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Grab hold of your shadow – and grow into yourself

Shadow

In the last couple of weeks, there’s a recurring topic in the sessions I have with my clients. Is it them? Is it me? I’m not sure. But let’s say for argument’s sake that the subject is ‘out there’, and it’s finding it’s way into my coaching sessions.
 

Entering: the Shadow

 
My clients are all passionate professionals who want to improve their personal effectiveness. They take control over that process by asking me to support them in that journey. At one point or another, we come to talk about the things that they feel are holding them back and make them less effective.
 
The things that come up almost always have to do with fears, doubts and feelings like anger, insecurity and resentment. All of these are part of what is often referred to as … {think scary music here} … ‘The Shadow’.
 

Our dualistic selves

 
We are all dualistic in nature. One part of us is the personality we openly display. Another part, the Shadow, is the part we hide.The shadow is made up of the thoughts, emotions and impulses that we find too embarrassing, painful or distasteful to accept.
 
Instead of dealing with these, we store them away. And we’re so good at that, that we don’t only hide this stuff from others, but also – for a large part – from ourselves.
 

Beach balls

 
Every time I’m discussing the shadow side with my clients, I can’t help but think about beach balls.
 
Playing at the beach, children often try to push their beach ball below the water. You see them struggling with that inconvenient, large, shiny thing.  It’s actually quite funny, because really, keeping those balls below the water is just not possible. However hard you push, whichever method you use: it simply cannot be done. The ball keeps popping up at unexpected places and at inconvenient moments.
 
Alternatively though, if they just let it out and play with it on the beach, beach balls are fun, colorful and do exactly what they’re made for.
 
I believe beach balls form a great analogy to the shadow.
 

The analogy between a beach ball and our shadow sides

 
Just like those playing kids, we try to push the less convenient elements of our personality away. And instead of staying out of side, these unwanted elements pop up at unexpected moments and in an uncontrollable way, just like beach balls.
 
And that is a darn shame. Because when we have the guts to openly and honestly look at the things that lurk in our shadow and acknowledge our shadow whenever it brings negativity into our lives, we can start to accept who we really are.
 
Instead of denying part of us, we can begin to understand the ‘darker’ parts of our personality and see that these are really what make us human. This is important, because understanding and accepting ourselves is an invaluable step towards becoming Whole.
 
And wholeness is really what we’re after. Just like those beach balls, when we let our shadow side out and play with it on the beach, it’s fun, colorful and we get the chance to do exactly what we’re made for.
 

Becoming whole

 
Right. That all being said, what to do now?
 
This ‘Go out and accept yourself’-thing might be easier said then done.
 
I know. I struggle with accepting myself all the time. I’m often unhappy about my darker sides popping up when I don’t expect them. I’m still trying to push that beach ball below the water.
 
But I’m getting better at it, and one of the best things that happened to me lately is a challenge I set myself: the 30 Day Self Love Challenge.
 
I’m in the middle of the 30 days, and I already see how it’s working for me. The challenge is to focus on self compassion and acceptance for a month. Every day, I do a meditation practice focused on these themes. I also do something solely for myself every day.
 
I find that, because I focus on self love so much, I’m much kinder to myself. Also, the physical and emotional constipation I was dealing with lately, completely vanished. And honestly, that’s worth so much more to me then the time it takes me to practice a little self love.
 

The 30 Day Self Love Challenge

 
I’m actually so happy with my self love program, that I’ve decided to create a 30 Day Self Love Challenge for you guys too. In about a week you’ll be able to take the challenge here – for free.
 

In the mean time, I would love to hear about your experiences with your shadow side. Let your voice be heard & leave a comment below.

 
Also, if your interested in the shadow, you might consider reading The Shadow Effect, by Deepak Choprah, Debbie Ford & Marianne Williamson. You can pick it up here (affiliate link):
 

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