What is the most important thing about shadow work ?
It is to be able to laugh at oneself, to be able to see the aburd in our behaviors, in our narratives about ourselves and about being a human being. How much energy we are using in trying to create a persona.
Our issues are basicly the same as human beings.
You are both and. And not either or.
You are both unique and plain normal and boring at the same time as a human being
What happens if we can not live up to the persona we have created about ourselves?
Then we are overfunctioning. Our life becomes a struggle.We cant be our authentic self.
We can also identify with our profession. Then our lives becomes narrow.
- yogateachers always eats healthy, are optimitic, never drinks pepsi/coca cola ect. - plummers dont enjoy opera and knitting is not for them - lawers are serious people, works hard, do not have any humor ect.
Let the shadow - part of your authentic / lost self - appear, appear by itself if possible. There are 4 layers, and it is this lower layer that you can work on to heal and integrate into the shaman journey.
Whatever comes up, is good to allow to be there. If there is a the same time anger or sadness are parts of you from layer no. 2 = a reaction to you having to suppress authentic parts of you that have now become lost / squeezed shadows. For anger, the paradoxical change method along with anger meditation is beneficial The paradoxical method of change is always good!
The lost self is just healed / comforted by The Ruler of the Overworld
The 4 layers could e.g. look like this: "The undiscovered self": irritation, lack of boundaries, passive-aggressive et "The fake self": "Pleaser", smiles seem happy, kind etc "It rejected self" (the reaction to the fact that the authentic self was not met with love and interest): shame, not-good-enough, anger etc. "Authentic part / lost self": the loving you who just loves mom
Another example of the 4 layers: "The undiscovered self": do others wrong, dismissive, longing to be connected but pushing others away "The Fake self": I do not need anyone!. I am strong and can manage myself "The rejected self": SHAME, ignoring, wrong, troublesome, abandonment, powerlessness, suicidal thoughts "The Lost self": Be who I am and be loved, That I am a gift and not a burden
A 3rd example: "The undiscovered self": lack of intimacy, being in the head, non-desire, shyness "The Fake self": Released sex performance, woman focus on orgasms "The rejected self": SHAME, border crossings, incorrectness "The Lost self": High erotic energy, being, pleasure
Sometimes the other person really IS angry, or sad, or scared, or jealous, or judging you. Or lying. Or wearing a mask and attempting to manipulate.
Or fleeing themselves by shaming you.
Sometimes you really CAN trust your feeling, your gut intuition, your instinct, the energy you sense under all the clever words.
Sometimes it's not a question of working on yourself more, clearing up your false projections, but of simply standing more powerfully and courageously in your truth, knowing yourself more deeply than ever, validating your own vulnerable human experience, when others cannot.
And yes. Sometimes you're TOTALLY projecting! Sometimes you aren't seeing clearly at all. You are blinded by your own repressed material.
Sometimes it really is YOUR anger, sadness, fear, or jealousy speaking. It's your own incorrect thinking. Its your scapegoating. It's your own unmet stuff thrown onto the 'other' (really yourself).
You must look for the truth in each and every moment.
There's no formula. No map.
🔥Truth is alive!🔥
So stay mindful, present, aware. Don't settle for easy, reactive answers.
Can you say “I am horny!”… Without hesitation, doubt or the slightest resistance? We need to take our light home where we are not yet completely free. In some rooms in the castle, the door flies up effortlessly when we touch the handle. And then there are the spaces, where there is more resistance.
What is in the shadows is, what we have shut down to feel or feel a little anxious about . Or embarrassed, shy ect about.
Lust. You know yourself best how you feel about that word. Whether you get excited, curious, annoyed or provoked.
“Some have grown up in a time when sexuality was still taboo, or in a home where one has never seen father and mother naked, or where sex has not been talked about and sexual desire has been shamed. Maybe it has never been said directly, but has just been in the air that sex was dirty or something you should at least keep as a secret.
A child who explores his own body and is met with disgust, scolding, or shame will no doubt take his healthy, natural sexuality and put it in the shade/shadow. A child who has grown up with a very liberated and promiscuous parent, can go into the opposite direction, and overcompensate by being extra buttoned up and cranky. People who have been sexually abused ect are at greater risk of putting their sexuality in the corner of shame. Teenage girls with great sexual appetites are more often than teenage boys shamed, done wrong or called cheap. It is still a little more legitimate for a man to be horny, than it is for a woman. We may have learned to put a lid on our sexuality, lust and horniness in childhood or adolescence, but sexuality can also be overshadowed over time or in special periods. Maybe we have had free, happy access to our sexuality once, but may have shut down after a crisis in the relationship or after a period of stress, depression, illness, or childbirth. There can be many reasons why you turn off or turn down your sexuality, but you can - right now - choose to take your light home again in this part of your life
There can be many reasons why, you turn off or turn down your sexuality, but you can - right now - choose to take your light home again in this area.
Many women want to acknowledge their lust, but not their horniness. It's too ugly, animalistic, vulgar. But you can not get an orgasm without being horny. If we are to be able to enjoy and want to experience ecstasy, sexual liberation and all-consuming satisfaction, we must - also - embrace and accommodate the lust as a healthy and natural part of us.
” Think about your sexuality. How free do you have to be sexually? Are you allowed to feel it? How much desire can you have? Is it OK. to want sex but not to be horny? Do you set boundaries yourself - or are there things you do not do because you think you should not? Do you need to take some light home in this area ?
So what might these shadow aspects be? Well, first, we can see into anything with such skill that we can’t help noticing the flaws (as I am doing now!) Since we also want to be kind, we often keep our critiques to ourselves, but in certain situations we let loose. Some might do this with their spouse or their children. I do it when I am listening to something intellectual–a lecture or talk.
Just because I enjoy thinking deeply about things, “processing,” I inevitably find holes in an argument. The exceptions. My family added to this natural tendency, as everyone was encouraged to be “objective” and criticize or question everything. That led to long arguments, of course, which I stayed out of as a child. My feelings would be hurt. But I certainly heard how it was done.
With my husband I can have long intellectual discussions that always involve “improving” each other’s ideas and there’s no conflict (after years of practice). But very often in public I do upset a lecturer or teacher with my comments that tend to sound like an attack. So I have to remember to think about the speaker’s feelings–that I really do affect that person up there at the podium. I try now to couch my “suggestions” within much praise for what is good about the work, and there’s always plenty or I would not even bother to speak up. The point is, those who know me as an exceptionally kind person are always surprised to see this other side of me, which I don’t like to be aware of myself. That’s what I mean by shadow aspects.
ON BEING A SENSITIVE DOORMAT
What other shadow aspects of being sensitive might be found in HSPs? Remember, whatever I mention may not be an issue for you at all. These are just possibilities, given how we are. One that comes to mind is giving in too easily. Or being easily defeated. Accepting a position beneath our worth. Being obsequious, submissive, subservient. Weak. Not physically, but socially. We may call our giving in a matter of just being nice or showing our empathy, or we may say we don’t care or it isn’t worth the hassle to get our way, but this feeling inferior keeps us from speaking our mind or being treated fairly. We don’t take up space, so to speak. Our boundaries are whatever the other’s boundaries are–for example, we might habitually talk on the phone until the other person wants to hang up, even if we wanted to end it an hour ago.
Just becoming aware of this particular shadow aspect is not if it arose in childhood because of having been bullied, dominated, ostracized, criticized, used, abused, or ignored, by siblings, friends, or parents. But often it is the result of other people’s opinions that we can learn to ignore. Maybe others see our thorough processing as a sign of weakness–when we pause before acting, they imagine this hesitation is due to whatever they dislike about themselves or were taught to reject. They think we’re afraid, indecisiveness, withdrawn, shy, not expecting to succeed, or a push over. Or if we have a strong emotional reaction, again thanks to our thorough processing of the meaning of an event, they see our tears, trembling, anger, and so forth as weakness, cowardice, lack of control, and so forth. No wonder we begin to feel it’s all true.
I know many of you are getting over this sense of weakness, feeling more “empowered,” just by understanding your worth. You are dragging that shadow of I’m-weak into the light and perhaps transforming it into something more useful–humility, for example, and a knowing-from-experience how hard it is for others who are being a doormat and need some support.
I’M NOT EVER WEAK
Another shadow that can result from the treatment we receive for being highly sensitive might be the ways we compensate for feeling one-down and ashamed. One way might be to seem indifferent, which can look like or become arrogance. Coldness. Striving to always be on top, the best, can look like or become ruthlessness, one-sidedness–again a loss of feeling for others. Or trying to prove our worth, we may just work ourselves into the ground, caring nothing for our own body’s feelings. How can an HSP do any of that? Easy. Shame and rejection are horrible, horrible feelings. They arise in us and hurt us even more than they do others. So quite involuntarily we may make it our highest priority to avoid this agony.
Or we resolve our sense of weakness by calling it something nicer, like devotion to social justice or choosing service as a spiritual path–being Christ-like or Buddha-like or living in strict accord with God’s laws or nature’s laws. But it can also be yucky old codependence, if you give up your entire self for someone because you fear their anger or that they’ll reject and abandon you. Neither Christ nor Buddha did that. There’s no eleventh commandment that calls for becoming another’s slave. One reason is that it isn’t a true spiritual path, but one that could easily lead to immoral acts if you obey someone mindlessly.
So there’s being selfless as a choice and selfless as no choice, because it’s the only way to feel save and to be loved. It can be hard to distinguish between them sometimes. I would say that embarking on a spiritual path of service ought to be done under the wise guidance of someone who does not stand to gain personally. Or at least think about whether a wise person would look at your life and ask, “Why are you demeaning yourself for these ungrateful jerks? You do them moral harm by allowing them to mistreat you.”
Another shadow side of this weakness is that we can begin to expect to be treated as one-down even when it’s not happening. For example, we start out generously offering to help our friend move on our day off. But halfway through, having been ordered around for hours, we may begin to feel we’re being used. We’ve been too generous, “once again.” Now you have to ask your imaginary wise person if you really are being mistreated, in the big picture of things? Has this person done or would this person do the same service for you? And since you did offer and now you wish you hadn’t, whose fault is that? Shouldn’t you keep your promise to help and make another promise not to promise next time unless you are very sure you want to do it? However you handle it, it’s part of the inevitable shadow possibilities of being highly sensitive.
I believe the best decisions are made after one has pondered all the consequences, and I always hope to have time to gather the information I need in order to make at least the best educated guess. One reason HSPs evolved to be so reflective is that our strategy allows us to survive better when our environment is in a dangerous phase–for example, if there are more predators around this year (or we’re in a “bear market”), or there’s not much food until the rains come so, to avoid eating just anything and being sickened, you have to choose carefully (or pay attention to the nutritional contents on the packages). But eventually we have to act. Do something. Eat. We have to take a risk.
And it is a risk because we almost never can know for sure the outcome. What’s healthy this year turns out to be bad for you next year. Or take buying a car. Every consumer rating organization says this is the best car for the money. You know it because you spent days at the library, then you talked to the people who service these cars, then you took test drives until the dealer mumbled something about not operating a car rental service. But it still could be a lemon, or you could find after a few months that the seats are not that comfortable, or next year a different car will surpass this one in every way that matters to you. You just have to buy one. You can’t buy them all.
And that’s a relatively small decision. Most important, it can be undone. And it’s only money you lose. What if you decide to have a baby and it has a serious birth defect that will require full time nursing for the rest of its life? What if you finally decide your despairing friend is not really suicidal, and you can go home and get some sleep, and you’re wrong. No wonder we can’t decide what to do sometimes! But it’s still a shadow side if we don’t wake up to our fear, don’t find the courage to trust the universe or accept our fate. Then we never have babies. Or we would never accept our intuition that we can leave a friend alone to face his or her moment of truth. A shadow indeed.
What to do? Become a bit of a fatalist. And try trusting, irrationally perhaps, that things will probably turn out okay. Figure out just how bad it will be if things go badly. Then go for it.
When we have processed until our processor is mush, we can get pretty irritable. Those close to us know we mean it when we say, “I want my milk and cookies. NOW.” They deliver. What power we have. We better use it nicely.
Sometimes we just lose it when we don’t want anything from anyone except maybe to be left alone. Do we try to control ourselves for just a little longer, until we can get into bed and pull the covers over our head? Or do we secretly enjoy dumping a little. Do we take responsibility for anything we did to allow this overarousal to happen? Or do we blame it on the person who delivered the last straw?
How about the times that we confidently declare that some stimulation–some music, scent, decor, or food–is “just horrible.” “Unbearable.” “How can you stand it?” “Let’s get out of here.” Well, that’s your opinion. What about the others? It’s difficult for anyone to understand that others don’t feel and think exactly the same as one’s self. But there’s the very problem we have with non-HSPs–they don’t understand how sensitive we are. We can be just as shocked and unforgiving when we find they are so Insensitive. Lacking in good taste. Or whatever.
In a similar vein, if you want to avoid irritability at home, learn to tolerate a little bit of messiness and discomfort for the sake of those around you, or just so that you can relax and enjoy yourself. Put the right value on your most prized possessions if you let others near them: “People are more important than things.” Decreasing your fussiness will make you more human, in that most humans are not going to be as tidy, organized, and careful as you are.
By the way, the best cure is to have a child. Your closets will be a mess for the next twenty years and there will probably always be Cheerios under the couch. Or you can borrow a child. Or let yourself be a bit more of a child. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?
BEING TOO TRUSTING, THEN TOO SHOCKED
On the subject of expecting others to be like us, I have found many HSPs just quietly do their jobs, expecting others to notice and appreciate them. Expecting the world to be just. Sometimes it works well. But more often, no acknowledgment happens and the person who “tooted his own horn” without doing half as much gets the praise and the raise. Then the HSP is shocked, bitter, becomes cynical, maybe passive aggressive, coming late to work and so forth. So the shadow of our conscientiousness and modesty is our secret belief that it should be rewarded.
We have to remember that non-HSPs do not notice subtleties! They do not respond to hints! And they can mistake conscientiousness for all sorts of things. So use your deeper processing to notice if you are not being noticed, and see that you are.
BEING ECCENTRIC AND FUSSY
Finally, for all of our ability to sense what’s going on around us, we can get out of touch with reality if we spend too much time alone, protecting ourselves from over stimulation. We have to remain part of society if we are going to do it any good, so find ways that are comfortable for you to stay in touch with the news, with the latest fashions in this and that, with the interests of other generations, other ethnicities. It will mean that your intuition in any given situation will be more accurate. You can’t process what you haven’t taken in, in some way.
That was not so bad, was it? And becoming more aware of even one aspect of one’s shadow makes us a broader person, as well as one less judgmental of others.
It is a slippery slope when we suppress our all-natural urge to laugh at what we find funny or comical. When we never dare to be primitive. When we censor ourselves. And - considering what others might think of us if we laugh - when we suppress our laughter. That which is not spiritual. It's unauthentic.
I was once on a course with Deepak Chopra, where he explained that true 'enlightenment' is about becoming light as a feather. To be able to take things lightly. And to be able to laugh at one self. I think that sounds like a good explanation for enlightenment. I would venture the assertion that I myself have become much more amused by working with the shadow. I laugh more. And much more about myself. And all my own foolishness, embarrassment and mistakes. So the gift of shadow work is also to ... not take yourself so damn seriously.
Keep an eye out for when you lose your sense of humor When I teach, I always tend to say that we know the shadow is at stake, when we lose our sense of humor. When it happens to me, I try to ask myself if I would be just as offended, defensive ect. if the joke was about one (person) or something (a case) that I was not personally invested in myself. For example, I get MORE offended and outraged if someone makes a joke about Bono than I do if someone made the exact same joke about, say, Donald Trump (which I'm not a fan of). It is always a good exercise when we briefly lose our sense of humor. Would I think this was funny if it was about someone else? If the answer is yes, we have busted ourselves into our own hypocrisy. And it's, in fact, quite funny.
The Shadow laugh When we laugh at satire, we laugh greatly at our own shadow potential. Stand-up comedy is shadow work - and the talented comedian manages to make us laugh at our own double standards and human dark sides (hurt joy, envy, revenge, gossip, etc.). The oppressed sadist in us gets air. It is our shadow that laughs. And that's okay. Maybe even healthy. Debbie Ford (who, by the way, was incredibly funny herself) had an apt expression to laugh at the inappropriate: The shadow laugh, she called it. Our shadow laugh often comes spontaneously and surprisingly. It is not a scornful or perfidious laugh at others. It's an honest and sudden laugh at our own shadow. That does not mean you have to laugh at everything. You may like to have both preferences and boundaries.
When we do shadow work, we become able to speak from a cleaner place. And give more honest expression to our needs and desires. There is no longer so much we have to hide. There's not much we need to put lids on. Or make sure others do not discover about us. And it makes our communication flow better and become more direct. We no longer need to manipulate, charm or perform to get our needs met.
When we have dealt with - or have become aware of - our shadows, we can - more easily - ask directly. Do you want to meet this weekend? I would love to take a trip to Berlin. Do you want to join? Oh honey, do you mind massaging my feet?
And we can more easily ask directly for what we want (and do not want). The new position as marketing manager, I am interested in applying for. Unfortunately, I can not take on more work before Christmas. Is it possible for me to take time off on Sunday?
All good, honest communication is shadow-free. When we weave, become blurred or hesitate, we can be sure that the shadow is still in the equation. Then the fear of being eg * troublesome, * demanding, * desperate, * greedy, * power-hungry, * boring, * cold, * uncooperative, * weak, etc. will unconsciously hold us back or make our wordings, questions and requests unclear.
If we have made peace with these sides of ourselves, we are free to communicate honestly and clearly.
It feels incredibly safe to talk to people who communicate directly. Guessing and mind reading takes energy, and it's tiring all the time to try to figure out what people really mean. Just as it is exhausting often to be disappointed or frustrated with the response of others because you were not actually able to ask or ask for what you wanted - directly.
Many of us communicate in half sentences. I want to go to the cinema soon ... ... dot dot dot ... When others do not guess the rest (namely that it means we want them to go with you to the cinema), we become disappointed or frustrated.
With knowledge of shadow work, we are trained in identifying the specific shadow that stands in the way of our honest communication. Whoa, what is it I do not want to be right now? And that self-insight allows us to consciously integrate the unattractive shadow side (demanding eg) - and then everything flows more easily.
• Consider what other strategies (other than communicating directly) you have used to get your needs met. Do you tend to - charm, - manipulate, - sulk, - picture yourself that you do not need anything / anyone.
• Reflect on which relationships / situations you hold back / do not express - directly and honestly - your needs:
- Partner / on dates - Managers / colleagues / working relationships - Authorities - Friends - Family
Write a list. • Choose one example and try using the step-by-step guide • Practice in general to be aware of feeling your feelings / needs / desires
What is it I would like? What do I need right now? What do I fancy? What would I wish xxx could mind read and do without I needed to ask for it right now?
Practice this expressing your needs. Honest and vulnerable. Ask for something you have not asked about before. Or express a need, desire or longing - directly. Consider also what sweet words and declarations of love you hold back (by fear of being rejected or laughed at). Be brave and say it out loud
How to ask:'
When You feel angry, dissapointed, sad, frustrated, blocked, locked You havent received what you would have wanted You havent communicated your need clear enough You have hoped that the other person could have guessed your need
When you manipulate (talking about the kids or the dogs need when it is your need), when you charm, when you sulk, when you withdraw, when you please
Ask yourself what is my honest wish ? What is it that i am not getting, what is it that you havent asked directly about, what would you like/ suggest ?
What is it that you should risk (beeing seen as) (your shadow/shame) ? What is your historie with that word ?
What is the gift with that word ? You can say: I really feel needy/difficult ect when I have to
Ask in an honest way for what you wish
I would like to I will/ I want Will you
What do you think about that ? Do you want to ... ?
If you dont deal with your shadow, then your shadow will deal with you (Debbie Ford)
If you are having difficulty with the word shame, then you can ask yourself what you fear. What are you affraid being seen as ?
How can people regonise when they are feeling shame/are getting triggered:
The passive: You implode. You want to withdraw, you become a turtle, you become quiet. You can go into freeze and maybe collapse.What feeling do you feel the moment before this happens ?
The agressive: You explode, you shout, you become a cactus, you pour your anger onto other people. What feeling do you feel the moment before this happens ?
What emotions can trigger aggression / anger in you:
To be ignored To feel criticized To be called histarical To feel stupid, - rejected, - indifferent, - not important, - hung out, - ugly - not respected ect.
What words / insinuations can trigger aggression in you:
Words you've been teased with Names you've been called Things you've been accused of being Things you've been criticized for being Things you've felt like (old wounds / trauma) Sides of you, you feel deeply shame / disgusted about (shadow sides)
Violations and failures - which have you experienced either as a child or later in a couple relationship or in other relationships, at work ect:
• Verbal insults: a lot of criticism / scolding • “Inquire” • Being shamed • Humiliation • You been told to: shut up / shh! / be quiet • Threats / punishment • Physical violence • A look full of disappointment / or disgust • Inappropriate teasing, • Emotional coldness, being ignored • Violent mood swings, erratic behavior, conflicting messages • Exaggerated or unrealistic demands • Overcontrolling behavior • Overprotective behavior • Enmeshment / emotional incest (entanglement. Too intimate with mother or father) • Failure / rejection • To be invisible / not to be seen . Lack of warmth, support, comfort, encouragement, declarations of love, physical touch
What did you make this mean about you? Spend 10 minutes uncovering theese beliefs you (unconsciously) created on the basis of each type of violation / failure. For example:
Enmeshment: I must always be there for others Unrealistic demands: I can not do anything good enough Constant criticism: I'm wrong "Shut up!": it is dangerous to say your opinion
Answer: My story taken into account, it is understandable that…
What do you feel like saying to yourself as a child now? Write down at least two sentences.
Rewrite your old, negative beliefs into mantras / positive messages you can remind yourself of every day: Ex: I am allowed to say my opinion. It is not selfish to take care of myself. My needs are also important.
Write the sentences on post-it notes and put them around your home, where you can see them every day