I first learned about the shadow through Anodea Judith’s Eastern Body, Western Mind.
She describes the shadow as being that piece of you that you keep tucked away. Locked away in chains or stuffed deep into your pocket. It’s this piece of you that maybe you are ashamed of. This piece of you that you can feel. You know it’s there but you don’t want anyone else to know it’s there. You’ve repressed it. It’s home has become that of the depths.
Here’s the thing with the shadow. We can lock it up, throw away the key even, but it doesn’t work. Your shadow will show up. It will pop into your life as a new neighbour, a boss or co-workers, your lover and children may start to show signs of your shadow. It will continue to come to you until you cast light. Until you acknowledge and begin to play a little bit.
Until you come to light with your shadow, those who are expressing what you’ve worked so hard to keep hidden will be met with intense judgement.
Still not sure what this is all about??? Here’s a nice example A.J. gives in her book. Say your shadow is your emotional self. You work to keep your emotions hidden. To remain calm and stoic on the outside, and just bubble on the inside. Your shadow will show up as those who are overly expressive with their emotions. And rather than meeting them with love and compassion, you will meet them with ridicule and scorn. Those who openly display your shadow self will make you feel uncomfortable. And as a protection mechanism you will want to dis-associate from these people to keep your shadow safe.
It makes us very uncomfortable to be around someone expressing our shadow energies. Our judgement is an attempt to negate the source of our discomfort. ~ Anodea Judith
Is this making sense yet??? Maybe this will help. My shadow side is that of a vagabond. There is a big part of me that just wants to say ‘fuck it all’ and head to the mountains. A big part of me that would like to couch surf, to work random jobs and move from place to place as the wind would have me. But I keep that locked away. I have a lease and a job, friends, family, commitments and responsibility.
Until very recently, I didn’t know that this was my shadow. And so these people would come into my life. These beautiful people full of adventure and wonder. These beautiful people who really did go where the wind would take them. And it drove me crazy! I judged them. I mean, I loved them and their zest for life. But behind closed doors this carefree spirit really rubbed me the wrong way.
Then I started working with my shadow and it all made sense. Now I can meet this wanderlust sort with nothing but love…pure love…true love, free of judgement. Because I have brought my shadow into the light. And this doesn’t mean that I pick up and move to France. It means that I take more time for adventure. Daytrips, roadtrips, playing hookie. That sort of thing. I have found a home for my shadow and she’s very happy where she is. I’ve started to play with my shadow.
Are you ready to play with yours??
Reclaiming the shadow dissolves judgement and brings greater acceptance of self and others and restores an essential wholeness. ~ A.J
Here’s some writing you can do around your shadow.