“You don’t love yourself or value yourself. If you did, you would never say the things about yourself that you do,” a friend said to me. I replied stubbornly, “I do love myself and value myself. It is when he doesn’t show it that it affects me.” This conversation repeated itself over and over and over again frustrating me to no end. My friend did not understand the truth. I felt fine about myself. It was being around other people that challenged it. It was their problem, not mine. Or was it?
In the past few weeks I was asked to share my feelings and thoughts with someone who was close to me in my life. What came back to me was hurtful, rejecting, and opened my eyes to so much. Where I went was into a dark place inside myself and I wanted to die. I no longer wanted to live. I felt shame, embarrassment, foolish, pathetic. It wasn’t because of him that I felt that way. It was because his words matched the beliefs in this dark place of myself – a remnant of the abuse I experienced as a child. I realized my friend was right. Deep inside me there was a place where I didn’t love myself and didn’t value myself. In fact, this dark place in me was assaultive towards me – wanted to hurt me and abuse me taking the place of the abusers in my life. What a revelation to see that darkness deep within me. This place is unworthiness and it contains the violence and hatred I was raised with and has been so well hidden. My denial empowered it and allowed its influence on my life from a hidden place. Staying hidden was harmful to me.
That, my friends, is the power of an unexplored shadow self. It can only hurt me if it remains in the dark hidden. Once I move past denial and see the truth, it can no longer hurt me. I recognized that I had a part of me that assaults me. I recognized that I did not feel safe with me and it was the fear of my reaction to the external world that kept me from expressing my truth. Because of this shadow part of me, I didn’t trust me. The frightening thing about it is I didn’t even know it. I kept projecting it onto the external world.
Debbie Ford, Author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers , a book I highly recommend, states “The Shadow Process gives us access to loving all of ourselves. This deep and profound work teaches us how to love each and every aspect of our humanity. It enables us to embrace both the darkness of our smallest self and the brilliant light of our highest self. Making peace with our dark side is a sacred journey. It demands rigorous honesty, courage and a great deal of compassion. Embracing our shadow delivers us emotional wholeness and the absolute freedom to be who we are. When we are filled with self-love and self-appreciation, we automatically attract the miraculous experience of love and appreciation from others.”
I took the time to explore this dark area of myself wanting to comprehend its value to me. The darkness is such a great teacher. I understood that its value was to protect me by keeping me distant from people so as not to share my truth and get the response I received from expressing my truth. Had I held to the belief of fear I would never have to experience the pain I felt at his words and more importantly, I would never had found this dark place inside of me. The darkness was illuminated through the painful interaction and what a gift that came to me.
I learned through this exploration that I treated myself as an option in my life while I made him a priority and he mirrored that back to me making me an option in his life and himself a priority in his life. Seeing this truth has provided me the opportunity to change and make myself a priority and recognize that being a priority in his life is important to me and if remaining an option doesn’t change, then the relationship changes and I move forward. Having said that, I know it is a transformative process and it has begun. By seeing the truth of this dark part, I’ve been able to disempower it and instead allow for the light and love of my heart and soul to enter in and begin the healing process. It is now in my conscious awareness and I recognize it for what it is and diffuse it.I know it isn’t always easy to see the shadow side of ourselves and we often wonder how to find it.
According to Debbie Ford “We don’t need to guess how we really feel about ourselves at the deepest level. All we have to do is look at how the outer world treats us. If we’re not getting the respect, love and appreciation we desire from the outer world, it’s more than likely we aren’t giving these things to ourselves. This is the benevolence of the Universe in action. The whole world is a mirror of our own consciousness, and when we make peace with the disowned aspects of ourselves, we make peace with the world.”
Please feel free to respond and share your shadow dance.