The definition of shadow was coined by Carl Jung In Aion; The phenomenology of the self (1951). This is where he discussed the shadow for the first time. According to Jung “The shadow is a group of emotions or experiences or thoughts and experiences society deems uncomfortable, evil, ungodly, wrong or unacceptable.”
Shadow work is the active action of confronting these experiences and thoughts and exploring where they come from, why they may be unacceptable, and to reclaim the power they steal from each of us.
Shadow work is important because all of these emotions and experiences carry great weight in our day to day decision making process. They are allowed to run our lives behind the curtain because we refuse to acknowledge or deal with them.
We are embarrassed or horrified by our own actions or thoughts, which gives these actions and thoughts power. It seems like a contradiction doesn't it? The things we strive to hide even from our own consciousness should have such power. How might that happen? Let's take a look at some ideas together.
So what are these shadow thoughts exactly? They are feelings related to lust, low self esteem, jealousy, regret, anger, rage, neediness, bitterness, self pity, despair, vindictiveness, guilt and shame. They may stem from things we really did, or from things we struggle NOT to be think or do, or even things that were projected upon us by another. Can you think of any other shadow thoughts or behaviors?
So how do these thoughts become destructive? They become destructive because they threaten survival. Let me share my own experience:
When I was younger my parents told me that I was fat and unlovable, The kids at school bullied me because I was fat. Teachers told me I was fat, too talkative, asked too many questions and was too excitable. When I was in 7th grade I loved science. I would stay inside during recess and study halls and search for paramecium in the microscope. One day my science teacher said I couldn't do it anymore because I was not a math person.
I got spanked for talking (being me). I got ridiculed for being fat (being me). I was punished for being excited and curious about life (being me). At a young age I was already finding that being me was getting to be a situation where I was not going to get my needs met, therefore my survival is perceived to be threatened .
These hurts, embarrassments and slights went for shelter in the shadow, in the cool mossy comfort of darkness, and I attempted to conform. The conformation was not well executed. Something kept me remembering the old slights the old hurts, I could hear their voices saying things like “you are unlovable”, “you are a fat unworthy slob” “you are too stupid” “your existence is a mistake”, “you are an inconvenience”...the things that live in the darkness and shadow is where hurt does its work if it isn't addressed. Because the pain is still there and it is still just as potent as when it happened.
Do you have a similar experience? Can you write it down? Writing things down is one of the ways to begin the healing process. To write it is to dance with it. To get it outside of your shadow, to get an objective viewpoint, to begin a dialogue.
Breathe In; Hold for a 5 count; release through pursed lips with sound until it is all out.
So now we are dancing.
Donna Bass 2017
Exercises will be posted at a later date. For now just write, write, write...till you see the light.
Welcome to the Mamma Moon Blog.
We discuss Herbs, the Science of Herbs and Aromatherapy. I also draw a Card of the Day.
Grab a cup of tea or wine and enjoy. Feel free to participate. ~Mamma Moon