facing and forgiving our shadow

Within the dualistic realm of experience, we subconsciously label everything we encounter as either “me” or “not-me”, and thereby simultaneously construct our own identity and opposition – our ego and its complementary shadow.

There is great healing potential within the shadow, especially for those things we find ourselves most resistant to. Can we bring these shadow aspects to the light, own them as a part of our self, and find forgiveness? This is one path to approaching unity.

Here is a challenge to you:

1. Right now, find something you are resisting identification with. [For myself, I am currently experiencing feelings of contempt for people who aspire for monetary gain ahead of earth and human welfare.]

2. Summon some compassion for that thing, person, or phenomenon – understand its motivations and reason for being.
[Continuing with my example: I understand that many people feel a sense of scarcity that creates a lot of fear for one’s personal wellbeing, and that in a state of fear it is very difficult to expand one’s field of care to encompass others or the earth, and that their primary need is to feel secure, oftentimes through a fixation on monetary gain.]

3. Search within yourself for a place in which that thing, person, or phenomenon exists – it may be difficult to face, as it is probably something you are not proud of or do not want to see in yourself.
[I turn toward all the times that I make decisions in favor of monetary goals or personal convenience at the expense of the planet. To give just a single pertinent example:  I often drive my car when I could ride my bike or take public transportation, because I have a perceived scarcity of time.]

4. Take responsibility – understand that the external manifestations of this phenomenon are the very same pattern that you are experiencing in your internal space (not saying anything about causality).
[I recognize that when I make selfish decisions I am acting in the exact same way as those “others” whom I feel contempt for. In fact, the contempt I feel for others mirrors the contempt I feel for myself when I make selfish decisions.]

5. Find forgiveness for yourself and the “other”. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that you agree with or condone whatever you are forgiving. It merely means that you acknowledge that it exists as it exists right now, and you find peace with it, releasing it from your judgment, negative attachment, and opposition.
[I accept that there is a part of me that acts selfishly out of a fear of scarcity, and I forgive myself for this. Although I acknowledge that I act selfishly sometimes and am not proud of it, I release the contempt I hold for that part of myself, as the contempt itself perpetuates pain and prevents me from fully owning the consequences of my actions.]

6. Repeat as often as possible when you find yourself in a state of opposition or suffering.
[When I forgive myself and others it enables me to actually connect my current self to the parts of myself and of others that feel fear of scarcity. By offering connection rather than opposition, I no longer reinforce a sense of fear and separation that caused the behavior in the first place. Whew, well I feel better at least.]

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

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