Afraid of the Dark, Afraid of Our Shadow

There are parts of ourselves we do not want to show, sometimes even see. As much as it is evident to me that we fear our light, I also see how we create shame and fear around our darkness, our shadow. Beneath the constructs of acceptable behaviors and appearances, parts of ourselves can seem to us, wrong, and unable to be understood by anyone else.

Everyone has a shadow. The first thing that helps us break through withdrawal and isolation is the recognition that everyone has some version of what we have.

A runaway shadow as described in Peter Pan can look like an intensely compartmentalized version of our shadow self. When we lose touch with parts of ourselves, what we resist persists and manifests elsewhere.

Or more likely, we run from our shadow. Try to, that is. We run and we run and we run and the whole time, that part of ourselves we fear is right there with us. This imagined conflict only perpetuates our fear and descent into unhealthy behavior.

We don’t get rid of our anger by fighting anger, we practice the presence of peace, empathy, and curiosity.

If what gets me into trouble is “being in my head,” rather than running from engaging my active brain or guilting myself out of indulging abstraction, I practice immersion in the moment. I direct my attention. I repeat my mantra.

Our shadow has much to teach us. Like a dream can reveal our deeper views and experience of life, our “shadow self” can reveal what is invisible, what is inside. The underbelly of our deeper self is there, ready to be reintegrated, accepted, loved. Like one of my favorite Switchfoot lyrics, “The shadow proves the sunshine…”

We need not be afraid of the dark. We only have room to grow, to learn; to be guided, nourished and inspired from within.