Growing up means, among other things, that we suppress and hide the things about ourselves that scare us or do not seem to be good enough, likeable or acceptable, for example to our parents, to other people of significance in our lives or to our social environment. This could for example be emotions like anger and joy or it could be our creativity. The things we suppress, hide and later forget so we often cannot see them in ourselves, create our shadow. These aspects are then easily projected unto others in our daily life.
It is helpful to notice what we admire, sometimes envy or even what irritates and angers us the most about other people or the world. Then we can, through reflection, contemplation and silence, find courage and wisdom to realize that what creates the admiration or even irritation is really something deeply buried within our own hearts.
Jesus talked about how easily we see faults in others instead of in ourselves (Matt. 7:5). How often do we not criticize others when instead we should have set aside some time for silence and contemplation.
It often takes years, yes even a lifetime, to fully embrace our shadow. But still, by realizing what we are actually doing when we are projecting our shadow (gifts, emotions, personality traits) upon others, we find a way to start. When we truly realize the need to look within we find a new beginning.
It is important not to think that shadow and evil are the same, because they truly are not. By actually finding and embracing our shadow we may find hidden treasures. What this process, often painfully, can do, is to lead us to greater acceptance, freedom and joy. Eventually we can let go of the hazzle it is to be critical of others when we more and more embrace our own shortcomings. At the same time we find new meaning and joy through rediscovering hidden gifts that were given to us at the beginning of our life journey.
Suggested reading: If you would like to learn more about shadow work reading books by Robert A. Johnson, like “Inner Gold” and “Owning Your Own Shadow” could be a place to start.
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Revised October 14th, 2018