What You Need to Know about Living Whole but are Too Afraid to Do.
For most of us the road to finding, claiming and living our One True Life is a journey that will take a life time.
Often the journey begins by running up and down the aisles of the self-help section of the book store. We then begin to branch out and our search for enlightenment widens.
Perhaps you too have firsthand experience with attending breathing classes, focus seminars, healing services, confession, Buddhist retreats, Sufi retreats, Shaman retreats, mindfulness lectures, psychotherapy, Certification programs and reading a minimum of 137 very well written and informative self-improvement books. You’ve even meditated yourself into semi-regular states of catatonic trance. All of these methods are incredibly helpful and rewarding.
But what if you still feel incomplete? What if you wake up one morning and look in the mirror and think, “Wait, something is not right here! I still don’t really like myself very much.”
In this case, you may benefit from looking at something just a bit darker. And by darker I am referring to your Shadow and its myriad aspects.
According to the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, we choose to avoid acknowledging our Shadow because we have been programmed to think that our shadow is merely a holding pattern for our deficiencies. Let’s face it, who in their right mind would want to open that can of worms, right? The answer is wrong.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes,”
~ Carl Gustav Jung
We have been conditioned to think we must at all costs bury any hint of our humanness that might be conceived by society as unattractive and undesirable. This means disavowing any aspects of our self that make us the humans that we actually are, human in our imperfection. Why be human when you can put on a mask and pretend to the world that you are God, free from all vulnerability, fault or fear.
Human emotions and behaviors such as feeling lazy, fearful, greedy, angry, selfish, controlling, hostile, undeserving, cheap, judgmental, and critical are unacceptable aspects that embarrass us. We don’t want to show the world or ourselves these aspects. When we come face-to-face with these traits we want to run, hide, and put on the mask. Just look happy for God’s sake!
But by doing this we reject our whole self because these human aspects are alive and well within every one of us. We deny them, we hide them, and we stuff them away. They feel ugly and we are mortified at even thinking about them. We are embarrassed by being human. Unfortunately this embarrassment results in accepting only half of ourselves. Accepting only half of yourself is missing the mark by a long shot.
There is one overriding reason we do this and that is our fear of rejection. If we admit we are human and openly and brazenly allow our unsightly deficiencies to be discovered we will be unworthy, undesirable and definitely unlovable. And we can’t risk that. Even if it means walking around in a comatose state with anti-depressant dependency and a binge drinking problem, we’ll do it.
We must be perfect and if we are not perfect we will die trying, literally. Attempting to be perfect will kill us in every way, including physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Perfection causes depression, addiction, insomnia, and disease.
Critical to living whole is to understand that perfectionism is a sick illusion and stifles your ability to be generous, non-judgmental and complete. Instead you become resentful, or you display passive-aggressive tendencies, or you become an angry, bitchy martyr.
What would happen if you embraced your other side? You know, the one that isn’t perfect?
What might happen if you acknowledged, “Hey, sometimes (a lot of the times) I can be a real bitch? Is it true this is always a bad thing? Is it true that human aspects such as being angry, loud, brash, fierce, pushy, straightforward, manipulative, mean, vain, bold, greedy and selfish are always bad traits? Or are they with you for a reason?
In fact, try asking yourself, “When is it really awesome that I have this trait to rely on?” That is when you will begin to get to the reward this shadow gift holds for you.
You cannot fully express or even know your honorable traits if you cannot know your less than honorable traits. How can you be honest in your kindness if you cannot acknowledge that you also feel angry, maybe even often? You cannot fully express your generosity without accepting that you are also selfish. How can you say you are completely honest if you will not admit that you are also dishonest? There is no courage if you never feel fear.
This is being whole. This is being human. Embracing the shadow part of you along with the shiny light side of you is being the whole human.
When the Shadow is embraced it can be healed, when it is healed it can rest, choosing not to rear up unexpectedly at awkward moments. Instead it can bear gifts, the fruit of acceptance and release. When the Shadow is healed it becomes love and you become whole.
Author: Sarah Saint-Laurent
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Deviant Art