If you read last week's post, you know I was at a workshop for the weekend and got there under some pretty cool circumstances. Overall, I'd give it a thumbs up. I'm picky because I'm not much into going to workshops anymore, but I experienced shifts and when that happens it was worth it.
That said, of course the one thing we did that I sorta felt like everyone was talking about afterwards, unlike anything else we experienced, was an exercise in shadow work. If you don't know me that well, you probably don't know that shadow work is my warm fuzzy place.
Why you leave your best stuff on the table
It's rather easy to explain, as human beings we have access to every human quality and characteristic. As we grow up, we learn that not all of them are "accepted or liked" by our caregivers, loved ones, and teachers. When we judge a part of ourselves, or take in the judgment of another, we hide these qualities and characteristics in our shadow, and hold onto all the "good" ones in an attempts to appear more likable.
Problem is once our qualities are in the shadow, presumably hidden, they have control over us instead of us having access to them when we need them. So you'll freak out, act out of character, make a fool of yourself, self-sabotage, and the list goes on. But if you do your work and own your shadow, well, then, the world is your oyster.
This is not for the faint of heart
The catch is doing the work is not easy. It pushes you to your edges, makes you feel vulnerable, requires your courage, and deepens your capacity to sit in your actual emotions, ones that you have been denying for decades. Fun, right?!?
Honestly, it all depends on who you ask. For me, yes. I do this work all the time and I love it. It's like a great mind-bender puzzle, and I love puzzles.
For a room of almost 200 women, it was still fun. That's probably my biased opinion, but I know they will never think the same of themselves after going through that exercise. The shadow isn't all dark and gloom, we weren't working with bitchy, ugly, stubborn and arrogant.
In my little trio working together, our words were successful, visionary and brilliant. And we wept like babies, sometimes not even being able to utter these words out of our own mouths. We squirmed and we resisted, but in the end we shined and felt glorious for having shown up, done the work and owned back our qualities.
Had we not shown up, we would have left all that power on the table. And power, when you're trying to make dreams come true, is a commodity not a luxury. So I ask you, what are you leaving on the table?
Here's How You Find Out
It's an easy exercise, it's what we did this weekend and you can read more about it in the book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.
- Write down the names of 3 famous people that you really admire and look up to.
- Beside each name write down 3 "positive" qualities that each of them possess, these are the things that draw you into them and that you kinda secretly wish you were. (You may notice themes in your words, ones you can group together.)
- Find your word. It's the one that you have resistance around admitting or acknowledging you are. Find the one where your cringe, or think, "nah," or
- Do The Work. Get yourself in front of a mirror and start repeating to yourself into the mirror, "I am ＿＿＿＿," over and over again. You may be there for 20 minutes or an hour, but you are there, or coming back day after day, until you can say it without giggling, looking away, crying, or feeling any resistance in your body to that word or quality.
How do I know I'm doing it right?
Here's what it looked like for me, I had a word that I thought I had a handle on, brilliant. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, remember we are everything so just as I am bright, intense and luminous, I am also dark, dull and stupid, and so are you.
There I am working on brilliant and I was saying it over and over to one of my partners (in groups you work on saying it into the eyes of another, home alone you work in your mirror) and I thought alright I've got this, so I switched partners. This other woman was a dead ringer for one of my elementary school teachers and it was all of a sudden so much harder to say those three words to her. I broke. I cried and cried, pushing through each repetition of, "I am brilliant," until I could say it with owning my brilliance and not shedding any more tears, unless they were tears of joy of course.
This exercise doesn't seem like much, the motions of it are quite simple. But when done correctly you're accessing the emotion, pain, and resistance that you carry around these qualities and that stuff is often immense. Picture an iceberg, what we show the world and what we think we can handle is always just at the surface, what's below is hidden and scary, but oh so glorious.
And that is what you are leaving on the table when you don't access ALL of who you truly are. When you're only operating from those qualities that you "perceive" are good and will get you love and acceptance in the eyes of others, you're cutting yourself off. Not to mention wasting entirely too much precious energy trying to hide all those qualities you think are "bad".
Do The Work
If you feel called and you like pushing your limits, finding your edge and tapping a new source of energy then you can take the action step above and/or schedule a session so you can be witnessed doing the work, that raises the bar and makes it all that more powerful.
If you're local register here for this event I'm holding, called Exploring The Shadow. You'll learn how to see things anew, find untapped sources of energy, enhance your relationships, and transform your relationship to fear. This work changed my life and I love being able to bring it to you, I can't wait to hear what opens up for you after you do this week's action step.
Lots of love,