Hello life lover,
It’s been a while since I show up in your virtual space.
In these last two months, I’ve been busy directing a camp (like I do every summer), went on vacation to St. Maarten to recuperate and honestly I’ve dealing with my shit.
The universe has been testing every area of my life, and I feel, no I KNOW, that it’s time to step it up in many ways. Though I cried, bitched and complained, truth is I asked for this. I asked for more. I asked for transformation, and it came in the form of emotional pain.
On August 12th, something horrific happened in the United States. If you are not caught up with the events that shook many, there is a link at the end of this letter for you.
Such event and my personal journey have made me think about one thing in particular: shadows.
Even though I’ve dealt with them all of my life, the idea of shadows became clearer to me when I learned about Dr. Shefali Tsabary. While most of her work is dedicated to conscious parenting, she also teaches about shadows, specifically how they get in the way of us living life. It all starts when we are young.
Shadows are the dark parts of us. They are the parts of us that we don’t know about or pretend are not there. Shadows occur as a result of not expressing or processing our feelings or as Dr. Shefali states, “the shadow is the house of all unintegrated feelings of childhood.” When we are growing up, most of us are not taught to be vulnerable. We are not shown to say “This is hurting me. I feel sad. I am angered by this situation. ”
Instead, we are taught to avoid connecting with our human emotions. We learn the fear of expression to avoid pain. We become so good at escaping the pain, convinced we are fooling it. But the truth is that pain masks itself in different ways, and most of us avoid it daily. This little escape habit creates our second persona, otherwise known as the ego. The sole intent of the ego, according to Dr. Shefali, is to shield our authentic self from pain. It speaks up, whines, complains and does whatever it takes to protect us from feeling hurt or any other emotion that threatens our safety net. Sometimes, that includes love.
But I’m not here to discuss love today. I want to talk about the importance of shadows. And in light of what’s been happening in the States, one key question comes to mind:
How can we collectively deal and heal with the shadows of our country, if we lack the courage to heal and deal with our personal shadows?
Take a minute to re-read that question again.
The answer is: we can’t. Yes, there are a ton of things you can do when something tragic happens. You can go ahead and Google: What can I do after Charlottesville?
You will stumble on articles with essential guidelines on how to get involved in making a change on a collective level. Implementing that advice is a great first step. But here is the thing, getting involved collectively is not enough if you are not aware of your shadows.
Why? Because you will continue interacting with others every day, running away from your pain and into someone else’s unconscious parts. You will continue to manifest on a macro level what already exists on the micro level of your everyday life.
One of my favorite quotes from Paulo Coelho is:
“The more you understand yourself, the more you understand the world.”
Understanding yourself is deeper than just knowing what your favorite foods and show are. The ability to get yourself starts from self-awareness. Do you know your weaknesses? Do you know your triggers? Have you faced your shadows or are you still playing patty cake with life?
Look I am not judging. I have been on all sides. I was once blind to my identity. At times, my identity has been my security. I have been rebellious and avoided my shadows. And I have consciously and intentionally faced the ugliness of my heart.
It’s time to wake up and step it up. I talk a lot about self-love and the importance of actually learning to love ourselves. I honestly believe that establishing that foundation will make life easier, will make us happier, and will help us cultivate loving relationships with others.
But loving yourself is not just focusing on the positive and repeating little mantras to yourself.
Loving yourself is purposely finding your shadows, breaking them open, and letting the light shine through the cracks.
It’s facing your truth. It’s admitting your weaknesses and saying “Shit, how can I get better at this? Why does this make me lose my center? Why do I keep running to this bad habit?”
Facing your shadows starts with admitting you have them. And so I want to challenge us. I want to challenge us to get better by realizing that our shadows are waiting for us to recognize and incorporate them into our lives. Choosing to neglect yourself, affects us all.
It’s not a coincidence that today is the “Great American Eclipse,” as some are calling it. Even the day is showing us the importance of embracing our dark parts. Where there is light, there is darkness. You can run. You can hide, but eventually, you need to face your pain.
If you are ready to jump into this reflection, I have provided some resources below. Start by getting informed with what happened in the States, a sad day that showed us how great of a shadow we have as a country. Then watch Dr. Shefalis video. As you watch it, ask yourself, what are my shadows?
Below are some resources:
Next week, I will share part two of this. I’m going to vulnerably lead the way and expose some of my shadows and how I’ve dealt with them. I pray the above video and your intentional thoughts towards your darkness, brings you much light and healing. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Remember, revelation comes through conversation.