We have discussed emotional development primarily from the point of view of acute work that needs to be done now, such as overcoming negative shadow.
This work starts with self-awareness of our emotional shadow. Then we can move to managing our emotions, leading to more self-control and resiliency.
We use self-awareness tools such as the witness process and box breathing to identify the shadow. Then we use the tools of transmutation and recapitulation to clear up shadow.
We eradicate our regrets so that they no longer chain us to the past.
All this work will ultimately clear up past emotional trauma and lighten the load of emotional baggage we carry on our journey. That way we can continue waking up and growing up so we can show up as our whole, integrated self.
This has been a difficult topic, and we have covered a lot of ground.
Always remember, you are not looking for perfection, just perfect practice.
Regrets are known shadow issues you have not had the courage to resolve.
You have identified them but have not objectified or resolved them. You are still merged with the negative energy of the situation. Regrets kill your motivation and rattle a fragile peace of mind.
To begin to free yourself of your regrets, identify the memories and the root emotional trauma from which they were born. Then define the trauma as an object that is not you but outside of you. Say to this object: “You are not me, and you do not mess with my life anymore.”
The energy associated with the trauma will begin to dissipate, along with regret and the patterns that typically arise as a result of the suppressed energy.
Bottom line, we do not need to be a victim to our shadow, whether in the form of weak stories or stored emotional energy leading to reactionary behaviour.
Anything that we think, feel, and do is our sole responsibility. So choose to let go of that regret and change the feelings, thoughts, and behaviour associated with it.
That is the uncommon mindset you need to develop to reach your full potential. Take responsibility. Feel the pain. Then get over it.
Eliminate regrets of the past to allow you to accelerate into the future.
Recapitulation is used to address and release issues that you have identified and are committed to resolve.
The process requires courage and patience. Focus on one issue at a time, starting with the worst. Often all your other issues stem from that one !
This is only an outline of the recapitulation process.
Get into the right state of mind. Write down the issue, the negative impact it has had, and what you believe to be the root cause of the emotional patterns that keep showing up.
Set an intention to clear up the shadow and ask your witnessing self for guidance and support.
Bring the issue into your conscious awareness. In your mind’s eye, travel back in time by remembering events where the shadow issue tripped you up.
Continue to remotely view into your past, looking for emotional storms.
Keep tracing back until you begin to identify the underlying incident. Objectify the situation. Separate from it and watch yourself going through it from a second person and the third person perspective.
Let go of attachment to that energy. Apologize to yourself for holding on to the negative energy for so long.
This practice sounds esoteric because it is. Practice it in earnest, and you will find that it works.
Your emotions’ raw energy is neither good nor bad; it is simply an expression of your being at that moment in time.
Emotions are necessary to be a whole person, it is important to be aware of them, so as to not repress them, and then to develop healthier responses to them.
Look at the emotions on the left side of the chart below. Which do you experience? How often and what triggers them?
So, how do you direct your emotional states to their healthy expressions on the right side of the chart?
Become aware that the emotion on the left side is running the show, AND that you can manage it with skillful means.
That means to accept the presence of the shadow emotion and allow it to exist in your body. Do not repress it, deny it or ignore it any longer. Allow yourself to feel it deeply and completely.
By denying ourselves the opportunity to fully feel our negative emotions, we often just put off the experience, and it still haunts us until it is fully expressed.
We seek to embrace fear, not to refuse it. Then we can change the energy and meaning that we attach to that feeling in the future !
The time you spend doing shadow work is a sacred gift to yourself and to the people in your life. Everyone you come across benefits from your sincere dedication to your personal development.
To begin poking a stick at our shadow, consider the following excerpts from Kelly-Ann Maddox, 25 Heavy Duty Shadow Work Journal Prompts :
How judged do you tend to feel on a daily basis?
What does it feel like to have your emotions belittled or downplayed?
Pinpoint something that is really frustrating/upsetting you at the moment.
If you could say one thing to the person who has hurt you the most, what would it be and why?
When was the last time you witnessed distinctly self-destructive behavior, either in yourself or in someone else?
Whereabouts do you currently feel isolated and how are you dealing with that emotion?
What do you currently envy in someone else’s life and why? What kinds of emotions come up when you imagine yourself having access to the thing you envy?
What does it feel like to be completely discouraged by someone’s words?
Why is it sometimes difficult to tell the difference between someone saying something intentionally mean and someone just saying something accidentally thoughtless?
Which emotion do you tend to deal with in unhelpful/destructive ways?
Your shadow shows up most often in your relationship with others.
Start by looking at the things you dislike in someone else. Projection is a common reaction to negative shadow. If you spot it, you have probably got it.
Unidentified negative shadow is either repressed or projected. You will have a strong urge to point it out in the people closest to you. In reality, you have one finger pointing at them and four pointing back at yourself because you are projecting your own shadow onto others instead of noticing it in yourself and working on clearing it up.
It is beyond the scope of my expertise to dig deeper into the chakras, but it is fascinating to see how they regulate our energy. A skillful use of visualization using the chakras can be a tool for clearing up emotional trauma and bringing balance.
In order to eradicate negative shadow aspects of your personality, you have to identify it first, then turn it from the subject (me) to the object (it). This means to stop saying things like: “Well, that’s just who I am” and instead examine it like you would a stone you picked up off the ground.
The shadow is revealed when viewed as an object, not a permanent part of your personality. Any object that can be observed can be understood.
Emotional pain can be more traumatic than physical pain. Emotional pain is permanent if you do not know how to recover from it.
Just when things seem to be going well, there it is again to bring you down. It can be triggered by trauma, stress, lack of sleep, or poor nutrition.
You will have to face, feel into, and resolve past wounds, and this work takes courage.
Shadow can be detected in your habitual language with those in your peer groups.
“What’s the use? I screwed up again.” “You’re so hot, I wish I had your body.” “I’m not able to do it. You do it for me.” “Go away. Leave me alone.”
These words reflect low self-worth, and, along with any sarcastic or arrogant language, indicate negative shadow.
Internal dialogue is a more likely indicator because we wear personality masks with others. Reflect upon your thoughts and inner dialogue.
Look at the attached chart.
Which tendencies of your own do you recognise ?
Shadows are created when an emotional event is too painful, and you lack the tools to understand and process the feelings associated with it.
First person identification : since it is too scary and risky, you repress it. This leads to you disowning the primary emotion.
Second person identification : you push it out of your awareness but project it onto another person. You fear or disapprove of that aspect of yourself, and project it onto others.
You move from owning it yourself (first person identification), to projecting it on others (second person identification), to banishing it to a ‘thing’ (third person identification).
You have pushed it into the shadows and cannot feel it or express it. You are stuck, the energy is stuck, and you have effectively stunted your range of emotional awareness.
Self-management of emotions requires that you examine these aspects so that you can operate more freely. This will have an amazing effect on your energy and vitality because you are literally freeing up energy that was once used in repressing the shadows.
Shadow that is identified and resolved is no longer shadow. It becomes part of your conscious awareness and you can control the emotional response. That leads to more emotional power.
The term impostor phenomenon was introduced in 1978 in the article “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention” by Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes. They defined it as an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness.
The researchers investigated the prevalence of this internal experience by interviewing a sample of 150 high-achieving women. All of the participants had been formally recognized for their professional excellence by colleagues, and had displayed academic achievement through degrees earned and standardized testing scores.
Despite the consistent evidence of external validation, these women lacked the internal acknowledgement of their accomplishments. The participants explained how their success was a result of luck, and others overestimating their intelligence and abilities.
Clance and Imes believed that this mental framework for impostor phenomenon developed from factors such as: gender stereotypes, early family dynamics, culture, and attribution style. They determined that the women who experienced impostor phenomenon showcased symptoms related to depression, anxiety, and low self-confidence.
You can see how shadow plays a part in this.
Happy New Year and welcome to 2021
I am going to keep it easy over the next few days, to allow people to take their time for the holiday, and come back without missing anything. Because this is important. Really important.
Shadow is hard to get a direct look at, and it casts a wide net of destruction in our lives. Often, you can see someone else’s shadow clearly, but your own shadow remains hidden from your view.
Shadow is found where the light of awareness is blocked. How do you catch a glimpse of your shadow if you are not aware of it ?
Shadow is neither positive nor negative in and of itself. It just is.
It is the thoughts, beliefs, and reactions we have adopted since early childhood; that story we live without question. Everyone has it; it cannot be avoided.
If we are committed to growth, then we must examine it. Eradicating negative shadow aspects of one’s personality is necessary to unlock your full potential, to find complete fulfillment.
So now is a good time to start.