From the beginning of our lives, we develop a certain sense of ‘self’ – a persona or identity we present to the world. Based upon the influences, conditioning, and often trauma we experienced as we grew up, we develop our ideas about what’s right or wrong, safe or dangerous, acceptable or not. We learn ways of being and beliefs about ourselves and the world that become unconsciously ingrained in our being and how we go on to live out our lives. We may learn to ‘be good’ to get love, that we shouldn’t express ourselves, it’s not safe to love, or that it’s not ok to be who we really are.
We pack all of this into our unconscious, and lose sight of whether these beliefs and the identity we develop around them really work for us as we move through life.
These beliefs and our attachment to this identity get compounded as certain aspects of our personalities get negative responses through life. We get burned, ridiculed, hurt, told were not good enough, told how to behave, and even punished, re-enforcing our belief that there are aspects of our being we should keep hidden from the world. So we sit on our anger, we hide our sexuality, we deny our sensitivity, we tell ourselves we are really not nice people if we have any kind of ‘negative’ or ‘unacceptable’ thought. We push these parts of us away from awareness into the unconscious where they form the shadow, the dark side our personality.
What happens then is, we move through life from behind the masks that we develop to protect these deep wounds, and to hide the parts of our being we believe we should deny. We develop patterns of behaviour that keep us small, limit our experience of life, our ability to be who we really are, and to live the life we really want to live.
We do anything to defend and protect this identity and hold on to all of its dysfunctional because our belief that this is who we really are, or should be, has become so ingrained that the thought of letting it go or giving up the masks and revealing all of who we are can feel so threatening it’s like facing the prospect of annihilation or even death.
Yet to expose and accept our shadow is one of the most freeing and healing things we can do for ourselves. By owning our shadow, we re-own our whole self, and take back our real authentic power to live in a beautiful state and create what we want in life.
“The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our own shadow onto others.” – Carl.Jung
It can often be challenging to admit and expose our shadow side, to overcome those beliefs and barriers that keep us small, make us wrong, tell us it’s not safe.
But the cost if we don’t at best is that it comes out as dysfunction in our lives – exclusion, loneliness, shame, and at worst we project it out onto others as blame, judgement, anger and violence (even if that is only in our thoughts).
According to Jung, the degree to which we judge or condemn, is the degree to which we are unconscious of the same thing in ourselves.
“Everything that irritates us about others, can lead us to understanding ourselves.” – Carl Jung
So rather than living from a false sense of self, a false sense of power, we can take back our authentic power by taking personal responsibility to change the patterns of behaviour that get displayed as a result of not owning our shadow.
By taking personal responsibility to bring these elements of our shadow into the light of consciousness, we take back the enormous power they have over us.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung
Instead of our lives being run from behind our mask of identities and defences based on old conditioning, we can free up all the energy that it takes us to supress and deny ourselves, and through acceptance of what is, we find clarity in the present moment.
When we look within and enquire what aspects of our selves we are denying, with awareness we can begin to create a different story and make different choices from a place of real authentic power and connection to what is true in the moment, rather than our actions being informed by hidden thoughts and beliefs.
Integration of our shadow and ownership of all parts of ourselves also means we begin to know who we truly are. We find our own personal integrity, what we truly want, what our are boundaries for what we will accept from others and life. From this place of connection to ourselves, we can express clearly and authentically what we want and need, and we suddenly give life and people the opportunity to respond with much more ease to that clarity and connection.
So, when we own our shadow, we may at first feel exposed and shameful, but what actually happens eventually is that we:
- Stop playing out the dysfunctional behaviours that keep us from having what we want in life
- Stop judging blaming and criticising others
- Start feeling more empowered to take ownership of our thoughts feelings and actions
- Start making better clearer decision that support us, and support a better society
- Start to get clearer in who we are and what we want, and life responds
- Feel more complete, whole, and accepting of ourselves and others
At our next one-day workshop, we will explore and expose the shadow side of our ‘self’s, so that we may own it rather than have it haunt us and hold us back we can embrace and accept the wholeness of our being.
- Are you ready to un-peal the layers of your beliefs and defences?
- Are your willing to expose your shadow side?
- Are you willing to let go of your mask of ‘identity’, of being ‘a good boy’ or ‘little miss perfect’?
- Are you willing to stay in that place without running from it or making it wrong?
- Are you willing to trust that you will not dissolve, and allow the freedom and possibilities available to you when you let all of this go?
If your answer is yes, or you would even just like to begin to explore this side of yourself, come along to our next one-day workshop:
Date: Saturday 20th October
Time: Arrive 9.30am for 10.00 start. Finish 17.30
Venue: Eveline Day School, Swan House, 207 Balham High Rd, London SW17 7BQ,
Spaces are limited so please book now to avoid disappointment
Refreshments will be available.
Lunch is not included, but a delicious option of a healthy clean plant-based lunch will be available to pre-order from Lu-Ma (details provided upon registration).
Alternatively, there are other options are available nearby.
All are welcome, whether you have attended a previous Penninghame Process or not.
The Penninghame Team
You can listen to more on this subject here, as Jordan Peterson talks about integrating your shadow self.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” – Carl Jung