How to Deal with Your Own Shadows


Hey, it's Debbie answering a question posted on our Facebook page about how to deal with shadows and not to let them bring us down, or how to keep in a higher state without getting bogged down by shadows and difficult life things that happen!

Addressing shadows is a MASSIVE process in and of itself. In fact, I could write a course about shadows. But for those of you that don't know what a shadow is or want to understand them better, a shadow is a part of ourselves that we don't like, or that we reject or resent within ourselves, or a state of being that's a negative vibration that we have that doesn't really serve us, but it kind of trips us up again and again.

So it could be a body image issue. It could be that you get angry and that you don't want to be, or it could be that you doubt yourself a lot, or it could be that you have fallings out with friends a lot. It is something in your life that trips you up again and again that you don't really want to "own" or that you dislike about yourself. You certainly wouldn't introduce it in a new social situation, and put your heart on your sleeve and tell everyone what your deep fears or shadows are. Often they feel humiliating.

Now, shadows can be known. I know I get angry. I cannot hold down a job. Or, they can be unknown. Everyone else knows that you get angry, but you don't see it. Or they can be golden shadows, which are parts of yourself that you've rejected because you are told they are not valuable. They are usually something beautiful about yourself, hence golden, but you've rejected them because of a childhood shame, such as, I'm a beautiful creative artist and my dad wanted me to grow up to be a commercial banker. So, therefore, anything that's been creatively designed is squashed or rejected or held down. One of my clients passionately wanted to work with animals growing up, and her family didn't think that was the right thing to do, so they pushed her into engineering. Crazy! So golden shadows are parts of ourselves that are indeed quite beautiful, but they're held back and rejected. Shadows are considered dark. They're like a shadow in that they follow you around. They don't go away until you deal with them.

The idea of a shadow is that they have to, at some point, be spiritually evolved and integrated. Here are five key points of how to think about how not to let your shadows govern your life and stop you from being in your higher states of consciousness, or stop you from living a spiritually evolved and open life. These 5 brief steps can give you a quick start, and I can elaborate further down the track on how you might tackle them more deeply.

The first step is that you have to be aware of them. You have to know what they are, which is called recognition or observation. So you have to understand that if someone's triggering you because they can be triggered by someone else or they can be triggered just internally. So if I'm going about doing something and I feel insecure, and my shadow comes up around not being good enough, then that's just triggered within myself. Or they can be triggered by someone else. And that usually happens when someone's acting in a behaviour that mimics your own, it can trigger yours. So you might hate something about someone, but what you're really doing is seeing that behaviour in yourself and it's triggering it for you. Or it could be that that person has a behaviour that you have a deficit of, and therefore it's also triggering. So whether someone else triggers your shadow or whether you do it yourself, the first step, step one, is that you be aware of it, and you give it some attention and some air time. Shadows or trauma just want to be recognised and witnessed. So stop, be still, be aware, and just know it. And almost say to yourself, "Isn't it interesting how Debbie is being triggered by this shadow today?" and it puts you ON it and not IN it. So that's just the first step of "I see you", I'm aware of it, I know that it's happening, I'm going to name it. And then that in and of itself is quite a healing step.

The second step is, where did this come from? When did it start? How did I develop this? Can you trace it back to early childhood? Can you think about where it started, or where it comes out the most, or even what triggers it? And that's another step of evolution and going within your spiritual self to really figure out where these things are coming from. Because if you can't figure out where the original cause is stemming from, then it's harder to integrate it and let it go.

The third step is what I call "flipping your shadow". Now, I do this a lot with people. I'm going to shortcut this. It's a process. But just to give you some ideas for today, flipping your shadow says, well, if the negative is this, what's the positive? Because everything that has a front has aback. So if you're doubting yourself, for example, or lack of self-worth is your shadow, then the opposite is that maybe you analyse things more, or you think things through more clearly, or maybe you're more humble in your approach, or maybe you take time and care. Whereas if you didn't doubt yourself, you'd rush and be impatient. Maybe you would be ego driven. That's one of my shadows, impatience. So there's always a flip. There's always a positive. And for you to understand that you need to look at the two sides of the coin and flip it. And what that means is you integrate it, which ultimately you look for the positive, you stay in the positive, and you understand the negative, and you work through that. Without the negative, you cannot get the positive  (the gold). So you have to love it not reject it. Hating a shadow means it grows. 

The fourth step is, once you've figured out why the shadow serves you and why you need this shadow, you can then give it what I call the "shaman's death", which is giving it a very spiritualistic death or funeral. And you celebrate it, and you let it go, and you honour it for the lessons because it's always teaching you something. You honour the positive qualities that have emerged because it is - as in step 3. And then you honour that and give that a death. And I've got some death principles around fire ceremony, and writing a little eulogy around it, or a funeral, and really deathing that shadow.

And then, the last step, finally, is then to really practice this new way of being. So if you're trying to overcome or move past your shadow, what would be the new behaviour, or what would you like to embody? If your shadow was impatience, the new behavior might be calmness or acceptance. And then start to practice that and to grow that from a thought to a life form to energy, so that this new way of being is- is not the opposite, necessarily, of the shadow, but playing in the positive and creating more energy around that. And that becomes your dream weave in this sea of energy that we're all in.

So you can see that the first step is awareness, and the last step is practicing new habits and new energies so that you can move past what is probably quite confronting and debilitating. So when someone asks, "How do you rise above it, not letting it get in your day to day life?" the message is to be aware, understand and look at it, give it some time, honour it, look at the flip, give it death, and practice new behavior.

And even just doing that keeps you in a spiritual mindset of being on it, not in it, of staying on top of it, and staying in what I call "master observer" rather than staying in the sluggishness and the day-to-day emotion that pulls you down. The best teacher, or the best lessons you'll get, are other people when they trigger your shadow. And they give you this perfect mirror of what it is that you're dealing with. So thank those people, as annoying as they could be some time. Thank them and go, "Wow. You've just highlighted a wound in me." And I think there's a great Rumi quote about "your light is where your wound enters you", or something like that, meaning wherever you're wounded, there's the ability for light to come in, and to grow and evolve. So, honour those wounds, but definitely clean them up, and definitely pay attention, and definitely stay above them. Hope that helps and makes sense. There's a lot more on shadows. I've spent 20 years on shadows. So any questions, or if you want me to elaborate on a particular point, let me know. Love to help. Thank you.

P.S. Keen to look more deeply into shadows? I write a course called the Confident Self that covers 6 modules on how you can understand your true spiritual self and one of those exercises covers SHADOWS, which is a game-changer. Read more below. 



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