We are made up of both infinite brilliance and shadow, both light and dark, and yet, it often appears that we avoid both. Instead of truly taking up our power and instead of really looking into our shadowy parts we live somewhere in-between in idealism and avoidance. What is it that we are wanting to avoid? Is it pain? But don’t we feel pain anyway in our uptightness – in the way we constantly try to secure ourselves?
When we really start to embrace our shadow, it means we can look at ourselves and say things like, “I strive for perfection and this blinds me to what is in front of me”, or “I am afraid of rejection” or “I am so self-centred that I don’t know how to truly love you”. By embracing the shadow we see our deception and we connect with ourselves. The shadow is like a doorway to love, but we aren’t taught this and so instead we continue to avoid what we don’t like in ourselves. What we avoid then gets projected onto others.
Our quest is not to deny the shadow and strive for the light. The quest is to turn and face the shadow, own it, see it, hold it within ourselves and tell ourselves the truth about what we see. When we do this a stripping away starts to happen, where defences can be laid down and pretences weaken. As our capacity to hold our own shadow grows so does our capacity for love and joy.
We are constantly giving and reacting to each other’s feedback. When we give our feedback it is useful to look at our motive for giving it. Do we want the other to see something about themselves that is impacting negatively on us? Instead of having the courage to speak about what it brings up for us and connect with our own vulnerability around it, we make the other wrong. We bring our judgements about how people “should” behave and lay it on them. We also make assumptions about them without checking if they are true. When we do this we don’t really see the other; we aren’t really relating to them. Instead, they become an obstacle to our happiness.
There is an art to speaking our truth about what impacts us. As soon as we say “You” we blame the other and invite conflict. When we stick to “I” When we stick to “I” we are encouraged to engage with our inner world and our feelings. For example, “You don’t make me feel loved” is very different to “I have a deep insecurity in me that I’m not worthy of love.” Or “You are disconnected from me and wrapped up in yourself” is different to “I don’t know how to connect with you”. When we speak from “I” and take responsibility for how we feel, it deepens our relating and opens up the space for deep and intimate conversation.
There is a double-edge to speaking our truth which is valuable for both people in a relationship. When we share our internal world we reveal to ourselves the work that we need to do. At the same time we often highlight a behaviour in the other that needs work. The key is to invite the other to explore rather than to impose ourselves on them. Then we leave them free to do their work, while we focus on doing ours.