Last month I wrote an entry about shadows. If you haven’t read it, start here before diving into this one.
In this Part 2 and to start the conversation, I want to share some of my shadows. I share them because truth and the evolution of one’s being on this earth are important to me.
As a reminder, a shadow is the “house of all unintegrated feelings of childhood,” according to Dr. Shefali. Our shadows are the parts of ourselves we are afraid to show to others. It’s the parts of our identity (negative or positive) that we repress and deny because of past hurt. Maybe someone rejected that part of us or didn’t appreciate us as we’d hoped. Our repressed sides birth our fake persona called the ego.
The first time I saw Dr. Shefalis video on shadows, I was in a living room with three girlfriends. We saw it together and paused it whenever necessary. We discussed it. I was now aware.
Next time I watched it, I was with my then partner. We cried and got 100% real with each other. We confessed some of our darkest secrets and held space for each other. Ultimately, we helped each other get through some emotional barriers. It was one of the most magical and metamorphic experiences of my life. The power of love, vulnerability, and truth helped me to see my shadows. I was hooked and determined to go shadow hunting.
Here are three former shadows I’ve worked through.
1. Shadow of perfection: (repressed my explorer nature)
This shadow developed from words and expectations. Growing up, I was expected to be perfect. Everyone depended on me for too much. Being the eldest in a single parent household meant that I was the house administrator, translator, reader of all incoming mail, the customer service representative who handled bills and more. I was ON 24/7.
Because I thought I had to be the eliana my family expected me to be, I lived with fear. I thought that if I wasn’t a good girl, smart student, or overachiever I would be rejected. This lie contradicted my nature to explore and to question. I repressed my curiosities because I was afraid to stray away from the perfect path in front of me.
Here was the logic in my young mind:
If I explore and ask questions, then I will make a mistake.
If I make a mistake, then I will seem imperfect.
imperfection = rejection
Therefore, don’t question. Don’t wonder. Just walk the path.
Can you imagine growing up with this shadow? With time and much self-love, I took off the mask of perfection. I am 100% the explorer I have always been, and this time I embrace the imperfections of every journey.
2. Shadow of indecision: (repressed my intuition)
Since I grew up with the “good girl complex,” most of my decisions were made for me. I nodded my head and said yes to everything. I grew up with so much self-doubt and significant indecision problems. Seeking outside validation became the norm for me. Truth is, I didn’t trust myself and I was too afraid to choose the “wrong” thing.
Eventually, I learned to choose for myself. I spent time thinking of all possibilities and outcomes. Decision making became a task. I learned to listen to myself, make choices that felt good and lived with the result.
Both the shadow of perfection and indecision were the result of suppressed intuition and exploration. The root fear was possible
rejection due to mistakes or the appearance of imperfection. They go hand in hand.
3. Shadow of indifference: (repressed my ability to care)
I come from a lineage of caretakers. Profoundly caring is in my DNA! I care about humans, animals, and yes- I am that person that hugs trees and is afraid to step on ants. However, people took that care for granted. Caring became an undesired part of my identity. My heart broke every time others wouldn’t care as I did.
Enter the shadow of indifference.
This was a mask that said “Eh, I don’t care. Whatever you choose is fine.”
This shadow was complacent and no longer voiced its wants and needs. Why? Because the equation in my head said: “If I show them how much I care, it won’t be appreciated and I will get hurt.”
That was the lie I believed because I felt unheard and unseen. With time I learned to be wiser in how I love. I shared my full personality with those who showed me they cared. And, I followed the pace of those I was still getting to know. In both cases, I chose to be myself, just at a different pace. Wisdom helped me measure my care output.
So now it’s your turn. Did you identify with any of the above shadows? One of the ways to start becoming aware of your shadows is to ask yourself:
“What parts of myself have I repressed because of hurt or expectations? “
I encourage you to spend time thinking about this. Let it come to your awareness. I send love and healing to those parts of you. Be free.
I stumbled on this short video before publishing this entry. It sent me to tears. Though not the original intention, it depicts how easily we hide our personalities and let shadows form as we grow up. Grab some tea or coffee and watch. May it bring it all together.