Shadow Work – Part II

“The hardest truth I’ve ever swallowed is looking in the mirror and realizing at some point I went from being the victim to being the abuser.”

What happens when our hunger for power or fear of being hurt turns us into the aggressor?  How will we know?  When will this happen?  These are all questions we can ask self.  Once we start to ask questions and become a witness to our actions and behaviors, then we can start to excavate to our authentic self. Until we start this inner dialogue with self, we are sure to stay dependent and delay our interdependent growth!

In general, we will either look to do the harm, or we will be so afraid of getting harmed that we begin to lash out to avoid what we fear. In both cases, we become ‘abusers’. What is interesting is that abusers, since they once were victims, still believe they are the victim. You made them do it! Again, if we refuse to take ownership of our behavior and seek to blame others, then in that instance we are the abuser who believes we are the victim. That is why this work is so hard! We must learn to re-parent ourselves and literally teach ourselves how to emotionally grow up!

If we don’t then we may become the 40, 50, or 60 year old man still emotionally cleaved to mother. So enmeshed we are unable to have long term healthy relations, but rather engage in a series of fully enmeshed relationships. We may become the girl who is sexually abused but still seeks the approval of our father even though he is the abuser. Less extreme cases are that we seek the approval of others only to be rejected by those same people.

When we have no authentic self we may appear hyper self-reliant on the surface (I did this all myself), but people sense the strong ‘emotional need’ just beneath the surface (please see me).  In our fragmented state, they are not rejecting us, they are simply rejecting this false image we project.  This may look like over confidence and strength on the surface but weakness and desperation for approval just beneath.  We will be a conundrum that confuses and baffles not only other people but also ourself. 

Shadow work realizations are hard to sit with.  Shadow work is the path to freedom but the path to get there is filled with shame.  When must develop the ability to squarely review our part.  We can only see our part by deep inward reflection.  We must acknowledge the damage we have caused with our “trigger responses” and this is painful.  When we shed light on the part of our self that lashes, we start to do our own shadow work.  We come to realize we struck at the heart first because we were afraid.  We may start to realize the other person had no intent to harm, we just feared it and lashed out.  If that’s true, then we hurt someone that had no intention to harm us. 

Any trigger response is a reaction. Reactions have ripple effects.  So the key to inner work is to tend to self in a loving way so that we are not ‘reacting’ all over the place and perpetuating shame cycles!  This is no easy task.  Shadow work requires intentional inward reflection.  Anytime we are disturbed we must go within and ask “what is this really about?”.  We can learn that an inward disturbance is a gift.  Instead of “hating” the way we “feel” when triggered which is just another form of self hate, we can learn to love this process!  We can learn to see inner disturbance as a chance to get to know self better.  A chance to go into new places and explore.  A chance to become fully integrated.  A change to cut some of the dependency cords that are keeping us emotional hostage.

We are afraid to cut chords and the reason behind this is quite simple. To cut chords, means a sort of death. We are sustaining our life by being attached to the life of another.

If we cut this chord, we die. It’s that simple.

So the key is to work on self and go within every time we are disturbed. As we begin to build self, we will be less fearful of cutting those life cords. If we are disturbed it is a sign something within us is out of balance. This is a very hard concept for us because our brain may confuse this work with “being blamed that all is our fault”.

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