Life Lessons with Monica: Shadow Work in Unexpected Places
Shadow work, something I have discussed before, and know I will many more times, is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It is one of the best things any of us can do for ourselves. It is the process of really breaking down our psyches, our repressed thoughts and emotions about ourselves and others, as well as the parts of who we are that we don’t like to allow out to see the light of day. If you think about Peter Pan, always struggling with getting his shadow sewn back to himself so that it does not run around and do things that he doesn’t agree with, then you will see what the purpose of shadow work really is. Shadow work is about working in harmony with the “darker” aspects of ourselves. Learning to love all of the dysfunction within us all because it isn’t truly dysfunctional, it is beautifully challenged and strengthened through that process.
There are a multitude ways of doing shadow work. From journaling to vlogging to leaving yourself voice messages, pulling tarot and oracle cards, seeing a therapist, talking to friends, anything and everything can be considered shadow work when you are cognizant of what you are thinking, feeling, and what is triggered and residing beneath the surface of those triggers. We all engage in shadow work regularly when we are authentic, honest, and open with our emotions. But, what if I told you that you can actually do shadow work while you are watching something seemingly frivolous like a reality television show? This is what I realized I was doing throughout the last few days. Getting creative with how I do shadow work, while simultaneously getting creative.
As I watched the women break each other down, get defensive with each other and the bachelor, cry and stand up for themselves, change who they are and grow as people, or stay exactly the same, I saw shadow work, sincerity, and insincerity in many different people who had undergone different life circumstances, and changed who they are and how they are. Now, not all of us get the benefit of watching how we are in interactions, nor to be completely broken down by complete strangers around the world, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of seeing the same things that the contestants see in themselves.
Self-awareness is one of the biggest buzzwords of Season 20. This is a buzzword still today. We all need to be self-aware. When you are living in the land of self-awareness, then you are able to see how people serve as a mirror for your own actions and reactions. Everything serves as a reflection when you live in the land of Self-Awareness. It is a beautiful thing. Self-awareness takes effort though, and it requires you to know how you sound, what you think, what your emotions truly are, and not simply the things that trigger an immediate emotional reaction, but rather what emotions reside below the surface of those triggers. For me, there was a comment in the show about “teen mom,” which, in the past, would have triggered me deeply. I was a teenage mother. I have a difficult relationship with my ex-husband and my eldest daughter’s father had his rights terminated because he was not willing to make the effort to be a part of our daughter’s life. These are things that I once tortured myself with. I tortured myself with the fact that I felt like I had chosen horrible fathers for my children. Was that a choice that I made? Perhaps, but I didn’t make them the men they are, they did that themselves. What I really chose was to love them despite who they were.
I know that I am a “fixer” and a “caregiver” who tends to focus more on what I can give to others and do for others than to and for myself. This is not okay with me anymore. Now I am learning to do the things for myself that I once did for the people in my life. Learning to grow through the conflicts and challenges in life is something that was only possible through doing my own versions of shadow work. At the end of it I realized that we, as a society, look too much to titles and guidelines and what is “right” to do. Shadow work is not a “right” versus “wrong” kind of undertaking. It is about what helps you grow as a person. I am reading several books right now, one of which is Spirit Hacking by Shaman Durek. What I have spent the past few days engaging in could too easily be considered as me being a “bobblehead” to the “matrix” simply because I am watching the unfolding of a reality television show. Yet I have the feeling that if Shaman Durek and I were to sit down and discuss the insights gained from something as simple as watching The Bachelor, he would agree with what I am telling you here and now: there is no right nor wrong way to do shadow work, so go and do it.