This is the one where shadow work is going to get super hard. Everything I’ve had you put in place is enough to support you, if you allow yourself the space to utilize the tools I’ve given you. And yes, I’m calling you out. Well, calling out your shadow. You know the saying Namaste? You know that it roughly says “the spirit/soul within me sees and recognizes the spirit/soul within you?” I need my own saying that means “My shadow sees your shadow and its calling it on its bullshit”. I kid, but only a little. In order to successfully make it through this work, you have to allow yourself some self-care. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Don’t tell me “I don’t have time.” No one has time. Those who have hit the bottom and are sick and tired of being there make time. So, make time. Manifest it, move around your schedule, watch an hour less of TV at night, whatever you have to do. Make absolutely sure you have time set aside for yourself to practice self-care. Make it into a ritual if you must. Light a candle, put on some Wardruna, let the universe know that during this half hour this is me time. I’m going to sit my ass down right here, and enjoy some fucking outdoors or a few pages of a good book. I’m currently checked out of life and checked into myself. Please take a number and sit over there, I’m on my break.
I’m being intense about this because from here forward we will be literally tearing up the inside of our proverbial house that we’ve been living in for the past however many years. I was roughly 24-25 years old when I started this work. That’s a long ass time to live a certain way only to start ripping it all down and building something new. Something that’s your own. Something you can look at and go “Yes. This. This is me. And this makes me proud.” Are you ready? Okay. Let’s get into the deconstruction process, then, shall we?
Let’s start with that emotion I had you working with for the past week. Just as a forewarning, you’re not done working with that emotion. In fact, I’ve been working with Anger for almost ten years and I’m STILL uncovering connections. But this is a starting point. I want to encourage you to continue to do this work even beyond what I’m about to teach you. It will open more doors within you, dust off more shelves, and help you understand yourself even better the more you do this work. Remember, you’re giving yourself the gift of choice. Enjoy that.
Find a comfortable seated position, in a chair or cross legged on the floor. If seated in a chair, really press your feet into the floor, centering the knees above the ankles. Try to feel every point of the foot touching the floor. Lift your toes, press the toes back down onto the floor. Lift the heels, then drop the heels back to the floor. If you are seated, rock gently to one side, pressing the hip into the chair or the floor. Rock gently to the other side. Feel your sits bones pressing into the floor. Avoid arching the back, but roll the shoulders back and down, raising the heart and lengthening through the spine. Gently roll the head back and forth, side to side. Take a few deep breaths. In and out. Breathe until your breathing becomes even and not forced. Feel yourself relaxing. Feel your mind calming. Focus on the breath. In and out.
I want you to call out to the emotion. Bring it forward to embrace it, but don’t engage with it. Return to the breath if you feel yourself physically reacting to the emotion. Encourage the emotion to come forward and listen to it carefully. What is it saying to you? What is it wanting to tell you? Did it give you a word? Did it give you another emotion? Go deeper. Ask what else is here? If it becomes too intense or frightening or harmful, pull back return to the breath. We are only observing right now. We are only listening. We are detectives searching for answers. Keep asking why. What else can we find. Go as deep as you feel comfortable, then pull yourself out by returning to the breath. Gently deepen your breathing, wiggle your toes and your fingers, engage your spine by gently rocking back and forth, roll the shoulders, and open the eyes. Write down everything you found. Make it a conversation with yourself.
Now, return to the work you’ve been doing with the emotion prior to that short meditation. What syncs up with what you just heard? Can you dissect the situation? Can you identify what it was about the situation that caused the uncomfortable emotion? Find what’s similar between the “in the moment observation” and the “observing in a quiet, thoughtful way” and begin to work backwards from there.
In the beginning, you might only uncover emotions or sensations. Dialogue or simple words may begin to crop up, but eventually, we will be digging up memories and events linked to this emotion. I see it as a spider web and we (our conscious selves) are the spider. When a fly (a situation or event) gets caught in our web (often in a place built from trauma or hardship) it sends vibrations to us through the web. We become disinterested in where the fly landed, and become consumed only with the fly itself.
To help you better understand, I am going to share a piece of my own web that I’ve dismantled and have begun to rebuild. I was an angry individual. Angry with everything and everyone. I had no fuse, only gun powder. And I was quick to set it alight. Someone once told me that I often reacted as if I were a cornered animal. I thought for a long time that anger was what fueled me. That that was the only way I would ever been seen and heard in a world that seemingly didn’t want anything from me.
It wasn’t until I started to observe my anger, did I realize that I wasn’t angry all the time. Instead, it was specific moments that would ignite the fire. Moments that I identified as being linked to a perception of others trying to control me. Of others trying to tell me what I should be doing, or should not be doing. I had dreams, I had ideas, I had fire. Unfortunately, I always had someone to tell me that “you can’t do that” or “that’s not for ladies” or “you will never survive” or “that’s too hard” or “that’s too much work, you’ll never succeed”. What I didn’t have was someone who said “That’s going to be tough, let me help you”.
So, I created a defense mechanism to prevent myself from getting stomped on and pushed back down because I spoke too loudly about what I wanted for myself. I became quiet, hidden, easily manipulated, silent. I did what others wanted from me. I had outlets like smoking cigarettes and drinking that were all mine and no one could tell me that I couldn’t do that because it was perfectly legal for me to do so. I would buy whatever I wanted from the store because I wanted it and that’s all I get to give myself. To others, I became pleasant, happy even. To myself, I became complacent. I gave up everything I ever wanted to have, to make room for what I was taught to want.
The anger didn’t go away. It got way worse. Just quieter, more internal instead of external. I took it out on myself. Not only mentally beating myself up, not only giving up half way through a dream because the idea of pursuing something for myself was so goddamned foreign that my mind removed it like a harmful substance, but the anger also showed up physically. I still have the scars plain as day, reminding myself of what I put myself through. And also, a bitter reminder of why this work is so important.
For a long time, I was angry at other people. Because they were angry with me not being able to conform or fit into the mold they created for me. I accepted that. However, after becoming the observer of my emotions, I realized that I was angry with myself. How could I have allowed myself to give up on something so easily? Where did my passion go? My fire? Why were they able to take that from me? Why couldn’t I stand up for myself? Why I can’t I now? Why can’t I work hard towards the things that I want now? Why do I still give up half way through? Why is it such a fight still? Because I was never taught how.
Do you see how the web was connected? Anger would be sparked from outside control, originally, I would turn that anger on others, then when I was told that wasn’t appropriate or fair, I turned the anger in on myself. Even right now, I’m sitting here with anger as I hear my shadow self telling me “just stop this already. You’re not good enough to do this. You’ll never help anyone, especially not yourself. Just give up.” And yet, here I am. I’m still posting, because it’s what I want to do.
In the next post, we will be going over how to work through and take responsibility of the shadow now that we have an idea of what it is and where it came from. I am so proud of you for making it this far. This work is hard and it will threaten to bleed you like a stuck pig, but you have your emergency aid kit, so go use it. I know I will be using mine. This one was hard for me. This shadow is still a bit raw, but like I said, as I take you through this work, I too am experiencing this first hand.
Don’t forget that agreement we made in the beginning. You know, that one where if (and when) this becomes too difficult you will seek out professional help? Do it if you need it, there is no shame in that. I am. Speaking of which, I’m off to do my own self-care. Love to you and the work you’re doing. Reach out if you need guidance or just need support. I’ll offer what I can. You got this, trust me.