This week’s theme is about fear and the shadows that we all have. The shadow is the part of ourselves that we do not see. We all have a shadow figure, many shadow figures actually. Our shadows do want to be noticed. These shadows show up in funny ways. If you’ve had any nightmares lately, then the shadow figure is the one you are most likely running from. At home or at work, the shadow figure is the person that gets under your skin. There are dark shadows. The dark shadows are the seemingly ugly parts of ourselves. Fear is a good reason that we avoid these shadows. Perhaps fear of imperfection or fear of change. Even though we don’t always notice that part of ourselves, the people around us easily pick up on our shadows. Our friends and family certainly notice those challenging characteristics that we hide from ourselves. Even strangers can pick up on the darkness we sometimes carry around.
Often others will point out these dark shadows by saying things that we might find offensive. A former boss once said to me: “Mary, you are much more interested in being right, than you are in being effective”. I was really angry with that confrontation. I thought, “How dare she say that to me?” It took me awhile, but at some point I saw the truth in her statement, and eventually I was even able to appreciate it.
There are also bright shadows. The bright shadows are gifts that lie buried deep in our souls. Have you ever been jealous of someone who is talented or successful? Is it possible that you are hiding a part of yourself that you can clearly see in the other person? This is our bright shadow at work. The intention is not to create anger or jealousy, but for us to pay attention to the message that the other person is bringing to us. These bright shadows are the most beautiful parts of ourselves that go unclaimed. It’s kind of strange that we wouldn’t claim these parts of ourselves, but fear can be a big part why these shadows remain hidden too.
These shadows want your attention. Will you run or will you allow those parts of yourselves a chance to come out and play? When you are willing to embrace all parts of yourself, you may be surprised at how full your life can be.
Today’s Mindfulness Practice: Below is a famous quote by Nelson Mandela from his inaugral speech in 1994. It speaks to the bright shadow within us. Read the words below, and listen to what its message might be saying to you today.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Post contributed by Mary How. Mary is the owner of Angelfish Creations, LLC and editor of the Flying Fish Blog.