One morning, as I dove deep into my own shadow work, I came upon a dark place. The first dark place I’ve encountered in quite some time. A place of fear. A place without lights and full of dark shadows casted on the ground all around me.
This place was my own belief. A conditioned and yet, unconscious belief, created as a child long ago.
You see, we are ALL born into this world as a WHOLE BEING. A beautifully illuminated soul innocently entering a space so that it can SHINE as one.
The first smile of a baby reveals this very shine; our aura of illumination.
However, the very moment we breathe in our first breath, our soul is instantly divided. Torn in two! Ripped apart and labeled.
The labels vary from soul to soul, as they are named by those individuals who are assigned as our guardians, our caregivers and our parents. Their very own divided selves and beliefs are poured into us, tagging our future and our existence.
We are taught polarity….right and wrong; good and bad; reward and punishment.
We are taught how to behave, what to believe and even how to manipulate others to attain status or rewards.
To cry may get us held or it may get us placed into cold and dark solitude.
Our primal pains and irritations may be soothed by a loving caregiver, holding us. Calming us. Rewarding us. We learn it is beneficial to cry.
Conversely, no matter how loud our screams, we are banished as infants into the dark space of our crib. Alone and afraid. Punishing us. We learn It is wrong to cry.
From this beginning moment in time, the beliefs of our parents hedge our own development. In solitude and darkness, we may learn to become self-comforted and independent. We entertain ourselves, enjoy our solitude and even cry less. Or we may revolt, developing the manipulative skills that get us removed from the dark; picked up and carried to another space.
We are conditioned, hearing the words of conflict by those in charge.
Don’t touch this!
Don’t eat that!
Shame on you.
I can’t believe you got dirty!
No dessert until you clean your plate.
Sit/act a lady!
Stop moving around.
Stop asking questions.
I’m talking to an adult.
You don’t sit with the adults.
Clean up your room!
Punishment often follows.
You are so pretty!
I love your hair.
Such a well behaved child.
Look at your room!!!
You made straight A’s again…I’m so proud of you.
You got first place…I’m so proud of you.
You cleaned your plate.
Such a pretty dress.
Look at that handsome young man.
Reward often follows.
This is the division of the soul from early on. It continues to separate, to rip apart as we are further divided through the systems in place: daycare, education, parents/grandparents, church and religious beliefs, career, intimate relationships, financial beliefs, political and government systems.
We are divided by the morals and codes of our own family and our own intimate partners and relationships.
We are divided because we are taught that NON-COMPLIANCE results in punishment and compliance gets rewards, even if those are intermittent.
We are conditioned, even brainwashed, into believing that certain behaviors and outward appearances will GET US REWARDS.
We are taught to turn away from those things that BRING PUNISHMENT and accept only that which BRING REWARDS.
Some will test the boundaries for a period time, but eventually, we all deny our innate whole.
Many will go underground to secretly engage the destructive side of having been conditioned to ignore their whole. Others will simply reject opposing views, beliefs and lifestyles, generating a fanatical or destructive system of living.
The deep wounds of the obese. The rejected self prevalent in the addict. The root of suffering in those who enable others, allowing them to treat them with disrespect.
These are the shadows of our whole. The pieces of ourselves that have been cast out into solitude and labeled as bad.
We all have shadows. They are not simple skeletons residing in our closet, but rather whole parts of ourselves, through social conditioning we have been taught to reject, ignore and forget.
These parts are sent away to live somewhere else. They are seen as ugly, bad, wrong and unacceptable. They are only going to get us punished and hurt. Berated and shamed. Judged and exiled.
But just like the child fathered during a one night stand, the rejected parts of our whole will return, someday, in some way or another.
What to do?
When you embrace your shadows,
giving them love and acceptance as a part of the whole you, you begin to reclaim your sense of self. Theoufh acceptance, you remove any labels of illegitimacy or ugliness. You recognize these shadows as part of you. Your whole. Accepted and welcome.
When you ignore them or reject them, you create dark wounds and infections that manifest in hurtful or negative ways. They continue to come around, sometimes with a destructive vengeance, in order to gain attention and acceptance. They, like a rebellious child, need to be reintegrated with their source as loved and accepted.
Their presence is often signaled by our own triggers, which is simply a reaction, albeit emotional, internal or outward. This reaction is present in one of two expressions:
DEFENSIVENESS or ATTACKING
A perfect depiction of triggering is seen in a common dialogue experienced by individuals in any type of relationship. It is when one person is strolling along, fully living their authentic-self, being who they are without any other thoughts. I AM GOOD. It’s a great day. I’m in a good mood. I feel confident; content.
Suddenly, another person enters their space, either physically or verbally, and expresses a strong opinion on a particular topic.
Of course, this in and of itself is NOT a trigger. It’s not defensive, nor is it. attacking. It’s an opinion.
The content individual doesn’t take the opinion negatively, even though they may not agree with it, for they understand perspectives and respect that all have a right to their unique perspective…it’s their unique journey and no one else’s.
This individual does not react at all. They listen with a mind of curiosity, saying ‘ok’ or giving a nod as feedback.
The opinionated individual then escalates their tone, bordering on yelling. Loud,
intense and aggressive words centered on ‘hate’ or condescending expressions. Again, this isn’t necessarily a trigger for the content individual, as they are just listening. Observing. Recognizing that the opinionated individual is obviously upset by something else. This content and confident person understand its not even about them, but how someone else acted or behaved or lived or believed.
Offering up a unique side, the one with confidence and peace decides that engaging with kindness but offering a differing perspective might be a good idea. It is a conversation, right?
Not a good idea….because now, our opinionated friend shows that he is not receptive to other perspectives, even if they are kind and from the heart.
This causes him to redirect their irritation and anger onto the content person.
Blame. Yelling. Conflict. Accusation. Criticism.
Maybe because he didn’t agree with their opinion or he felt unheard? Maybe he is closed off to the rights of others to have a different perspective. Regardless can
the opinionated individual has become triggered and begins to escalate and verbally attack the other’s perspective.
He may even tell them they are WRONG or that they are the problem. Again, blaming and punishing.
No matter how much the well-meaning tries to retreat, they become the target of a deep, unconscious wounding. If this once calm person becomes defensive and reacts by matching the behavior of their friend, then they too become triggered because of their own wounding.
What ensues can be silence, stonewalling, yelling, accusation, degradation, gaslighting, walking away or terminating the conversation through harsh words.
The shadow emerges when behaviors such as revenge surface; a need to get back at or find another way to have YOUR FINAL SAY.
Some people may send a reaction via email or text. Some write a letter. Some leave the house and go get drunk or take on mindsets like ‘well if she thinks I’m doing this, I may as well’. I am done. Closed off. Shut down. Walk out. Hang up.
This dialogue is common because we all have shadows and deep wounding. We all encounter things and people who trigger us.
The reality is that NO PERSON’S TRIGGER is more or less valid then another’s.
The trigger is not about the person who disagreed or had a different perspective, but rather it’s about the defensive or attacking person.
It’s about NOT BEING ENOUGH. Ignoring the contracts signed by our caregivers and the systems in place…not signed by us.
When we open up our eyes and our hearts to ourselves, we can fully embrace our whole.
That we are enough.
Every article we read. Every food we eat. Every video we watch. Every journal entry we write. Every perspective we hold. Every style we embrace. Every activity we enjoy.
It is all enough and we owe no one an explanation or a reason. Especially when we are living authentically and without harm to ourselves or others!
Harm reveals wounds and a person who is enough will bring no intentional harm. Not even to themselves.
To be enough requires no reaction. There is no shame or guilt, whether deflected as anger or revealed through manipulation and deceit. To be enough means we don’t feel a need to impress others or even ‘get back at’ them.
We don’t feel as though we have to prove to an individual in front of us that we ARE valuable. That our opinions are necessary. We don’t have a need to share our own practices in order to gain another’s validation or even avoid our own truth for fear of retribution.
My behavior in front of an individual matches my behavior away from them. I am authentic. I am enough.
If I value you, I tell you the truth. My truth.
I respect your rights to agree or disagree and I respect your choice to stay or leave. If you go, I wish you the best journey! Your journey.
Sometimes, when we are still learning that we are enough, we may take silent time for reflection. A time to sit with ourselves and be present with our feelings.
It is so ingrained and brainwashed into us as children we SHOULD be doing something different or chasing something else or not doing something, that when we finally see this as brainwashing, we don’t know what to say or how to act! We are dumbfounded.
At first, we may find ourselves triggered and defensive. But then, as we grow, we may become silent in response to others telling us directly or passively that who we are is NOT enough.
In that silence, we may respond internally with being triggered ourselves, until we are able to learn to hold space for ourselves and no take on the need to react to another’s issues.
We learn over time and through growth to not react with emotion, whether needing to attack someone or needing to defend oneself. We learn to not respond,
and not say things like ‘this is YOUR issue’.
But rather, hold space in silence.
When we are enough, we have compassion and learn to reflect in our own silence. We learn to talk to our highest self and ask ‘does this situation need my input’. In a triggered environment, the answer is a resounding ‘NO’!
As you grow and realize that the person you are right now, today, requires no defense…your choices of living require no explanation to another because you are authentic and have integrity….then and only then can you begin to see your wholeness.
We will all be triggered because somewhere deep within, we feel less than. We feel unworthy. We feel as though we are not enough.
The parts of us and our lives that we have rejected as wrong or bad or ignored, those shadows begin to act out and it’s here where we bring harm to ourselves, our relationships and our lives.
It’s in denying our whole where we find betrayal, addiction and distraction. It’s here we find extreme conflict, leading to yelling, criticism of others and our own destructive behaviors.
Our shadows are throwing a tantrum because they need love and acceptance so that they can return to the whole and just be.
When we realize we are enough, our shadows no longer throw tantrums. We aren’t triggered. We aren’t attacking or angry or upset. We aren’t defensive or codependent or victims or fearful.
When we realize we are enough….
We are WHOLE.