One day painter Bob Ross said:
“You need darkness to be able to show the light.”
He also said:
“It’s hard to see things when you’re too close. Take a step back and look. “
These words of wisdom summarize well the nature of our shadow. It is necessary to know our light and to tame our shadow.
It’s about accepting parts of you that do not fit into the orderly and tidy box of your identity. Anything that does not fit the self-image is suppressed, which prevents the life force from flowing naturally.
For example, I grew up in a family that valued intellect and sarcasm rather than emotions. So, from an early age, I forged an intelligent and sarcastic image because I wanted to integrate.
Gradually, I began to suppress my emotions and to feel a strong aversion to those who, in my opinion, were “too emotional”. By taming my shadow, I was able to feel complete again.
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So, why should you tame your shadow?
In reality, it is your ticket to freedom, the friend who saves you from prison. And you create this prison yourself, you create a self-image that encloses your soul in a box.
Your shadow helps you see what cuts you off the light. Taming it allows the ego to fade and the light to pass.
Here is a 6-step process to tame our shadow and let in more light:
Step 1: Identify the shadow
Answer the following question: if you went to your Facebook or Instagram profile and someone said you are _____ (a quality, trait, behavior, etc.), what could be the most hurtful and the most offensive?
Most shadows have an aspect of judgment. Ask yourself this question: what do we judge in others? This question will help you to be clearer because what you judge is what you repress in you. For example, if I judge someone as disorganized, it is likely that I will repress this trait and consider myself an organized person.
Take the enneagram test. This test will help you go beyond the identification of your personality type, but also of what you are repressing.
Step 2: What is your answer?
Now that you have identified your shadow, you can use your life experience to test. Notice when your shadow goes to the surface, how do you react? There are four basic answers: distract, project, repress, or accept.
Distracting looks like drinking, taking ice cream, avoiding, etc. When you project, you make others responsible for how you feel. For example, if I think “others make me feel uncomfortable”, it is likely that the tension I feel in the presence of others reflects my perception of myself (I may have low self-esteem).
To repress might be to identify the shadow as bad and belittle it or pretend it is not there. To accept is to let the trait be there and watch it pass and/or express it.
Step 3: Observe and/or express
A healthy way to respond to the shadow is to observe and/or express it. For example, I wanted to move into a new apartment but I did not have the funds to pay a down payment.
I knew that my shadows were to appear in need because I felt an aversion towards those who wanted to borrow money from a friend. It did not correspond to my image as an independent person.
My reaction was first to observe. The shadow hates observation because it can not stay in your experience. The tension literally disappeared when I drew my attention to it.
The expression is another way to tame the shadow. You express the part of yourself cut off. In my case, I expressed my need and asked for money from my friend. I say AND / OR because sometimes the line could be difficult to express.
Step 4: Write down the results
Then, note how you feel the integration of the shadow. In my case, I had the impression to find my life force. Now, when I need something, I am able to accept it in my experience and not to judge it as good or bad.
Step 5: Be kind
The shadow is surrounded by fears. It is mainly afraid of being judged in a certain way. Giving love and empathy is a nice way to calm fear. So, when I notice a shadow, I quickly repeat the mantra “I now release all judgments of myself and others”.
Step 6: Learn the shadow language
It is difficult to summarize this in one article. So, I advise you to do more research on the subject.
Just as the Buddha said to monitor your thoughts, your emotions, etc., you need to watch some aspects of your shadow. The more you know the language of the shadow, the more clearly you can see this shadow.
We need shade in our lives because each experience is a teacher that brings us back to our true nature. We learn to accept everything (not just the parts we think are good).