Have you ever heard a response to someone in pain that began with, “You just have to turn inward and love yourself”? While it certainly doesn’t transmit love and support very well, and it’s definitely not much of an actual help in that moment in a distressed person’s life, it is also deeply true. In turning inward, you will always confront the shadow; it’s the guard at the gate to your soul. You must get past that guard in order to reach the treasure within: the real authentic you.
The language of shadow has an internal process and an external process. Both require being able to “Call It Out” from what it’s protecting, to really see it for what it is. These rascally buggers reside in your mind and are shapeshifting and resistant to being seen as they are. Nevertheless, when you do, then you can identify them and use what you find in that Shadow state for yourself and others. Often you stumble upon your shadows as you race for the raft to escape your present discomfort in the emotional waters. Or maybe someone comes along and says something or behaves a certain way that ‘triggers’ our shadows into rearing their heads. That’s fine! Use it. The raft will lead you to the Awakened state of knowing and living your life with deep purposes. Just don’t forget you can’t live a life on a raft. You gotta pick your head up, find out where you are, and paddle for shore. If you don’t know what to call The Thing you are experiencing, it’s easy to get lost in it, thinking it’s happening TO YOU. It’s easy to look past a shadow, thinking that something else is important; it Can Be as simple as what’s right in front of you….
Things that are dying in our lives are often key places to look for shadows at work. It may be a project that is dying or a relationship coming to an end. Maybe it’s You. Do you suffer chronic illness, aches, and pains that just won’t be treated? Or maybe it’s emotional states that plague you, constantly leaving you feeling that you are losing out on life, or leave you feeling not present for your own reality. Sometimes it can even be good changes. Change often translates in the body as, “Something is Wrong!” Ever feel super anxious before going to do something fun or new? Or dread a change simply because it takes an adjustment period for it to all be good, and that adjustment period is Hard? Change becomes programmed in our brains over time to be hard, and thus we “brake” before All change.
Change is a form of dying. It’s the state that it’s changing Out Of, that’s dying, like the skin on a caterpillar. The caterpillar undergoes some radical changes, horrific even, when you consider complete liquefaction of All internal matter to be an aspect of that change. This liquid then slowly realigns itself into a complete different pattern, breaks open its skin, and emerges… Everyone thinks the butterfly is SOO amazing… Consider what the butterfly experiences, what it took to Experience That kind of change. That’s two deaths before it emerges or Awakens in its new forms. Take Dragonflies – they go through seven stages! From its nymph stages completely underwater, to its all new form above water, requiring completely different elements for its rebirth there. All these “deaths” are simply the Surrendering of what Was, so that What’s Coming can come through. Shadow lives in all these places where we don’t want to let go cause it’s scary and unknown. Shadow hates to surrender. It’s where memories of your past experiences taught you xyz, and because that’s what you experienced, you assume the same outcome now. In these circumstances where we can confront our greatest fear and DO IT ANYWAY, we can also use the Experience to create a map of how change affects our individual bodies, thus creating a map of your internal reality as well as your process for moving through that reality. I refer to this as Internal Cartography.
InternalCartography, in brief, is defining the edges of what Your Reality is, based on your lived experiences, and keeping track of your reactions, finding their patterns (current position), identifying where you want to be going (your trajectory) and getting right with yourself so your compass isn’t stuck. Yes, you are the compass, the Is – ness/Not -ness reality is your map and its borders, and where you’re going is Your Lane or your Alignment. (More on this topic in future articles.)
During this period of “internal work” there is often long stretches of waiting periods. The action of waiting is often perceived to be a powerless place. It’s where we often get sidetracked from our purpose and find ourselves with racing nervous anxiously monkey minds. Active, purpose filled, at the ready Waiting Energy that is poised, ready for when the timing is just right, is an absolute necessity . Those who wait patiently without loss of hope find the richest rewards.
The next step is Action. Getting off the raft. Doing something with what you’ve found during that period of Surrender. It does you no good to make a map and never use it. In this analogy of the raft, getting to the other shore is the point. The goal is service: service to the world, to community, to family, to your mission (we each have one! **Pillars Work**) Shadow is where you learn about yourself, SO THAT you can be in service to Others. Don’t forget this last bit. Creating the interface between our selves, our shadows, and our environment leads us to our Gift. Our Gift is what we are here to Do, which is a representation of the Essence of our Becoming. (Gene Key Reference)
The following is a very brief overview of the ways external language of shadow can play out in the myriad of ways that we have human interactions.
As highly complex as these human bodies may be, they do not come with instruction manuals. They do, however, come with built-in language communication systems, such as body language, facial reactions, tone of voice, and the ability to convey the meta messages hidden in the things they say or the things they specifically avoid saying. Surprise, joy, and love are not hard to spot; we’ve been trained to see them from things like commercials, Hallmark, Disney, and Valentine’s Day. But what about things like pride, fear, illusion, and deceit? What if I told you that most people can be read like a book? Even those practiced at showing nothing still show that they are hiding. Some come with a buyer beware warning label pinned to them in the form of their actions, if you take the time to see it past their innocent expressions. Now turn this inward for a moment and you can see how it is that you “buy into” what you put your energy into, and what you receive in return. Your chosen way of walking through the world CAN INDEED be similar to Doctor prescribed medication with a hundred side effects that far surpass the gain. Such as: If you participate in life in this way you may experience the following side effects: stress, loss of finances, depression, the extreme feeling of the bleakness of your life, wondering if there is even a purpose for your existence. Sound familiar? These behaviors all stem from the shadow deflecting you aware from your purpose, trying to”keep you safe”. Each person’s shadows are just trying to “keep them safe”. When we can See the same creatures in each other, that we seek to understand within ourselves, we can drop the blame and shame “medication” for the problem and get down to the real root of what is needed. Connection.
Community. Common Unity. Common Unity IS Service to a joint cause. There are so many directions in which this can flow, here is where the real creativity begins. A few ideas so you catch the drift: Community gardens, local community potluck diners and drum circles. What can you dream up and collaborate that provides a needed service to the community?Ummm