Shadows and silhouettes
By Alexia Elliott
The day is closing in, I am sitting looking out of the kitchen window, which leads to the fields at the back of my home. The trees in the distance are silhouetted against the fading light. Their outline black and sharp, is all that can be seen.
We know there’s more to the trees than what we can see, but until the light shines again, we cannot see the different parts that make up the tree as a whole.
“it is not the eyes of others I am weary of, but my own” Noel Coward.
Nature is laden with fascinating metaphors offering us opportunities to gain deeper insights into ourselves, if we allow ourselves a moment to pause. Im sitting down with my cup of tea, watching the sun disappear into the horizon. My thoughts drift to social media, and how this is like a silhouette.
How we present, often carefully chosen facets of our lives, to create illusions to the outside world sharing insights into our lives. It’s curious isn’t it? that we take photographs of our beautifully constructed healthy meals, or write a post informing everyone how hard we have worked at the gym or at yoga,(I’m aware, I better include myself here ) or how much fun we had last night at a party, with our numerous wonderful friends.
Is this for our self esteem? Or Is it, defining our self concept? Or is it, creating an illusion that our lives are far better than they really are?
My musings, are not criticisms, as we are all guilty of this form of ‘show and tell’ in various degrees. Would I really want my Facebook friend list to be full of people eating junk food, slobbing in front of the TV, moaning about their lack of friendship and happiness. My train of thought went full steam ahead, to thinking how this might relate to Carl Jung’s theory of the shadow.
The shadow, according to the Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung, is the unknown ‘‘dark side’’ of our personality. The shadow tends to consist predominantly of the primitive, negative, socially or religiously depreciated human emotions and impulses like sexual lust, power strivings, selfishness, greed, envy, anger or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature, completely obscured from consciousness.
The shadow represents the repressed in our life. When we encounter difficulties in life, for example, if you continue to encounter many difficult relationships in your life, at some point we have to wonder is this more about me, why do I keep repeating the same patterns. Valuable insights and potential healing may lie hidden within the shadow, which will enable us to break unconscious patterns of behaviour. There are positives, that can be gained from the shadow, we can encounter much resistance, which is often fear.
Rumi said, ‘that the wound is the place where the light enters you’, I believe we do not just wake up or become enlightened. (Whatever enlightenment, really means), I believe we are forced to deal with our ‘stuff’ when finally it becomes unbearable to live with anymore.
Something will happen, a major problem, issue, trauma, or life change that causes us to reflect, and feel forced to take action, or to soul search for release from the inner turmoil.
If everything’s going well in our lives, the tendency is to just go along unconsciously “bib bobbing” along.
I do think that when adversity comes, we can use it as an opportunity to finally see things that would have been invisible before. The wound opens us up and shows us things that are only visible through the wound. our distress, allows us to see and think in a way that we cannot think otherwise. Depression, for example, allows us to have thoughts that we couldn’t have if we were not depressed.
Stephen Harrod Buhner said “Continually trying to look on the bright side interferes with our finding the wisdom that lies in the fruitful darkness. Continually striving upward toward the light means we never grow downward into our own feet, never become firmly rooted on the earth, never explore the darkness within and around us, a darkness without whose existence the light would have no meaning”
This is actually my most favoured quote. Dealing with our darker side, can be uncomfortable, it can also be painful, and a bit embarrassing at times. However this part of us, is rich in wisdom, it is also a part of us, that we can not banish or get rid of, it’s a part of us that actually needs kindness, love and compassion. Embrace your darkness, love yourself for your envy, fear and inadequacies.I believe once we understand and embrace our darker side, it enables us to be happier, to feel more congruent, and at ease with our lives, which I believe give us the courage to walk on the path where our heart and soul intends.
Let’s not allow Social media to encourage us to be afraid of who we are.
let’s not buy into the nonsense that we all have to be perfect to be of value.
Let’s celebrate being who we are, with our imperfection, flaws and lumps, bumps, fears and inadequacies.
Trust you are more than enough
Peaceful blessing and love