Sunday, 10 August 2014

On shadow work

Try this with your partner, friends or a teenage child. Stand up, reach up for their hands, your palms wide open, but don't touch them. Just stand with your hands almost touching between you. The task is to move your hands and let the other follow your moves, pace, direction.

After a while change the roles, let them lead. 
How does it feel to be in control? How is it when you have to follow not knowing what to expect?

This is the kind of exercise we did on the workshop called Boundaries Between Us last week in England. And this was the first time I realized how uncomfortable I feel not knowing, not being in control, in charge of choices. 
I had to admit (willing or not) that I am a leader, sometimes bossy and even manipulative. I am good at that. 
And that's all true despite my deepest desire to please others, help them, let them grow in their own ways. 

"So what's the problem?" You might ask. The problem is I didn't want to admit this to myself in the first place. Sometime in the past I must have convinced myself that it is not right this way, that it shouldn't be like that.
Jung would say I had formed a shadow then.

"Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." Jung 

Still deeply touched by the experiences from last week, I decided to dig deeper and do a little bit of shadow work. Shining a light on the shadows I ignored and overlooked all those years. 

Jung says that what we repress comes back to us through people we meet, their behavior and characteristics that annoy or irritate us most. I looked back at the most significant relationships I had (have) and found similarities. 
What did I find? Passivity, insecurity, undecisiveness, aloofness, lack of commitment and persistence!
I was forced to take the lead, to decide, to control, to commit!

But this is not the end of the work. This is not the solution, it is just seeing the things as they are, acknowledgement and acceptance.

What I repressed long time ago was my own aloofness, detachment, undecisiveness and ability (willingness) to simply follow and let go!

I need to learn and become comfortable with unknown, unexpected, not planned.

"The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge." Jung 

If you want to try shadow work too. Here is a way to start. It might (and should) take you much deeper though. Do not judge yourself, accept yourself as you are (as opposed to "who you should be") and finally look for the positive qualities it can bring into your life (because it does!).

1. What characteristics do I find annoying/irritating/frustrating on others?

2. What might others find irritating/annoying about me?

3. What would I be like if I had some of the characteristics from question #1?

4. How can I love myself with those characteristics more?

I am safe wherever I am. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! I can trust!

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