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People often try to hide who they truly are
by trying to be “normal” which often means fitting in with the crowd. For the most part, they are quite successful … for a while.
We all have parts of our personalities that we prefer to hide because we are afraid that if people see the “real us (or me),” we won’t be accepted for who we are and may even be shunned.
Those concealed parts of ourselves have been given a name. Referred to as “shadows”, they are the facets of ourselves we try to deny or to keep secret from others and even hide from ourselves.
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The shadow is the person you would rather not be and its message is conveyed through shadow beliefs such as:
- There is something wrong with me
- I’m not okay
- I’m not lovable
- I’m not deserving
- I’m not worthy
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Shadow beliefs influence our lives so much that they insidiously tell us what we can and cannot do.[/block]
When we were children, we wanted to be liked. Yet, it is in childhood that that we are first teased about a personality trait we may have, so we learn to hide that trait.
When I was a child, other kids would say to me: “You’re bossy!” Of course, this hurt my feelings. To steer attention away from the “bossy me,” I tried to be “normal” by becoming a people pleaser, the extreme opposite of the ridiculed trait.
In doing this, I compromised parts of myself so that I might fit in. I suppressed my “bossy” shadow because ‘she’ wasn’t acceptable to my peers and I replaced that shadow with a trait that was acceptable. However, I came to realize that this was but one shadow that I held.
Can you imagine how many kinds of shadows
each of us may have hidden away?
Frequently, we bury aspects of ourselves during childhood to feel safe and then, as we grow up and mature in other ways, we forget about those parts of ourselves because we concealed them so well. Know that it takes courage to step out from behind the mask self that we offer to the world and into one’s greatness; a greatness which also contains the seeds of the shadow too.
Our shadows reveal themselves when we bring them into our conscious awareness. It is then that we can transform them. A huge gift we can give to ourselves is to choose a new meanings or interpretations for these past events that awakened the shadow in the first place by replacing the old shadow beliefs with new empowering and supportive beliefs.
For example, is there a positive side about being “bossy”? Perhaps, once taken out of the shadows, it may become an ability to give direction to others so that projects are completed easily and quickly. The key is to find the positive value of each shadow aspect. This work is not about eliminating the parts of ourselves that we dislike, but about finding the positive side of these parts and integrating each one into our lives.
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Shadow work is about reclaiming our wholeness again.
It is about accepting and loving all of who we are. As we proceed along this journey, we discover that there is no longer any more blame, shame, or judgment for we are doing the work of transformation.[/block]