Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meet Your Shadow

As winter continues, there is ample opportunity to experience, grapple with, or despair over our shadow aspects. No matter how many times I've faced my own dark, difficult parts, it seems to always take me by surprise, the stark fear, the strength of my resistance. Someone once said, "Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore." A twist on messages from "The Secret," it's not just about where we turn our attention, but also where we refuse to turn our attention, that manifests in the world.

Jung gives us that "Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event." And indeed, I have seen the working of that wisdom inherent in our Selves, in the unfolding of our lives, in the workings of our universe, in my own journey as well as in journeys of those around me. Whatever part of me I push down always pops back up as an unexpected detour or crisis in my life. So what I think I am successfully denying returns in my world returns to me as an emergency, or it is "emerging, see?"

And our choice at that point is to either continue the suffering/suppressing cycle, or as Nietzsche puts it, "gain the courage to rebaptize our badness as the best in us." What I am beginning to understand and embrace is how my badness, that I have railed and struggled against for so long, is actually my best resource. I am an expert at how to numb myself out and escape my feelings; I have many tools for this purpose! And that expertise is not at war with my capacity to love myself, or to imagine a bold life. In fact, it is my greatest ally: a safety net. If ever things get overwhelming or I want to stop what I've started, I am an expert at checking out!

My gift of this past week has been the experience of holding ALL of my resources--from my skills in controlling or thinking I control the circumstances of my life, to my commitment to challenge the limits of just how much joy I can gather into my life. These different capacities and skills, which I had heretofore pitted against each other, are finally, beautifully, and easefully meeting each other as members of the same clan, comrades, and teammates. And I feel valid, strong, and truly loving of myself.

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