Steven Pressfield calls it, “Resistance.”
Accomplishment Coaching calls it , “your Survival Mechanism.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, refers to, “not letting FEAR drive the car.”
I’m drawn to the crowd that refers to this part of ourselves as Shadow.
We all have this inner shadow. She’s the self that says “I want a new job” and then sabotages all the activity it takes to get there.
When Shadow self shows up, we have a tendency to react in fear: fight, flee, or freeze.
We have to learn to see when she shows up and we start by noticing our reactions. When I’m unconsciously being ruled by Shadow self, I sabotage things that I say I desire. I sabotage by fleeing. My shadow self is a runner, folks.
But here’s the thing: she is actually me.
This last month, I’ve been in deep with my Shadow self, not realizing why the sabotage was happening. It took an actual physical safety encounter to realize how deep in my Shadow I actually was.
We’d driven to rural Wisconsin for a weekend at the lake and my brain was soaking in the quiet, eager to get some space from the chaos, construction, and constant pace of DC life.
One morning, I set out on a slow schlep that I’ve called running, as a meditation back to my body, hoping to find peace.
It was raining + I didn’t want to risk my phone getting wet. No need for my phone here, I thought. Besides, I didn’t want to be bothered by more constant chatter in my ears.
Relish in nature, I decided.
It was quiet, so I ran in the middle of the curving road, only one car passed me while I meandered.
I could feel something in me unwind as I ran. My breath started to sync with my steps, my shoulders dropped down into place, my legs carried me forward with momentum.
Deep sigh of release. Movement. Forward. Letting go.
This July has been difficult for many reasons and the heaviness had been weighing on me.
Running and breathing,I felt quiet seep back into my brain, allowing space to just be.
I hit a fork in the road and turned around, starting back the way I’d come.
I’d barely run a few feet when I heard a rustle to my left and what I saw made my blood freeze.
Just over the long wild grass, was the head of a bear cub staring directly at me!
I immediately had 3 thoughts:
I kid you not, I started sprinting. Well, the bear, I must have scared him, because he took off in the opposite direction and high-tailed it for a telephone poll. I only know this, because I nearly broke my neck turning around to keep my eye on him while I sprinted forward.
Jill Bolte Taylor says that your body processes emotion in 90 seconds. What causes us to live in the pain and make it suffering is that we continue to live in the story of what happened.
I sprinted for 90 seconds feeling totally and utterly panicked. Then my pace started to slow, but as my pace started to slow, I started reliving the story. As I ran through my limited knowledge of bears in the wild, I started to panic again and my pace picked up.
I remembered that you don’t want to scare a bear by sneaking up on it, so I started yelling. I practiced whooping. I screamed, “YEEEEE HAWWW!!” at the top of my lungs, because isn’t that what cowboys do?!
By the time I got near to the house, I was exhausted.
As I switched from running down to walking, I started laughing. That bear had FREAKED me out. This girl, is a ride-or-die woman of FLIGHT and the bear had just shown me, on the most basic level, how my instinct handles her shit.
Shadow self didn’t just show up because I saw into a bear eyes. The truth is, I was feeling her for weeks prior. I’d been wanting to run by not calling back my girlfriends. I was feeling her in wanting to ditch my email inbox. I was feeling her every time I wanted to run from conversations with my guy. In other words, she was everywhere.
Each of us has a shadow side. When we don’t acknowledge our Shadow, she wreaks havoc in our lives. In order to accept our wholeness, we have to embrace our shadow.
Perhaps your shadow self shows up as a runner, too. Already Gone (like the Eagles song, yes?).
Perhaps, she freezes, can’t move, can’t choose, is stuck, stuck, stuck.
Perhaps you duke it out, with your boss, your colleagues, and worst of all yourself, fighting internally, waging war on yourself + not understanding why.
Glennon Doyle Melton says, “FEAR IS NOT THE BOSS OF US. Love is the boss of us.”
But guys!!! IT IS WAY HARDER TO LOVE IF WE’RE TRYING TO IGNORE A WHOLE PART OF OURSELVES. (Oh HEY, Shadow!)
I’m convinced that in order to truly know love, we have got to becoming aware of, listen, and love Shadow self.
Next week, I want to talk more on how to love her, because in doing so, we can practice love + understanding of the shadow self of the world (and that needs big love these days). But in order to love Shadow, you gotta notice that she’s present.
This week start with identifying.
Start with identifying:
Stay tuned for the next step. Start with noticing.
To your WHOLE SELF,
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.