Why Y(Our) Shadow is So Persistent


What is Shadow?


There’s so much talk about trauma healing these days, I often mistakenly assume that everyone knows what I mean when I say ‘shadow.’

And in truth, what I call ‘shadow’ might not even be equated with trauma healing in the traditional sense. You know, the ‘bad’ stuff.

But if shadow is just that which we can’t see (because it’s shadowed by our lack of awareness about it,) it is generally related to a part of ourselves (e.g., a habit, pattern, or repressed tendency) for which we’re in denial.

Like most, I’ve had some pretty insidious patterns to which I was unconscious. Most people couldn’t see the patterns, but anybody that got close enough would experience these sneaky patterns and be shocked.

But I was unconscious to the shadowed patterns. Until I wasn’t.

One of my patterns was to deny my own needs in relationship until I was assured of acceptance or love. Then I would suddenly spring my deep dark desires onto the victim of my belief that I wouldn’t be loved if I made my needs known.

Recently, I dug out the deep roots of that core belief and its deeply rooted sub-beliefs using some new tools I developed.

Finally, after a few decades (or lifetimes.)

Yet the shadowed belief that I was unlovable as myself kept me from having an intimate relationship with myself, which called in people and situations that weren’t really in my best interest.

Having illuminated and then liberated those core and sub-beliefs, I’m now confident to make requests, state my needs, and show up powerfully in all kinds of relationships where I was hampered before (with greater respect for myself and the other.)

This kind of liberation from a shadowed pattern allows us to be clear of constrictions, free of the burden of fear, and more able to see life from a new perspective.

How Shadow is Formed


Yet digging through the trauma of your life is like removing a splinter. Mostly you can’t really get it out til it festers.

Most of the time, shadow is formed from extended periods of unmet needs and desires in which new coping mechanisms are formed as response to the unfulfilled core need. Fractured sub-psychic parts ‘split’ off of our whole Being as a means to help us (often as children) survive in the environment lacking essential resources.

These ‘parts’ serve to protect us, create distraction, or to cause our essential self to go into hiding. They also create new belief systems rooted in the repression of our essential self.

So both the belief systems and the fractured parts are elements of our personality with which we need to contend in order to heal.

In my scenario, the particular shadowed pattern of not stating my needs upfront stemmed from a childhood trauma pattern of narcissism (mother) and codependence (me). I so deeply craved love from my mentally unstable and abusive mother that I would hide what I really needed to gain her affection.

And so it went, unconscious and unhealed, festering over and over again in every relationship — intimate and otherwise.

So I just kept calling in narcissists who had a feeding frenzy on my codependent and accommodating nature, until finally I was able to see the pattern and resolve it.

Not only did I have to create some alternate belief systems, but also negotiate with some inner parts that wanted to control how I showed up in the world.

Thank god we’re all on the same page now.

The Shadow and Silver Lining of Trauma


The shadow is what we can’t see. And thus, we experience the pain and agony and victimization of trauma, but typically can’t see the shadow nor the gifts of it.

It also became evident, over time, that the form of my trauma also made ‘sense,’ as it does for everyone.

As we energetically stay imbedded in the victim energy of the initial trauma, we repeat the pattern until we shift the energy from being victim to realizing we are co-creator of the experience.

As we recognize how we are helping to recreate the pattern, take responsibility, and shift our belief systems (and resolve the fractured parts,) we can begin to create a new dynamic.

Only then can we ‘turn the loop’ as Tara Brach often says and forgive ourselves and the other for our unhealed tendencies.

In my story, with each repetition of the same trauma pattern of narcissism-codependency, I became more curious what the resultant outcome would be.

Each narcissistic encounter would require me to stretch beyond the pain of the (original and current) trauma to explore the repeating pattern.

Eventually, I understood that the pattern itself was leading me to an awareness of my need for self-acceptance and self-love.

This clarity not only helped me to heal the pattern, but to see the silver lining, or the benefit, of each experience. I became more loving and felt more loved.

Early in my life and career, I would never have guessed that this trauma-pattern-revelation would play such a critical role in my awakening and simultaneously lead to so much fulfillment.

And thus, I gained an awareness of and understand the critical nature, or throughline, that was the “golden thread” of my soul drawing me forward in order to expose the inherent patterns I came to earth to illuminate and thus resolve.

Shadow as Catalyst


When we illuminate the parts of us that are previously unknown, we can work to resolve those parts, to release the bonds of the past and also to integrate the inner parts which are fundamental to our Being.

The “shadow” is that which is the fodder for our entire human experience, in order to become more conscious, available, awake and alive.

Illuminating and resolving the shadow is the catalyst to become more of ourselves, in a more pure and clear form, without the residue of the past.

In doing so, we create a less dense, or a more ‘true’ version of ourselves. We are more capable of holding a higher vibratory form of energy. We become more illuminated or light-filled.

In this form, as we are more able to express our true nature, we begin to act according to the essence of our True Self, rather than the personality (egoic) sense of who we are (were).

We are more free to be and become, to show up and take action from a more clear and expanded version of our True Self.

What Shadow is Not


Shadow is not wrong, bad, evil or destructive in its nature. Only when we choose to deny the unconscious elements of ourselves do we allow our shadow to dominate our way in the world and thus create harm.

When we are made consciously aware of those parts of ourselves and the harm they create, and then still choose to continue along that path, we become victims of our own wounds, often projecting those wounds upon others as a form of denial.

When we are made consciously aware of those wounded parts and choose instead to uncover their origin, navigate the needs/ desires of those parts, and resolve the internal dilemmas associated with them, we can acknowledge and claim the regressed parts of ourselves.

Heal the rift. Integrate the parts. Welcome home that which was repressed.

Become more whole.

Why is Shadow So Hard to Resolve


Often we deny, ignore, or repress the parts of ourselves that are less favorable. Even if we are not fully aware of the entire pattern, instinctively we hold shame, judgment, criticism and guilt about our patterns and their resulting behaviors.

We often see the effect that our unconscious drivers have in our own lives, and on others, yet fear that illuminating the shadow will unleash some demon that will destroy our life if it is found out.

Yet, the more we attempt to push these parts into hiding, the more insidious and “dark” they become, as they are truly just parts of us that need to be acknowledged, nurtured and integrated.

Unwittingly, in our hidden desire to keep these parts in the shadows, we are creating further harm to ourselves.

When we uncover what is truly needed in us to be seen, loved and healed, all of that energy and life force will be repurposed and realigned with what truly matters to us.

And in the process, we turn shadow into gold.

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About The Author

I’m the Author of the bestseller, The Golden Thread: Where to Find Purpose in the Stages of Your Life. Download this free audio course to learn about your own Golden Thread of purpose.

I am a purpose activator and catalyst. I warn people they shouldn’t be near me unless they want to become a new version of themselves. That scares some people, delights others.

I’ve spent my life imagining a world where we could all become who we’re meant to be, awake and alive in a way that allows us to express our most innate, natural and purposeful gifts. I’m the creator and dreamer behind the Purpose Flywheel™.

Stay tuned or contact me to get started now.

Emergence Institute

Holly Woods, PhD

ⓒ 2020 Emergence Institute