This idea of embracing your dark side has been coming up for me a lot lately. Spirituality isn’t about allowing only the good parts of you to come through. It’s about being fully and authentically yourself, including the side of you that may not always be accepted and is susceptible to judgment or criticism. It is your shadow self that holds the key to who you are at your core, the good and the bad. The vulnerable parts of you, where your inner truest passions live, what you are willing to fight for and what pushes you to keep showing up even through the toughest times.
What I’m learning is that the more you give these parts of you a voice it allows them to bubble up to the surface and gives you the opportunity for full release.
In fact, honoring what you perceive as negative is like shining a light in the darkness. If you try covering up the darkness with hurt, shame and fear it keeps you circling in an endless cycle of negativity but by embracing your shadow side you cast out the darkness with a sense of empowerment, strength and faith that something greater than you is always working in your favor. This reminds me of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
To give you a personal example, my shadow self can be demanding, bossy, feisty, a bit rebellious and hot tempered at times. I can choose to see those things as negative and be hard on myself if I revert to those behaviors. It’s especially difficult to balance seeing things in a spiritual light when certain people or circumstances may trigger you. However, I’m starting to realize those may be some of my best qualities if you actually see the motivation behind each one. Demanding actually shows ambition and confidence, bossy is taking the lead – being a leader, feisty can be playful, rebellious speaks to spontaneity and independence and being hot tempered is driven by passion. The trick is seeing the good in them and not surrendering to the dark qualities too much because that’s when they become negative and worst of all hurtful to you and others.
So you see, it’s not about dwelling in the negative or perpetuating a story of being damaged or wounded. The important thing is to tell a different story. Take the hurt and the pain and make it about your hero’s journey, showing what you have overcome and how those elements fuel you to pursue your dreams and ultimate vision for your life. If you didn’t have the darkness, how could you fully appreciate all the amazing moments that life has in store for you? That’s what makes them extra special…knowing what you have been through and seeing all that you accomplished along the way.
When I think about my life, I usually refer to my high school years as my “rebel years.”
I mean who hasn’t had a rough childhood, that’s pretty standard in some cases. And I’m not saying I even had it that bad. I know I had it better than most in many ways, which of course I am grateful for. It’s kind of like I was at the border of two towns, having one foot on each side standing in two places at once. For me it was about making a choice of either living by the standards of other people or stepping out, making my own mistakes and forming my own guidelines of what I believed to be true (at least at the time…I was only 15 after all). Having one foot on each side of that line, I had the benefit of seeing both perspectives at the same time. The good vs. bad, light vs. dark, conventional vs. going against the norm…it is all rooted in valuable qualities once you see the motivation that lies beneath.
I’m really starting to reconnect to that 15 year-old girl inside of me again. She was actually very wise, spirited and had a way of seeing things as limitless like she could do anything she put her mind to no matter what was standing in her way. That’s the energy and strength that I’m starting to appreciate more and more about my shadow self. A ‘no limit’ approach to life. Embodying a more conscious and purposeful state of awareness in everything that I do. No holding back.
Now it’s your turn…what are some qualities of your shadow side? How can you see the root or true nature of those qualities? Maybe for you it is also a learned behavior from childhood. It may help to explore by tuning into your younger self. For me, I can instantly tap in when I listen to 90’s Hip Hop/R&B. I start to feel that teenage girl inside really shining through. It always gets me pumped and so inspired. What is that for you?
Please share in comments below.
Excuse me while I put on my 90’s playlist…
Jammin’ to some Jodeci, next up A Tribe Called Quest. Sooooo good!!!