LMTV #47: Illuminating the Shadow

What Parts of Yourself do You Hide…And at What Cost?

Consider the following scenarios and see if you can relate to any of them:

  • Have you ever done something in your life, and then later felt foolish, ashamed or mortified about having done it?
  • Have you ever declared in defense of something you’ve done, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time?”
  • Have you ever had the experience of doing something that you later declared was “accidental”, “unintentional”, “out of character”, “a total surprise”, or “not like you at all”? And when you looked back on the consequences of whatever it was you did, did you also perhaps cringe at the outcome you had created?

When stuff like this happens in our lives, it’s almost like there’s an invisible force—a dark force—that seems to take over. It’s as if we are no longer in control of our own thoughts, words, and actions—almost like we’re possessed in some way—and it can be a very disconcerting and disorienting experience. What’s worse, when this happens, it may seem like we’re stuck in the interaction, as if we have to ride it out and wait for it to play itself out.

Well, friends, say hello to your “Shadow”!

We all have shadows—parts of ourselves that we try to keep from public view because we believe that they are inappropriate, unacceptable, wrong, or just plain bad. Usually this is because at some point in our very early lives we heard admonishing or shaming words from other people—people that we looked up to, like parents, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, and so on. And because we all seem to have an innate desire to please those important people in our lives, we transform those admonishing words into internal messages that we have to change or repair those parts of ourselves we think are “broken”. But we soon discover that it’s very difficult to change, so we try instead to hide them—to push them into the background where we believe they can no longer be seen. The underlying shame that drives our effort to hide these aspects of ourselves is so deeply ingrained and so powerful that we generally aren’t even aware that we’re going to so much effort to keep them from being seen. Metaphorically, it’s kind of like going through life with a paper bag over your head!

Ironically, while it may seem like you’re doing the world a favor by keeping those “inappropriate” parts of yourself hidden in the background, in truth the only person who really believes they are hidden is you! Believe it or not, these “shadow parts” are often quite visible to other people—especially people who know you well!

In this episode, Tommy & David talk about the idea of “Shadow” in some detail. You’ll learn:

  • what shadow is and where it comes from;
  • how your shadow can run—and sometimes ruin—your life;
  • some ways that you can recognize and identify your own shadow;
  • some things you can do to re-purpose the power of your shadow so it serves you rather than tripping you up.

Please enjoy the video—and as always, please remember to leave a comment!

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