I’ve devoted my life … both personally and professionally… to spiritual, psychological and creative healing.
And I’ve learned a thing or two over many long years about what it means to heal and what it TAKES to heal.
What I mean by healing is engaging in the ongoing process of reclaiming my deepest sense of wholeness. Like many of us, I have rejected huge parts of my true self in the service of being liked or loved or even just accepted. But my most genuine hearts longing has always been to be utterly real AND be valued and celebrated for ALL of who I am by my friends, family and community.
A lovely gift that comes from getting older … and hopefully a bit wiser… is that I’ve learned how to manifest that desire more often than not.
But there are still times when I find myself reverting back to simply seeking approval instead of going for all out, no holds barred TOTAL acceptance. And I do that because I fear that showing myself will lead to being ignored at best and criticized, berated … and possibly even attacked… on the worst end of the spectrum.
One of the really BIG things I have discovered through questioning this pattern is that hiding out behind my desire for approval NEVER really works. When I get responded to in a positive way because of some mask I have put on I feel pretty empty inside. And terribly sad, because what I want is to be seen for what is authentic and genuine in me. Not because I’m clever enough to figure out what will get me kudos and cookies.
And engaging in that ultimately fruitless charade has another pretty terrible unintended consequence. Which is that it causes my sense of worth to completely plummet, leaving me feeling even worse about myself and my intrinsic value as a human being.
So all in all, this approval seeking nonsense is NOT really worth the effort.
But engaging in this inner exploration got me curious as to what exactly WERE the things that I was rejecting about me? And how did THESE particular aspects get tossed into the dumpster file of my psyche?
Answering these questions led me to the psychological concept of THE SHADOW which comes from the teachings of the renegade psychologist Carl Jung.
According to him we learn early on that there are certain traits and qualities of ours that are just Not OK. Not OK with our families. Not OK with our schools or churches. Not OK in the culture at large.
And so we shove these Not OK parts of us into a metaphorical box marked with a skull and crossbones to remind us that they are dangerous and then hide them in a deep dark closet in our unconscious where we hope they will never be seen again.
Unfortunately, it never really works to try and bury that stuff because these are living breathing parts of our being that WILL not be denied and will absolutely find ways to make themselves felt and seen.
But if they need to fight their way out of that box without our awareness and loving support they are very likely going to show up in our lives in ways that are not always going to feel good to us. And to the people around us.
There are ways to compassionately WELCOME these rejected parts back into our lives and in doing so benefit from the many gifts they have to offer. And I will be exploring some of those tried and true methods here on the blog over the next couple of weeks.
My dear friend Andrea Schroeder and I are going to be offering a one day online workshop on December 4th called Gifts Of The Shadow. Wild Creative Momentum.
During this class we help you to begin to heal your relationship to your shadow self and free yourself to become even MORE creative.
So stay tuned… and check out the link to the upcoming workshop below.