How to work with our shadow

July 19, 2012


(Photo by Wha’ppen)

This is important.

We all have a shadow within us – whether we are aware of it or not. There is nothing we can do about it. We can’t get rid of it (nor should we want to).

So if we expect to be happy and want to lead a fulfilling life, we must become familiar with our own shadow.

What is the shadow

“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” – Carl Jung

The shadow is our unconscious. It is primitive, instinctive, irrational. It can be mostly negative. All of the things we dislike about ourselves (and others) – stuffed deep down into the subconscious. We keep it hidden from society. It’s like the unwanted ugly stepchild.

Jung believes that all people are born with a positive and negative side. For some people, the shadow becomes so repressed (and therefore strong) – they act out in violent and dispicable ways.

Others who are able to accept and incorporate their own shadow become happy, enlightened, peaceful etc.

Think Jedi vs Sith


(Photo credit)

Anakin was a Jedi who let his rage/anger/hate take over – and the Sith master manipulated him into the dark side. The negative shadow within him took over because he wasn’t aware of it.

His son, Luke, was taught about his dark side (shadow) – so he resisted temptation even though he was becoming angry and resentful. His hometown and family were torched and his hand was cut off by Vader – yet he knew he couldn’t let the shadow take over.

It is utterly important to be aware of your own shadow so that the sith have no power over you.

The light & dark side are real! It exists. Just look around you for clear examples.

How I discovered the shadow

I recently read The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, noted psychotherapists. A book I highly recommend. One of the best helpful books I’ve ever read. (There’s also a tools companion iphone app which comes in handy in tough situations)

In it, one of the tools to use when you’re feeling intimidated or insecure – especially in front of an audience, is called Inner Authority. This is when instead of focusing on the audience, you picture your shadow to your side, focus on the shadow fully and connect with it – become one. Then both of you turn towards the audience and scream (in your mind) for them to LISTEN! You demand the audience to listen to you.

This intrigued me to do more research, leading to a book called Meeting The Shadow, which is a collection of work about the shadow by prominent people, including Carl Jung.

Work with the shadow – not against!

I believe it is super important we learn as much about the shadow as we can (RIGHT NOW) and then learn to work with it rather than against it.

Why?

Well, according to Jung, even though the shadow represents a lot of the negative things our society does not accept – it is also where creativity, imagination etc lies. Want to clear writer’s block? Are you afraid of public speaking? Scared of intimacy? The solution lies in your shadow.

You can’t run from your shadow. You can’t get rid of it. You can’t repress it without suffering it’s wrath. We must integrate and work with it – accept it and lead a whole life.

Shadow figures often appear in our dreams. If we learn to remember our dreams and work on becoming lucid – we can oftentimes interact with our own shadow and ask what it wants.

I haven’t reached lucidity yet but am getting closer and closer.

How I integrated with my shadow this week

I noticed that I often have self-sabotaging tendencies. I’ll work out for a while, then quit. I’ll diet for a while, then get a huge urge to binge eat. I’ll work on a project, but give up before it’s done. I get intense urges to skip important meetings or events and have to work extra hard just to go to them. I used to skip classes all the time in college, regardless of tests or important projects. You get the idea.

After reading about the shadow, I became excited because these were classic shadow tendencies.

My shadow was sabotaging what I want/need to do. Not maliciously – but for its own reasons. Maybe the shadow was feeling scared or vulnerable. Maybe the shadow was seeking attention – wanting to be recognized and noticed. The shadow wants something I am not giving it.

This is an experiment I tried this week. I made an agreement with the shadow. Out loud. While driving.

I apologized to my shadow for ignoring it for so many years. I had no idea it existed, I said.

I said I wanted to work with the shadow rather than against it. And I know to develop this trust may take some time, but I am willing to work hard to earn its trust.

No longer will the shadow be the ugly discarded step child. My shadow is now my equal partner. It is my right hand. I cannot survive without its help. I need my shadow! And I’m willing to say it out loud.

I have three immediate goals, I told my shadow:

a) I want to take all of the vitamins, supplements that I need for my body (fish oil, vitamins, digestive enzymes, probiotics and a few other things). This is vitally important to me (my conscious self) because it puts me towards the path of great health. My body needs these items to work at optimal level.

b) I want to exercise, work out, move around for at least 30 mins – 4x a week. Important.

c) I want to drink a green shake every day. Essential to my health to get all the nutrients it needs.

These three items, done regularly, will move me towards the body I have been wanting for over 20 years.

I cannot do this without the help of the shadow. It holds all the power over me. The shadow controls my willpower, my unconscious and especially my dream state. Majority of me is in the shadow’s hand!

In return for shadow’s help, I will give it what it wants.

What does my shadow want?

a) To eat what it wants when it wants, even if it’s “junk” food. My shadow craves these foods and I don’t want to deprive it of them. As long as I get what I want above, my body will become healthier and eventually not crave junk food anyways.

b) To do nothing, skip events, meetings or whatever, when it wants. I will indulge my shadow in these also – the shadow only wants to skip things when it’s feeling vulnerable. As long as I get all my nutrients and work out, my body will be changing for the better and confidence will rise. The shadow will eventually no longer want to skip things!

c) Take naps, surf the internet, watch tv shows, read books, listen to podcasts, etc. ie: distractions. This is also ok as long as I get what I want.

Results:

Wow. The results are amazing so far!

I’ve been taking my supplements regularly. I’ve been drinking green shakes. I’ve even moved around for 30 mins yesterday (wii tennis, good first step) and 35 mins today (wii boxing, felt like a full workout, sweat & cardio!).

I was able to comfortably go to a restaurant and eat by myself. I have done this a bunch of times but usually it is filled with anxiety – this time it was ok! Also spent a couple hours at a coffee shop (another one of my goals).

And the best part is, it didn’t feel like climbing a mountain. My mind and body wanted to do it. It was ready to do it. It felt pumped to do it. There was no forcing. It was automatic!

And want to know the best part?

Creativity is on overload!

My creativity is back! I’ve been wanting to record a youtube video for over a year. For one reason or another, I’ve been putting it off.

a) My shadow inspired me to record a 40 min video this past week! I even went to the forest preserve to record it. The whole event was a beautiful experience. (Can see results in video section)

b) I wrote a blog post I had been putting off for a few months (kevin james kale shake).

c) I recorded another 15 minute video this week while waiting for an appointment. Normally I’d just wait in the car or in the reception – but a strong inspiration popped into my mind to whip out my ipad and to do a quick video! It felt like a lightening strike.

d) When I got home, I got an idea for my first iphone app. I have been racking my brain since 2010 for ANY app idea but came up with blanks. This idea popped in my mind like another lightening strike. And it’s a great idea and something I want to use myself. More on this later!

e) This morning, after the fun 35min wii boxing – I immediately had the idea to write this post. Normally, writing is super hard for me and I have to really work up to it. This post came into my mind like a BANG and here I am, writing it, without caring about edits, spelling or whatever else my conscious mind would normally worry about.

f) more to come!

Please, whatever you do – read as much as you can about your shadow and make up with it asap! You’ll be happy you did.

Thanks shadow!

Postscript:

I got the idea to negotiate with my shadow from Bashar, my favorite channeler! Watch this video where he talks about how to negotiate with your ego so that it lets you have what you want.

Kamal August 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I enjoyed exploring your website. You seem to have a positive outlook on life which is great. I think you would like a book called “The Wellness Paradigm” by Dr. Chestnut. Good luck to you on your future and keep making the most out of life!

Deepak Nair August 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Kamal! Thanks for the nice words. I will definitely check out that book asap. Thanks for the rec.