I am always amazed at how tricky and brilliant the shadow is. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the qualities that I truly admire in others or would want in a soulmate. I have noticed that recently my list includes people who I see as creative geniuses, visionaries, humanitarians, and influencers. People who are engaged in life, dedicated to service. People who are compelling and feel compelled to make a difference in the world.
Now of course, as a person who talks about the shadow day in and day out, I know that all of these light or positive qualities that I admire in others are in me. I also know that the Universe is a benevolent teacher. Always acting in real time, it continually reflects back to us the qualities that we need to own in this moment in order to accomplish our next goal or to evolve into our next greatest expression of ourselves.
The fact is that all of the qualities you see in others are within you. Yet if you are not owning them, if you are projecting them on to others, then you do not have access to those qualities and cannot be as successful, brilliant or grand as you would be if you had access to and were fully able to express those qualities in the world. It's like missing a secret ingredient in a recipe -- the end product might still turn out well, but the secret ingredient is what would make it mouth-watering and over-the top.
The Universe has been gently nudging me to start owning these qualities that I covet in others since January when I saw the musical Hamilton and fell completely in awe of its creator, writer, and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. Never have I been so mesmerized by such a "creative genius." Although at the time I knew I was being shown a quality in myself that was wanting and needing to be owned, there was obviously something more that the Universe was trying to show me.
Since that time, wherever I go I see articles about visionaries and hear stories about humanitarians. My attention continues to be drawn to all of the people in the world who are doing extraordinary things. The other day as I was waiting in a totally nondescript local physical therapist's office, dwelling in my thoughts about my light projections, challenging the Universe to show me what I needed to see, in walks a man who is recognized as being one of the greatest visionaries, humanitarians, and brilliant minds in this country. Totally in awe of not only the man but the magic of manifestation and the Universe, I was rendered speechless. Although I wanted to strike up a conversation with this man and acknowledge him for being such a visionary, I just smiled instead and fumbled over some words as he shared pleasantries. Within minutes, I of course kicked myself for staying in my comfort zone and not seizing the opportunity!
But as Lin-Manuel Miranda penned in Hamilton, "Wait For It, Wait For It." In that moment, I had my "Aha!" The piece I had been missing was the opposite side of the equation. I had been so busy focusing on owning my light that I forgot to work on the "dark side" of that quality.
To have your next evolutionary leap, not only do you need to identify and own your light but you also need to look at all of the ways you are not that, all of the choices you make and actions you take that lead you further away rather than closer to light that quality. The reason that I find the shadow so brilliant but so tricky is because even I was "blinded by the light!"
Now don't get me wrong. My life will change dramatically when I truly own that I am a compelling creative genius and visionary. But it was the recognition that not only were these people showing up in my life to reflect back my light but to also show me all of the ways I am sabotaging my light that caused my shift. The opposite of that which I covet -- "compelling" -- is that which I judge -- "staying comfortable." Whenever I tolerate my mediocrity or stay in my comfort zone, I feel the pain of being out of integrity.
Whether it is remaining in an intimate relationship that is "easy" but lacks luster, a friendship that is polite but not profound, or a career that feels appropriate but not purposeful, any time you are settling for smaller than who you are, you are going to feel a gnawing in your gut.
Now of course a fundamental concept of shadow work is to find the gold in the dark, to find the ways in which a "negative" quality can actually serve or benefit us.
Despite all of the affirmations we read that tell us to "Go Big or Go Home!", "Step Outside of Our Comfort Zone!", or "Just Do It!" I know that there are many gifts in being comfortable. Being comfortable allows me to just relax every now and again and not always feel compelled to be push myself. However, knowing that if you are still reading this newsletter then you are a person committed to your own transformational growth, the important thing to recognize is that when it comes to shadow work, you must look at your light and your dark and see how both, as well as your lack of embracing both, are impacting your life in that moment. Compelling or Comfortable, Successful or Failure, Visible or Invisible, Brilliant or Stupid, Fascinating or Boring - we all have both sides of the equation inside of us. Be careful about being myopic. Be careful about becoming blinded by the light. Not only is there gold in the dark, but owning your dark is also the key to switching on and turning up your most brilliant light!
Transformational Action Steps
(1) Start noticing the qualities of the people you truly admire or would want in a soulmate and make a list.
(2) Determine the dark qualities that are on the opposite side of the equation from those light qualities.
(3) Journal about how you are both sides of the equation and how the qualities on both sides of the equation can benefit, serve, protect or teach you.
(4) Come to The Shadow Experience July 8th to July 10th at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York to explore your dark and your light!