Mind Power Issue #106
Shadows to Light:
Breaking the Power of Your Dark Side
Issue #106 – Monday, March 26, 2018
What’s eating at you these days?
Are you impatient, annoyed, restless, angry? Do you feel as though you’re surrounded by elements of “The Dark Side”...
...including traffic jams, mediocre ideas, lackluster entertainment, big mistakes, bad food, intolerance, and–as the great Tennessee Williams put it–mendacity (untruthfulness)?
Here’s the bad news–and the good news–about that:
You’re looking in a mirror all the time. That which ruffles you about others, is also in you.
British novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray, put it this way:
“The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.”
This “truth” about the human condition may not be what you want to hear right now. Or you may think it’s just flat-out not true at all.
But wait. There’s good news:
By owning these “reflections,” which I call your shadow parts, you liberate yourself from them. You become conscious of how they drive you, and how they “cast shadows” on your life.
Knowing this, you can learn to make better choices in your thoughts, feelings and actions.
And more good news: That which you admire in others, is also in you.
Even more good news: Bringing your shadows into the light, owning them, understanding them and…
...becoming aware of their influence on you, will help you live a happier, emotionally peaceful, and successful life.
If this sounds good to you, keep reading! I explain how th
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Shadows & Light:
How to Own Your Dark Side...and Be Free of It
By Bill Harris
In working with hundreds of thousands of people over several decades, I’ve found that nearly all human unhappiness is connected to one thing:
Shadows, in this context, are disowned or repressed human qualities. If a certain area of your life isn’t working…
…you can be sure that there is a shadow part involved.
Becoming aware of your particular “shadows,” and how and why they cause you to think, feel and act……
…is a major key to living a happier, emotionally peaceful, and successful life.
We all repress or disown normal human qualities that we think are wrong or inappropriate. Many of the difficulties we have in life are the result of these disowned parts…
...which many psychologists refer to as shadows.
When repressed, these shadow parts come out in immature and dysfunctional ways. By repressing them, we actually end up creating, attracting, or expressing more of them.
In every society, there is a social agreement about which aspects of us are “wrong” or “bad.”
There is, of course, variation from family to family. What one family sees as “wrong” might be okay in another family.
Excellence might be a positive quality in one family, while in another the child who excels might be told, “Who do you think you are? Do you think you’re better than other people?”
Whatever our family’s values…
...we received negative reinforcement when we exhibited certain qualities and positive reinforcement when we exhibited others.
We learn that it isn’t safe to express what our family or our culture consider to be negative qualities. To keep ourselves from expressing them, we disowned them, which means that we pushed them…
...into the basement of our consciousness, out of our awareness.
We don’t ever really get rid of these repressed shadow parts. They leak out anyway, appearing in our life in covert and dysfunctional ways.
Let’s say, that for you, anger is a bad thing. Because it’s bad, you resist it in others, and you resist it in yourself. However, like a balloon, which when squeezed in one place pops out in another…
...the anger expresses itself, in one way or another.
Perhaps you’ve made anger wrong or bad because your father’s anger was painful for you when you were small. It also wasn’t safe to show your own anger toward him. He was bigger and stronger and he didn’t like it when you disagreed with him. So…
...you repressed your anger.
You also decided to avoid angry people. After all, you don’t like them. And they scare you.
Ironically, when you disown anger in this way it becomes a central feature of your life.
You see angry people everywhere. And, when you encounter an angry person, you’re strongly (and negatively) affected by him or her.
Angry people really bother you, even if you aren’t the one they’re angry with. You’re afraid of them and you’re angry about them.
A person with no anger-related trauma, however, and who therefore has not disowned his or her anger, sees the same angry people—after all, they aren’t invisible…
...but isn’t triggered by them in the same way you are.
For you, though, life seems to be a constant stream of angry people. How do all these angry people find you? By disowning your own anger, your attention is drawn to the angry people…
...and you’re less likely to notice or be attracted to people who aren’t angry. Because your father’s anger traumatized you…
...you’re on the lookout for it, so you can avoid it.
As I’ve said many times, focusing on what you don’t want actually causes you to create or attract more of it. So, even though it’s the last thing you want, you attract angry people. And, when you encounter them…
…you’re powerfully affected by their anger.
Everyone can plainly see that you have a lot of anger—everyone but you. You, however, don’t acknowledge—or even realize—that you’re angry.
You’ve disowned it. It’s a shadow.
For you, it’s out there, in others. You don’t see it in yourself. You’re against anger, because it’s such a bad thing.
Ironically, even though you’re against anger, you often express your disowned anger to others in covert and dysfunctional ways.
See if any of these behavior patterns apply to you:
You fail to do what you say you’ll do (because you really didn’t want to do it)
You’re late for things you really didn’t want to do
You make cutting jokes about others
You become sullen or stubborn
You’re conveniently forgetful
You avoid responsibility
You make excuses
You complain a lot
You blame others
You use sarcasm...
...and so on. In one way or another, your disowned anger is expressed.
In other words, you’re passive-aggressive. You express your anger, but not directly. You can’t express it directly because you’ve disowned it. It’s still there, though. And, in addition to being unpleasant for others, you suffer, too.
Your own disowned anger eats at you.
Of course, anger isn’t the only thing you could disown and repress. I’ve just been using anger as a common example.
You could also disown fear, or selfishness, or thousands of other qualities. You’ll likely disown anything your parents or other authority figures didn’t want you to express:
Wanting, happiness, sexuality, joy, sadness, aggression, pride, intelligence, the urge to be noticed, neediness, being good at things, feeling like a victim…
...or thousands of other human feelings and urges.
A positive quality can also be a shadow. When you see a negative quality you’ve disowned, it triggers you in a negative way. When you see a positive quality you’ve disowned—for instance, charisma, kindness, leadership, talent, or intelligence…
...you’ll put the person who exhibits it on a pedestal.
You’ll adore or admire that quality in others, but you won’t see it in yourself. You’ve disowned it.
In fact, it’s a general rule that all qualities—disowned or not—exist in all people. And all of them, no matter how positive or negative they seem, are normal human characteristics.
When you’re unaware of a shadow, you don’t have choice about your emotional reaction to it—you just react. And, you have no choice about how you express that reaction. And, you’ll also attract, unconsciously…
...a constant stream of people who exhibit the shadow aspect you’ve disowned.
When you become aware of a shadow and re-own it, you have choice over it.
You move from unconsciously being it to consciously having it.
When you re-own a shadow, what seemed to be a negative quality matures into something positive. Immature, reactive anger, for instance…
...might turn into a mature and reasoned unwillingness to tolerate injustice. Narcissistic selfishness matures into mature self-love.
Every shadow has a mature form, and re-owning a shadow allows you to express that quality in a mature and positive way.
Awareness is the key to this transformation. To become more aware of how you’re creating your experience of life is to…
...watch your mind and observe how it works.
Since the internal representations we make lead directly to our feelings, our behaviors, and which people or situations we attract or become attracted to, becoming aware of how we do that gives us choice.
It allows us to stop creating our experience of life automatically, based on the past and, instead, to…...create our life by choice, in the moment.
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