The other day I was listening to an episode of Maddy Moon’s Mind Body Musings podcast called “Why You Should Bring Your Shadow Self Into The Light.”
Defining The Shadow Self
When I think of my “shadow self,” I think of all the attributes, thoughts, and habits that cause shame.
The thing about shame is that it’s detrimental to light. Guilt is a useful feeling because it can bring about positive change and denotes empathy when we’ve wronged somebody, but shame is different—it eats at the core and envelopes it with darkness.
Brown defines shame as:
the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
Sadly, I think we’ve all felt shame at one time or another.
In the podcast, Maddy Moon discusses her stubbornness as part of her shadow self. When her stubbornness leads to disagreements and hurt feelings, it’s a negative trait—a trait that has sometimes led her to feel shame.
But when she brings her stubbornness to the light and takes full ownership of it as part of who she is, it is the very trait that has catapulted her into success. Because she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, she was able to create her own business and thrive as a motivational speaker and life coach.
Her story is a prime example of why we should refine our shadow selves and bring them into the light.Bring your shadow self into the light @mindbodymusings #mentalhealth Click To Tweet
How Do I Bring My Shadow Self Into the Light?
Of course I started thinking about my own shadow self—traits that are deeply a part of me, for better and for worse.
Like Maddy, I’m fairly stubborn. I’m also a people pleaser with a deep respect for justice. And, as I’ve said before, I’m a perfectionist.
My perfectionism has been the root of many of my struggles. It’s caused me to feel unskilled and unworthy as a human being. And, yet, when I bring that drive into the light, it’s enabled me to do well in school and in my job. It’s the reason why I graduated near the top of my class and have received praise for my attention to detail and commitment to doing my job with maximum effort and precision.
I’m also very quick to criticize others.
That attitude is damaging and it has certainly been part of my shadow self. However, my quick criticisms are due to the fact that I hold both myself and my family/friends to extremely high standards. I believe there are certain truths and standards by which we all should be held, and when these standards are not met, the criticism flows.
Instead of feeling ashamed of this part of me, I should cultivate it with kindness and grace. Yes, I should hold myself and others to high standards, but instead of berating myself or others when we fall short, I should become that teammate who encourages and helps carry the team.
Mark has told me recently (when I was angrily texting him about an extremely partisan political discussion) that he “loves my passion.” My passion for causes I believe in and for justice is undoubtedly a strength, but when I let that passion cloud my understanding of others’ opinions and life experiences, it becomes part of my shadow self.
The point is, I own these traits. Am I stubborn? Yes. Am I overly critical? Too often. Am I unwavering in my convictions? Without a doubt.
Yet within each of these weaknesses is a strength—and it’s up to me to use them properly and bring them out of the darkness and into the light.
Bringing your shadow shelf into the light is about reforming—and redirecting—not repressing.Reform, don’t repress! Inspiration from @brenebrown @mindbodymusings Click To Tweet
[linking up for thinking out loud]
So tell me…
- How do you define shame?
- How could some of your “shadow self traits” serve yourself and others?
- What’s your favorite podcast?