One of my favourite quotes is by Carl Jung: ” One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” This resonates with me so much, I think, because I’ve spent the last 10 years reading, listening to, absorbing, mimicking, and meditating on the following mantras: “Just think positive thoughts.”; “All we are is love and light.”; “This too will pass.”; “Transcend your ego.”
I have pages and pages of words in countless journals asking, no, pleading, with God or the Universe to please help me be better and rid myself of negativity. I think to myself, “God please help me be more loving, more compassionate, more understanding.” Let me just go ahead and say, nothing is wrong with praying for these things, but not once did I ever stop to think that perhaps I’m not embodying these traits I so desperately seek for a reason.
What is this wild, pushy, manipulative, self-serving woman trying to actually show me right now? I’m talking about my ‘shadow’ self, or ego-self. We all have one, and the more we run and hide and try to deny it’s there, the more internal conflict arises. We’re living in fantasy land if we think we are, and must be, happy, loving, shiny, joy-filled beings all the time. Everyone wants pleasure without the pain. Life doesn’t work like that. We live in a dualistic world.
Our psyche and our experiences are constantly trying to get us back into balance, hence the turmoil we may feel when we encounter someone that challenges our motives, ideals, beliefs, or values. We tell ourselves, “I gotta stay loving, gotta stay compassionate, gotta stay peaceful.” Affirmation, affirmation, affirmation. We fight our nature and go against our own values to please others, usually by subordinating. In order not to hurt others, we hurt ourselves. I had a very profound shift in my personal relationship this year regarding this so-called light/shadow self.
Through his words, my partner actually helped me to become more integrated with myself, and in the same instance, he became more aware of his own delusions when it came to a significant other. He was constantly calling me mean and unkind but I knew how loving and caring I could be. Too often we had disagreement after disagreement, over things that now seemed small, but at the time they felt huge. It could have been my tone that set him off, but it was his words that agitated me. One time he came home with a friend and I had just spent time making bean burgers. He came into the kitchen gave me a kiss of the cheek and said “oh you made bean burgers? i make them all the time” . I shook my head a bit and said “um, no you don’t. We’ve lived together for six months and you have yet to make them once”. We went back and forth like children and yes my tone did change due to do the annoyance I felt. I wanted him to just be honest, he felt i over reacted and didn’t understand what the big deal was and why I was being so mean. Bringing in our mutual friend into the equation as an allie did not help the situation and i continued on my ‘mean’ streak for the rest of the evening. Basically in this situation mean looks like me shutting down. Unresponsive, short, cold demeanor, sarcasm, and withdrawn. It came down to a he said she said, that we were both tired of doing. It was hard to communicate with I slipped into this kind of mode and he was seeing me through his own filters. I asked my closest people ” Do you think I’m a mean person?” Surprisingly to me, I got a bunch of yes responses, but always followed up with a but, your also loving, fun, caring…it’s just sometimes. It was very rare my partner would follow up one of his “you’re mean” with a positive so I just thought something was terribly wrong with me. Months of biting my tongue, repressed emotional outbursts, sad journals entries, and tears lead to hating myself for being something he didn’t like or want. I experienced deep insecurity.
Great rewards come to those who have the courage to see. I asked my good friend and fellow CE team member Stephan Gardner for some guidance and help, as he is a master of neutrality. He assisted me in seeing the positives of this situation and they came in the form of an unwavering bond of self-love, a deep desire to find out what was really going on, and a much more balanced relationship.
Being manipulative, demanding, and mean are parts of myself that I was denying, and in those moments when I embodied these characteristics, I was actually helping my partner come out of his delusions of having a girlfriend that is ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ and ‘loving’ all the time. Again, wanting all the pleasure without the pain.
It’s funny, since I’ve been chatting with Steve, I’ve realized that everything actually does serve our highest mission or values in this world. I’m not reading it in some book or listening to a lecture or talk from someone that “knows more than me”; I learned this from my own experiences and looking at them from a zoomed out perspective. Our shadow/ego self works so incredibly hard to get our attention and break us out of our fantasies and actually is a compensation to the extreme light side so many of us have made on this spiritual/awakened path. I think it’s time we revisit everything we think we’ve learned on this journey and ask ourselves what really resonates.
I asked Steve for some ways we can all integrate both sides of our psyche. A self-aware person will be able to identify moments when their ‘shadow self’ has come out. These can be difficult to do, but they are so worth it. He came up with these helpful tools:
- Identify moments where you have displayed your so-called shadow self.
- Write down how displaying that side, in those moments, were of benefit or service to you and those you displayed it towards.
- Write down the drawbacks if, in those moments, you had instead displayed your ‘light self.’
- How is your ‘shadow-self’ integral to achieving your highest values and life goals?
- What would be the downsides or drawbacks if you didn’t have this ‘shadow-self’?
There is always a golden, shiny nugget of wisdom, experience, and knowledge to be found in every challenge or seemingly negative trait we encounter. We need more wildly conscious people on the earth right now — it is time to get really real and balanced!
If you have any questions or need further clarification on the five points above, feel free to reach out to myself or Steve.
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