“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the SHADOW of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires”
OUR SHADOW SELF is the part of ourselves that lives in our darkness or subconscious mind. Our conscious mind has a light switch that turns on the moment we open our eyes. Our subconscious mind is something we can only explore with candlelight, patience, courage and time. Our SHADOW SELF or our subconscious thoughts that spend most of their time residing in the dark, nonetheless, OUR SHADOW SELF is an important part of who we are.
Some of us need help and support in trekking the internal terrain where our SHADOW SELF lives. We require a reliable candleholder to accompany us as we explore our subconscious dark and dangerously beautiful secrets and treasures. Especially if we are likely to get startled by any discoveries about our darker selves that we find confronting. The deeper we go, the more secrets and treasure we will find. A bit like deep-sea diving. The deeper the descent, the less casual you can be with the support tank you take with you. People die going deep in the ocean if alone and unsupported with the proper safety equipment. The same goes for some of us as we trek to discover and make peace with our darkness, our SHADOW selves.
Nelson Mandela’s quote above beautifully warns and reminds us that … “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the SHADOW of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires”
What does he mean? I know only too well having survived some deep, dangerous, dark places within my own SHADOW self what he is referring to.
I translate Nelson’s words to mean the surrender of our ego. Some of us have had to self-abandon and dishonor who we really are at a heart level, then survive and hide behind the fragile amour of our ego. I did this for the first 33 years of my life, and thank God for my ego allowing me to seek shelter behind it. It kept me alive during those times where I did not have support to heal my heart’s wounds.
However, surrendering my ego at times still feels very real, emotionally life threatening and extremely confronting. Mainly because who I really am as a fearless and at times fragile female at an internal heart level was contradictory and almost completely opposite to whom I had become at an external ego level aged 33. My ego can be actually fearful and impenetrable. My heart fearlessly yearning to open up and surrender to an authentic gesture of love.
It has taken me many years to negotiate with my ego and to simultaneously learn to befriend my SHADOW heart SELF. The parts of me I kept in the dark, hidden from public view. Outing ourselves can create conflict if those around us are invested more in our ego selves than wanting to know our authentic SHADOW SELVES.
It is only when we are loved for all of who we are that we ever can feel safe in our relationships.
I recall asking my therapist, who was my professional candleholder as we trekked into the deep dark caves in my heart I had long left.
“How long is this going to take?”
“It is a lifetime ritual”, he responded. We are never done with facing our fears and our SHADOW SELF.
It became necessary for my sobriety and sanity to explore these dark, lonely and scary caves I hid in as a child amid the horror of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I had put big rocks in front of those caves once my ego was robust enough to hide behind, trying to pretend they never existed. Unfortunately, like many others do, I had also left some heartfelt childhood treasures hidden safely in those caves that I needed to retrieve. Treasures like trust, safety, innocence and my sacred femininity.
To safely go deep, emotionally deep, into our subconscious some of us need an emotional travelling guide. A professional that knows how to go deep, stay safe, get in and get both of us out safely all within a 60-minute session. Sometimes it could not be done. I had to be hospitalised on some of our deeper treks as emotional exhaustion and overwhelm could render me immobilised. I required a few days to recover my emotional strength fully.
I thoroughly recommend if you have past trauma or areas of your heart currently in “lock down” that you also take a companion with you as you retrieve the treasures hidden in the dark guarded by our SHADOW SELVES. It took me two hands to remove the psychological rocks I had placed years ago to block access to my truth. So my therapist stood at my side with two candles, mine and his, to better help me find enlightenment and discover my childhood treasures like hidden Easter Eggs.
Carl Jung also reminds us of the importance to become willing to embrace our SHADOW SELF that our ego too often advises us against. Jung advises that the first half of our lives needs to be devoted to creating a healthy ego. The second half of life he teaches is all about going inward and dismantling, surrendering and educating the ego. We do need an external shell, like a tortoise does, to protect us from the rough and tumble of this external world, especially when we are young and naïve. Our ego is like putting floating devices on children learning to swim, it offers some extra support until we gain full muscle memory and learn how to swim for ourselves.
Our ego, Jung explains, is designed in the first half of our lives to support us until we gain emotional muscle memory. Emotional Fitness one might even say. Once we hit around midlife our ego then needs to work with not against our hearts deepest desires. We can do this willingly or reluctantly, it is our choice. Those who are Emotionally Unfit do it reluctantly.
What is that saying?
“Midlife is either a crises or a celebration”
We will face an inevitable ego crisis during our adult life, if we have not built any emotional muscle. Many go on an ego binge taking younger lovers chasing lost youth at midlife, and some of us grow up and do the work.
This message offers you an opportunity to review how you feel about the words OUR SHADOW SELF with one last snippet of Jungian wisdom …
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”
Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
© Copyright 2016 Cynthia J. Morton Emotional Fitness™
This Word Vitamin is an excerpt from my latest bookset “The Four Seasons of the Heart”. If you would like to order your own full set of Daily Word Vitamins one for each day of the year, in book form for yourself or as a gift just click on the SHOP tab and place your order.