My shadow and I made friends this week. I’m not referring to the shadow that follows me along on a sunny day although this shadow follows me along too. The shadow I made friends with lives on the inside of me in the darkest corners of myself where I don’t like to look.
The shadow on the inside was best described by a famous psychiatrist named Carl Jung. In brief, Jung believed that the shadow side of us contains the parts of us that are of a dark nature–negative emotions such as anger, envy, greed, etc. Jung theorized that most humans do not like to look at the these dark emotions/personas and push them down even further into the corners of our psyche. For me, it seemed like a safe place to keep dark things until someone asked me a very simple question…
Who do you become when you don’t get your way?
It made me pause. Who do I become when I don’t get my way? If I am honest about it, sometimes I want to explain why my way is better. Sometimes I want to defend why I like my way. Sometimes I want to convince the other person to see my way. Sometimes I want to prove that my way is right. Sometimes I want to gather others who believe in my way.
And he said…love that part of you that shows up in that moment. Love the explainer, the defender, the manipulator, the gatherer. Love all of it. The part that is showing up in that moment is the part that needs the most love. Don’t try to push it away. Love it and that part will let go of you.
Again he asked, Who do you become when you don’t get your way?
I answered that sometimes I become irritated.
And he said, love that part of you.
Who else do you become?
Love that part too. Who else do you become?
Love that part too.
Really? My natural inclination is to fix that part so it won’t be irritated or hide my frustration or be ashamed of my jealousy.
He said…love the part of you that wants to fix, wants to hide, wants to be ashamed. More love not less. Whatever shows up gets love.
Are you serious? Love. Not fix? Love?
Yes. And love the part of you that is now being skeptical. Love the part of you that is doubting. Love it because it is the part of you that is showing up to be loved right now. Love the sinner part of you and the saint. Love the bad girl and the good girl. Love the part that thinks you should be better, different, more. Love all of it. Whatever shows up. Love it.
And then I got it. It was like a lightening bolt. Unconditional love. Unconditional love for myself. Loving all of it. Loving the whole of it no matter what part is on display. Loving the pain and the peace. Total acceptance of whoever I happen to be right now. Afraid, nervous, insecure, joyful, happy, excited. Whatever part of me that surfaces needs love. Especially the shadows. They need the most love. More love. Not less.