I love Instagram – I love getting little snippets of friend’s lives, I love seeing my ‘soul tribe’ share their work with the world. I love being able to interact with the people I look up to. But I have a small problem with it. All too often I only see one side – the side that’s full of ‘light and love’. I see the smiling faces, the inspiring quotes and affirmations, the beautiful crystals, flowers and gifts from mother earth, the tarot and oracle card spreads. It’s serious eye candy but at the same time, it’s fleeting.
Think about it. What happens the second you close the screen on your computer, or you put your mobile down? It’s gone. We’re all looking for that quick fix and sure a two minute search on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, will get us just that. But like I said, it’s a quick fix. It’s gone before we even move onto the next activity. What I want to see more of is the whole picture. I want to see your dark, shadow side, the messy, ugly, painful parts of you. Because they are parts of you and they are what connects us as human beings.
Cal Jung describe our shadow as the ‘dark side’ of our personality. It is the unconscious (or subconscious) aspects of ourselves that we try to hide, we push away, we fear. We all have a shadow however, and as much as we may try to push it away, it will always be there. It doesn’t matter how much ‘light work’ we do. How often we ‘visualise our dreams’ or repeat our affirmations, there is no denying our shadow.
There are so many ‘light-workers’ out there today and don’t get me wrong – they do incredible work. But from my personal experience and the work I’ve done with hundreds of clients, the real change comes when we dive into our shadows. Uncovering the shadow requires deep inner work. It brings up all the muck we have sitting at the bottom of our inner lakes. Once it’s been stirred, it clouds everything and stops us in our tracks. It makes us sit down and listen.
Let me share an aspect about myself that was hidden in my shadow for over 20 years. I have a deep fear of being alone. It started in my childhood. I remember fearing my dad really would stop the car and make me walk home if we didn’t stop squabbling in the back seat, I remember the excitement mixed with fear of school excursions – of going to the toilet and missing the bus, of getting left behind. I remember going to bed at night and fearing something would happen to my mum or dad and I’d wake up in the morning – alone.
This fear played over and over – throughout my childhood, and well into my adult life. As a child I would do whatever it took to not be alone – I would keep my mouth shut in the back of the car, I would deliberately ‘hold on’ than run the risk of missing the bus, I would bring on headaches so that my mum would sit with me while I went to sleep at night. Believe me, I was the master of ‘not being alone’. Yet at the same time, it intrigued me.
As an adult, I decided to confront my fears. I booked a ticket to travel through South East Asia – alone. I was terrified. My travels ‘alone’ led me down dark alleys off Koh San Road, Thailand; it had all my money stolen from my bag in a remote village of Lao, it had me left on the side of a road somewhere between Seam Reap and Phenom Phen, Cambodia – with no other transport in sight. It bought up those fears like nothing else, but it bought up something else as well, something I least expected in those grim moments – connection!
Stirring up all that muck, made me realise I was never alone. In each situation, there was always a hand reaching out to me. I didn’t always understand what was being said (I was too young and naïve to actually learn a bit of the language before I left), but I came to understand that sometimes body language speaks louder than words –a hand-gesture, a smile, a simple look of understanding – I am here, you are not alone.
I now embrace that shadow side of me – there will always be a little bit of fear, but I’ll take that fear if it brings connection. Just last weekend, my town hosted a music festival. The place was FULL of people and friends, but I found myself in a situation that my younger self would have called ‘completely alone’. I’d lost all of my friends, no one looked familiar, and no one could hear their phone ringing as I tried my best to find them. So I went with my shadow – alone.
I walked into a venue packed full of people, music, ‘life’, I walked into the middle of the dance floor and I let myself go – I danced like a wild woman, completely free, and you know what – I couldn’t have felt more ‘connected’ if I tried!
Not all aspects of our ‘shadow’ are known. In the story I shared, I was aware of this part of myself and I was ready to confront it. My ‘therapy’ was actually going out and being alone. It was discovering my truth. But this part of ourselves is often hidden in the depths of our subconscious. There are a great many tools available today for working through our shadows – in my practice I use a combination of kinesiology, shamanic healing and intuitive reading.
I work intimately with women, guiding them through a process which brings their shadow into the light. I help women reveal aspects of their selves that they didn’t even know existed, or perhaps like me they knew, but they denied because it was simply too dark. I help women find the truth in their shadows and ‘own’ all aspects of themselves. Just as Jung described, the shadow is the seat of our creativity. By only walking through the ‘light’ we deny that beautiful, messy, creative part of ourselves that really makes us whole.