritual development. Take the time to unload your baggage and congratulate yourself for a job well done.