The healing journey can sometimes feel ever so daunting. The dance of taking two steps forward, one step back, or ten steps forward, eleven steps back can feel like you’re spinning in circles with no end in sight. At the beginning of each session with my therapist, she proudly encourages me to look how far I’ve come along. And she’s right.
It wasn’t too long ago that I had no clue what mental health, healing and self-compassion meant. The words energy or blockage was all woo-woo lingo to me. Law of attraction and manifestations only existed in sci-fi movies. And shadow work had no place in my vocabulary. Yes, I’ve come a long ways.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung coined the terms shadow work, which in lay person’s term is accepting all traits of oneself. There’s no good, nor bad parts to us, just One. When we are whole, we love and accept what many would see as negative traits. For most of us who experienced a form of childhood trauma, fear, insecurity and doubt, are undoubtedly going to exist in our lives. I’ve learned that the hard way of struggling to accept my past. But when we accept that these are parts of us, we liberate ourselves from feeling shame. For myself, accepting that I can be afraid, I can be insecure and I can have doubts hasn’t been easy. The world sees those traits as negative or bad. They can be, if we act on them. But we can own them by being responsible for those feelings. Whenever we get that twitch of discomfort (aka resistance), we can say to ourselves, I’m feeling fear again! Or yes, it’s seems silly, but I am feeling insecure.
What many of us are afraid of is judgement when we own these parts of us. The truth is, everyone feels a level of insecurity. Everyone feels a level of fear. For those who deny it, are in fact disowning their shadow.
For those who experienced trauma, we might have the belief system that subconsciously says I don’t matter. I had a lightbulb moment that I worked on with my therapist this past year. I have an addiction to the belief that I don’t matter. It sounds strange to have an addiction to a negative belief system, but it’s true. With my childhood experiences of not experiencing a consistent, loving and safe home and being bullied, it was inevitible that I would generate the belief that I don’t matter. As an adult, that belief is my default thought because it’s what I’ve always known about myself. Ironically, it feels familiar, comforting and safe. Thus, I’ve been addicted to the feeling of familiarity, comfort and safety, which is linked to that pesky belief that I don’t matter.
Whenever I feel a trigger, I work extra hard to remind myself that I’m addicted to the belief that I don’t matter. (Triggers are a positive sign to remind myself to turn inward and evaluate my shadow). This gives me some extra time to process what my shadow is telling me, and that I need to own that part of me (whether I’m feeling insecure, fearful, upset, hurt, etc).
We cannot get rid of our shadow. That’s not the goal. The objective is to accept all parts of ourselves, and integrate it as part of who we are. I’ve struggled in my life. I grew up in an abusive home growing up, I was bullied and shamed. I grew up and generated a lot of fear inside me, self-doubt, and insecurities. But, that’s OK! That’s the reality of my life and I must love all parts of myself, and realize none of it was ever my fault. Yet, I lead a fulfilling life today as a blogger, author and mental health speaker, and happily in a relationship with a lovely woman who is accepting, loyal and kind. When I struggle at times in the relationship with my insecurities (which does happen!), I need to reset myself and turn inwards to my shadow and ask myself, do I believe that I don’t matter?
My therapist asked me a very powerful and deep question the other day. She asked, What if your purpose was to go through everything you’ve gone through, in order to learn what you’ve learned (because you’ve learned A LOT!) and to share it with the World?
I sat there, floored and speechless. What if all of us who experienced trauma are supposed to learn and share our wisdom of self to the World?
She could very well be right.
Come meet me virtually during my upcoming free event at the Surrey Public Library:
Wednesday Sept 15, 2021 (6 – 7pm PST)
To learn more about Shadow Work, here’s a great video by a Shadow Work therapist, Tess Mcmechan: