Metamorphosis – Time for a change (by recognising your shadow self)
A leopard does not change it’s spots.
Once a fool always a fool…
These are not very helpful scripts, yet they roll of the tongue as if they are truth in many instances. It is simple, they are sayings that we all pick up, however they are not fair scripts because people can and have changed. It’s just the old thinking models say that this is not possible.
Change is possible. If change was not possible we would all still be behaving the way we did at five years old. Albeit some of us are probably still behaving as though we are five years old, but if that is through choice, that’s fine.
If on the other hand you are living your life with the inherent belief that you are unable to change, or with the idea that ‘they’ (whoever they are) have to change first before you change. Then you are locked in a cycle and this cycle can and will keep you trapped. In fact this cycle precludes a person from experiencing high level love.
The reason that change can be so hard is because we have internal voices that can stop us from making changes when we want. So you may have the inner critic, or the saboteur, your inner party animal, your crazy side etc. The fact is that we are all made up of components. There are many personalities that we can display.
It is easy to see these components in the people we know, you may notice that although you see them one way, when you voice this they say ‘no I am not like that, but thank you.’ I modelled the answer on a compliment. This happens all the time because oftentimes the areas where we can promote change are part of our shadow side.
When I talk about the shadow, I am not talking about a part of you that you need to let go of. The importance of the shadow side is that you realise it is as much part of you as the things that you would term as your light side. Shadow theory is a Jungian perspective. Jung said that we all hold a shadow and the less attention we give to this side of ourselves the heavier it will be.
‘…Yet it is not evil or bad – it is merely the sum of those parts of us that are incompatible with who we think we are…The shadow creates positive traits too. A young boy who has been caught dancing by his macho father & chastised may repress his inner dancer…’
Charlie Morley – Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming & Mindfulness of Dream & Sleep.
Take for example your inner critic, this is your voice usually modelled on something said or a way that a parental figure may have disciplined you when you were a child. Without, realising it you may be using the same language on yourself. The tougher the inner critic the harder it is to navigate harsh, difficult and traumatic times in your life. The reason that this is the case is because you are falling short of an unreasonable expectation. The expectation may have been realistic initially, ‘you’re not very good at that, why don’t you let me help you…’ becomes I am useless at that, this is a part of me that I do not like, I will not show it. Child logic often over amplifies fear of not being good enough. Yep, these statements take on huge proportions. I am not good enough, I am rubbish at this, and I best hide it away. These then become part of your shadow side.
As a child the messages get taken out of context because you are using child logic to understand. Once hidden away it becomes the pain side of you and gets trapped with all the other shadow parts of yourself that are crying out to be loved and released.
Of course there was nothing wrong with you doing this when you were young; you were creating coping mechanisms to help you to be the person that you were expected to be.
I believe that with big metamorphosis it is important to look at the parts of ourselves that are out of alignment with who we think we are. If we don’t do this change takes on huge proportions and makes moving forward harder.
As http://www.detoxorcist.com/jungian-shadow.html says in the article on Jungian perspective:
‘The Shadow represents our weakness that we have tried to deny or suppress, the things we hate about ourselves, that we recognise in others. It can also represent those (missed) possibilities or paths that we have never followed or have chosen not to follow. It represents everything we have not allowed ourselves to be or do, for whatever reason. This why they annoy us, as they reflect who we really are or were on some level...’
Link this to a change that you want to make, you will feel stuck because you are unable to move in the direction that you want to go because you have boxed that part of yourself into your shadow. This will cause paralysis and it is why people believed in the past that people didn’t really change. There were more limitations and beliefs that they had to contend with too, such women do not work, or if they do it's part-time, childcare is a female job, men go out and make all the money, they are the breadwinner, men pay when they take women out!! It paints a picture, right?
Fast forward 20 years later, you are no longer a child. However, you may have a whole toolbox of crazy (the saboteur, inner critic, the party animal, the silent one, the noisy one, the angry one etc) that helps you to ignore that there are repressed parts of yourself that need healing. Parts of yourself that once healed will help you to truly have the metamorphosis that you deserve. Not that there is anything wrong with these parts of yourself they are helpful. However when we are not recognising them and leaving them in the dark, they will shout louder to get our attention. This is not about losing these helpers it is about understanding and admitting that they are a part of who you are.
If you criticise your own ideas you will find it hard to change, if your inner shadow comes out every time you want to try something new, you will not change. However if you understand that the inner shadow is a messenger and not bad, but neutral, you may be able to make that change. It is simple the caterpillar would not become the butterfly if it resisted making the cocoon and then staying in there while the metamorphosis occurred.
As these are tools that you created to hide parts of yourself, they are also the tools that you can learn to understand. Change is possible, you just have to create new ways of understanding what will help you to learn to embrace the parts of yourself that you have hidden. The parts that I am talking about, Jung would have cited as the elements that represent the sun (our inner light), that gets trapped in the shadow, as Charlie mentioned re: the boy and his inner dancer. To truly create change from this angle it is for you to awaken your inner dancer that is trapped within your shadow. Whatever that inner dancer is for you?
You will know it when you are criticising, judging or angry with another. You will know it if you ask yourself what is it about that situation that annoys or upsets you. You will need to be brave here and be honest about the part of yourself that you are suppressing. Remember the other person represents a mirror, they are showing you something about yourself. In the end you may see it over and over again because your innate nature wants you to embrace the change that this represents for you.
One of my shadow components which held me back for years is my need to constantly shine a light on everything that I do badly. I would tell myself off incessantly for making the most minor mistakes. Stuff that everyone else would have forgotten that I would still be beating myself up about!!! Until I paid attention to what I was doing the pattern kept repeating. It was repeating to show me, that there were parts of myself in my shadow that I was trying to keep at bay. Really knowing the self means that you can accept the parts of you that are a little bit off the wall, we all have them and they are there because they are who we are.
Transformation is key here: so yes that leopard is gonna change its spots. You just need to create the space, embrace the new and give yourself time to gently get to know where your shadow self is at. Once you notice these parts of yourself and start to work with them you will find that making changes in your life will become easier. I am talking from experience here, this blog, my website, my business they have been sitting in my shadow self for years.
It is not for you to feel bad anymore, it is for you to embrace the whole of who you are. The ultimate of shadow work is to recognise that yes we are made up of light and dark and to be okay with it. Be okay with whatever you are, acceptance is the first step. Accept who you are and who other’s are so that you can have the life that you deserve as opposed to not following your dreams because you trapped your inner light in your shadow.
This is not to negate emotions and feelings, we are all human and sometimes we might get annoyed, overwhelmed, or happy … However if the emotion is creating hardship in your life, then it is worth taking a deep breath and starting the journey that will heal the pain that you are feeling. Being at odds with the yourself will create more and more inner pain.
You are the script writer of your life, if something makes you feel angry because it is a repressed part of you. that you were not allowed to express as a child for example. Make it your mission to get to know that part of you that you hid in your shadow. Because, once you get to know this part of yourself and send it love you may find that it no longer manifests in your life. This is ultimate change and metamorphosis based on inner light and love.
Lots of love to you all