The Shadow Self: Loving Your Anger

“The shadow, said celebrated Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung,  is the unknown dark side of our personality. It is dark because it tends to predominantly consist of primitive or negative low based human emotions and impulses such as selfishness, greed, envy, anger or jealousy.” (sounds like a day at my office)

Due to the unenlightened nature of the shadow, these things are completely obscured from our consciousness.

Whatever we feel is evil, inferior or unacceptable and deny in ourselves, becomes part of the shadow; the counterpoint to what Jung called the persona or conscious ego personality.

The Freudian defense mechanism known as “projection” is how most people deny their shadow, unconsciously casting it onto others so as to avoid confronting it in oneself. Such projection of the shadow is engaged in not only by individuals but by groups, cults, religions, and other situations  in which the outsider, enemy or adversary is made a scapegoat, dehumanized, and demonized.  Sort of  what I like to call The Jewish Inquisition – the she-devil emerging from my grandmother when I would try to pass my Christian boyfriends off as nice Jewish boys. Oh how I loved to torment her.  My shadow and I were always well acquainted.

The shadow is most destructive, insidious and dangerous when habitually repressed and projected, manifesting in a myriad of psychological disturbances ranging from neurosis to psychosis, irrational interpersonal hostility, and even cataclysmic international clashes.

Wow, that sounds like Donald Trump, doesn’t it? No worries for Trump lovers though. I’m an equal opportunity hater. Trump may be psychotic but Hillary is insidious.  Hey, do you think she’s getting any? I doubt it. Maybe someone really needs to grab HER by the *****. You gotta know that Bill isn’t doing it. Crap, I promised my guides I wasn’t going to go there.   Sorry, my shadow made me do it!

(You know, originally writing this I actually used the word “pussy”. I realize it’s crude and all that but we’re all adults here.  I decided to use the ***** because I didn’t want people choking on their coffee. You’re welcome but it is what it is!)

The shadow or “shadow aspect” are those things about ourselves that we are not fully conscious of. Under this broad definition, such things may be positive or negative. However, generally the reason we are not conscious of such things is because they are the least desirable aspects of our personality.

So why open that can of worms?

To grow and learn more about ourselves.

If we don’t become intimate with our shadow it can control us and we can lose ourselves in its darkness.

From a spiritual perspective, to engage in shadow work is to encounter the shadow, confront it, understand how that bad boy operates, find its origins, accept it and assimilate into our conscious lives. This process helps to free us from destructive or self-sabotaging behaviors. It helps us come to terms with major life transitions, regain our confidence and grow.

The shadow is meant to be understood figuratively. It is not an evil inside of you or a split of your personality.  And I don’t care what my husband says – it’s not hormonal either.  There is nothing wrong with you. It is part of the human experience.

“Shadow work is a process of psychological integration by which we take greater responsibility for ourselves and our actions to achieve wholeness and balance.”

It allows us to embrace our weaknesses, find new strengths, be more compassionate and become more creative. It gives birth to an authentic spirituality.

Shadow work isn’t something you do once in a few hours or even a few days and then you’re done. It’s ongoing.  Ground yourself. Center yourself. Learn to be okay with not being finished. The nature of this work requires that it be put aside so you come back to it time and time again.

If you’ve never done this kind of work, start by asking yourself some key questions. You may not have clear answers for these questions and that’s okay. You might want to journal or meditate on them.

  • What don’t I want others to know about me? (I have vaginal dryness)
  • What do I tend to have a disproportionate reaction to? (Payless Shoes)
  • Which emotions am I uncomfortable expressing? (pretty much nothing is off limits)
  • What am I most scared to express in a relationship? (telling hubby how much my purse cost)
  • What traits in others really annoy you, wind you up or make you angry or frustrated? (people who leave the shopping cart in the parking lot at the grocery store)
  • What traits do you most admire in others? (men who put the toilet seat down)
  • Who do you look up to? Who are your idols? (not Michelle Obama)
  • What do you find yourself doing over and over “by accident”? (peeing my pants when I sneeze)
  • What is the worst insult someone can give you? (Hey look, Dana – you’re starting to get a turkey neck! – thanks mother)

All kidding aside, ask yourself these questions. Then ask yourself why. Ask yourself why a lot. Try to recall moments in your life when these feelings emerged and keep going back in time to try to find where it all began. I think you will find a lot of it is rooted in some childhood event.

When you have identified pieces of your shadow, you can do a meditation in which you meet it. Ask it its name. (Mine is banshee) Ask it questions. What is important to you? What do you want? What can I learn from you? How I can honor you? (buy me that pretty diamond necklace in the window)

Remember that this process is not about eliminating our shadow aspects. The purpose is to recognize it and accept it; establish a new awareness so it doesn’t control you any more.

Shadow work is a painful and lengthy process. There can also be a great sadness when we realize that what we thought was true about ourselves was just a defense against things we were afraid of. This will pass. When you emerge from the work, it will be as if a great burden has been lifted. You will find the rainbow and you will find yourself.

In my opinion, one of the mistakes that spiritual people make, is denial of the shadow self. Spiritual people are supposed to be all fluffy and zen like, breathing like we’re in labor and chanting “om” all day. Some people are of the opinion that “spiritual people” should be above reproach.  I call BULLSHIT! Don’t doubt my sincerity when I can’t live up to that expectation. Give me a break, I’m human and trying out this life the same way you are.

The shadow is the part of ourselves that we repress or deny, the part(s) which have gotten us into trouble or even embarrassed us in front of others. Anger is one of the most potent parts of the shadow.  We’ve learned over time to bury those facets of ourselves down deep so they never see the light again. We are taught to deny them, and we learn to be ashamed of them.

But those feelings don’t go anywhere and they are not dormant either. They stir and bubble under the surface, later showing up in the body as discomfort or pain; even disease. They fester within us energetically, and then they begin to manifest physically.  They ache to be released. But what does that mean?

Some part of you is angry and rages. That is your fire. That is the seat of your power and, that is the place where the transformation will take place. That is your alchemy, your invitation for change and renewal. Anger and rage can be tools for spiritual growth. Allow yourself to experience them in a safe way and most importantly, integrate them into something more productive in your life. If you’re angry and you know it, change your life!  Channel that fire into something productive and move on!

One of the very personal lessons that I am currently learning in life is that people who cross your path, even those closest to you, have anger and rage issues that manifests in different ways.  Try to understand that most rage really isn’t about you –  try not to take it personally. (Easier said than done, I know, believe me, I know)

Most of the displays of rage you will see from others in your life are projections onto you because you are mirroring something to them that they struggle to process. (Did you get that? 🙂 – If not, read it again because it’s important. As my grandfather would say, “let it penetrate.” 🙂 ) Love you, Poppy. Thank you for watching over me.

I think the greatest gift we can give ourselves in this life is complete and total loving acceptance of who we are. We are the good, the bad; the ugly. We are the happy and the sad, we are the kind and the unkind, the forgiving, unforgiving and the unforgiven. We are the lost and the found. We are the dark and light, both of which we cannot live without.

I urge you to take those skeletons out of the dark recesses of your mind and no longer allow them to jump out and scare you. Ask yourself, what part of myself is most unknown to me? Look at those things. Examine them. Talk to them. Dissect them and soothe them.  Work to express these things. Create. Journal. Meditate. Once you do this, they will lose the power to sneak up and surprise you. It is better to meet them on your terms.

May your rage and anger become your gift of enlightenment.

And so it is.

Love,

Dana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRPS/RSD and Spiritual Healing: Don’t Own the Dis-EASE

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CRPS/RSD is a debilitating disease. It’s a disease that afflicts me personally but I’m not going to own it.  I am not going to say that I “have” CRPS/RSD.  I acknowledge its presence but I don’t dwell on it and I refuse to be defined by it. This is where spiritual healing comes in.

Part of my intention here is to bring awareness to CRPS/RSD. Most people don’t  know what it is. Not only does the disease affect me but it also affects other members of my family. I don’t necessarily want to focus this blog on that particular disease though. Any disease could be the topic in this forum. Most of us are afflicted with something.

Aside from CRPS/RSD, I suffer (“oh how I suffer” :-)) with a constant aching pain in the tuchas (my husband). Al, I’m so glad you’re clueless when it comes to the internet. You’ll never see my posts! Tee hee!

But, as the infamous “yenta” and the bubbes always say, “even the worst husband is better than no husband, God forbid. Pu, pu pu! Right? Of course, right? 🙂

The following is directly from the RSDS.org website:

CRPS/RSD is a chronic neuro-inflammatory disorder. It is classified as a rare disorder by the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, up to 200,000 individuals experience this condition in the United States, alone, in any given year.

CRPS occurs when the nervous system and the immune system malfunction as they respond to tissue damage from trauma. The nerves misfire, sending constant pain signals to the brain. The level of pain is measured as one of the most severe on the McGill University Pain Scale. CRPS generally follows a musculoskeletal injury, a nerve injury, surgery or immobilization.

CRPS/RSD is very painful. The classic pain is a burning sensation but there are many other diverse and painful symptoms.  This disease is no joke despite some in the medical community who still offer the theory that the pain is “all in your head”. Believe me, it’s not. If I wanted to put something in my head it wouldn’t be pain. No, I’m not going to share my secret fantasies with you so don’t panic.

Many other diseases with which people are afflicted are also painful. I’m not suggesting that CRPS/RSD  is different. What I am saying is that my experience and your experience of pain will always be unique. I believe there are many reasons for this variance. It’s the way in which we “receive” these “pain”  signals. Because we are all unique individuals, our bodies, minds and spirits perceive and distribute this pain in different ways. Body, mind and spirit must work together in order for healing to take place, just as they work together to bring painful experiences to our reality.

Modern medicine is wonderful but those magical pills the doctor gives you may not help you if you don’t assist your body in its own natural healing process.  (I’m all for natural remedies but there are times when you just need to see a medical doctor so I’m not suggesting that you don’t seek treatment.)  What I can tell you for sure though, is that our thoughts are a powerful influence over how we feel. The mindful actions that we take or don’t take to heal, will strongly impact the body’s natural ability to recover from anything.

What we believe is what we attract to us. A belief is a persistent thought that we just keep thinking over and over and over and over and over and over again (you get the idea, right?) until that thought just takes control.  The thought can be good or it can be bad. It can help or it can harm. We believe what we tell ourselves, “right? Of course, right!”

(Didn’t you just love Fiddler on the Roof? I  must say I’m a bit of a yenta in my own way. Even though the word has a negative connotation, the root of it actually comes from the Italian for “kind”.  I think there are good yentas and bad yentas. A good yenta (that’s me) provides knowledge and wisdom about all things.  A bad yenta is a major pain in the tuchas and a gossip. (e. g. the receptionist where I work) For those unfamiliar with the Yiddish word “yenta” see Wikipedia – better yet , see Fiddler on the Roof!)

So, where was I? Oh  yes. If you give your power to those negative thoughts,  you will own the disease and it will own you.  You will be cellmates for life. (sort of like marriage) Rather, if you have thoughts of opposition to your condition you will allow the healing to take place. I’m not talking about a “cure”. I’m talking about a healing.  Healing is an ongoing process but it can most certainly bring about a cure. This “opposition process” will enable you to see that your thoughts can actually work to make you feel better.

There are those times when we will feel overwhelmed by the intensity of pain. This is when we must actively acknowledge and accept what is going on with our body and learn to love ourselves in spite of illness. This is a time that as we nurture our bodies with medication or other pain modalities, we have to nurture our minds and spirits with love.  We have to love ourselves through those painful episodes in order to get to the other side of them. The instant we begin to think in this way is the instant we begin the process of self-healing.

Pain can inhibit us from doing normal daily activities and from spending quality time with family and friends. We begin to feel guilty. We feel like unproductive members of society. And because we don’t have a “visible” illness like a broken leg for example, others will often perceive this illness as the “oh it’s all in your head syndrome”. Do you know how many times I’ve heard………..”well you look great, I would have no idea you were sick if you hadn’t told me. This is why it is so very important to love and heal yourself each and every moment of everyday, because YOU ARE IMPORTANT and YOU DO MATTER.

It’s even more important to remember, however that loving and accepting ourselves doesn’t mean we have to wallow in the shit. We can empower ourselves to feel better in the midst of any crisis. Even if we just make ourselves laugh for ten seconds.  It’s ten seconds you have being and feeling positive rather than being and feeling negative. Those seconds add up to minutes and minutes add up to hours and soon we understand that all life really is means living in the moment; being happy in each moment. And yes, even being at peace that we may be afflicted with an illness. Every good and bad experience we have in our lives is what makes us unique. CRPS or ANY disease is what we may be experiencing in a particular moment or even in many, many moments of our lives, but that isn’t what defines us.  Disease doesn’t define you or give you a label. Only you can define you.

The two most powerful words in the Universe are “I AM”.  God is the I AM presence. You are the I AM because God is within you.  When you attach any negative thought to the I AM you are creating your own fate because this is what you are stating that you believe about yourself. Each time you say “I am in pain”; “I am not well” then you are breaking down the wholeness of God who you really are and making yourself more susceptible to receiving these negative thoughts.(dis-EASE)  By consistently using these types of phrases, you are impeding yourself from becoming well because your entire being is reacting to your words.  The energy of your body is literally vibrating this negativity and bringing it back to you, therefore making you more sensitive to the pain. The Law of Attraction – that which is like into itself is drawn.

However, by saying, I am healed. I am well, I am happy, I am feeling great, you send out the vibration of really feeling that way. Your body, mind and spirit will respond in kind because you are “opposing” the negative thoughts. Each time that you tell yourself that you are well and whole and good and one with God, your life and health improves and it becomes more difficult for dis-EASE  to attack you. Again, the Law of Attraction.

I’m not saying this is easy. I know it isn’t.  I’m not being insensitive because I can empathize with painful experiences and I practice this type of healing myself. I like to say that I am always in a constant state of healing.  At least, that is where I strive to be by consistently examining my thoughts and by practicing mindful awareness. As humans, we must learn to live in the moment. When you think about it, that’s really all we have. (Wait, I already said that  – it must be important!)  Worrying about things we can’t change and giving our power over to a disease takes those precious moments of life away from us. Life on this physical plane will be gone soon enough. Enjoy the moments.

L’Chaim! To Life!

Love,

Dana

P.S.

For those of you wondering, I really do like my husband (most days).  It’s just fun to pick on him.  🙂

Sending healing love, prayers and blessings to each and every one of you. Thank you for being part of my experience.

Pu Pu Pu = literally spitting the words “pu pu pu” or “toi toi toi”.  Yiddish for warding off the evil eye.  Who needs protective crystals when you can spit?

For more information on RSD please check out this site:

http://rsds.org/