Shadow working: an insight into inner work and a lesson learned

by | Oct 5, 2021 | Latest

I learned something about myself this weekend that I didn’t like.

After watching a show, I couldn’t decide what to think about it. So I pulled on the first available inner thread to see where it went.

Now, to be fair, it’s good to just sit and reflect and pull threads. Cultivating awareness of our reactions is how we begin to get insight into ourselves.

We just need to be careful about taking our opinions seriously.

I try never to.

So I started pulling the thread. There’s a reason why it was tingling, and I couldn’t focus on any other approaches. So I kept pulling it, and wrapping myself in the thought.

I banged it out into a blog article, to start making sense of my thoughts.

By the end, it wasn’t sitting right. My movie review felt disjointed.

I shared it with a friend, and she said simply – ‘yes, but there’s still a lot of good in the movie you overlooked.’

That’s when I began to realize.

My shadow had written that review.

The shadow side has a few hallmarks; egocentrism, preservation of self, an easy default to us vs them thinking, a hunger for dualistic clarity.

These are not always bad things. We need these little (or massive) programs running around inside us.

But they shouldn’t be the hand turning the head.

So I needed to find out what I’d overlooked.

The only place to start was to dump everything, and begin again. This time, trying to find the good.

Where was the good…

So I started with what was obviously good.

Then I moved into summarizing the story from that viewpoint.

I ruthlessly deleted every time I started to inject my feelings, or perceived flaws. I tried to let the story sit with me, to embrace all of it – it’s own heart and its shadow.

And that rewrite flowed like magic.

All of a sudden I discovered God in everything. I could see all the themes of goodness and sacrifice and heroism. They had been pricking at me the whole time, but my ego was invested in pulling the throbbing red thread marked ‘danger’.

By the end, I realized that my review finally felt more true to who I am.

More true to the call to see clearly, and still celebrate the good wherever it is found.

I had been looking at the show, and judging it from the outside.

I needed to enter into it and try to see it from the director’s point of view.

That monumental and yet little action completely transformed my focus.

As I re-read through the first draft, I deleted everything. All my disappointment, my clever wording, my harsh and unforgiving breakdown… gone.

I know I have more to learn. But thanks to that one friend, I think I see just one step more clearly now.

Now I have to get back to the hard work of living it out. Because if a truth stays in my head, then that means nothing.

It has to be acted out, lived out, worked out, to become belief.

Thank you, friend. And thank you, Shadow.

We have a long way to go yet.

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Dominic de Souza

Dominic de Souza
Cradle-Catholic passionate about the frontier between Faith, history, and science in the modern world. 

Dominic de Souza

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