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Man at Desk

Shadow Work

New mental concept development: I've recently been introduced of a concept that contains great depth, and somehow also managed to sneak up on me and practically flick me between the eyes to get my attention.

When we walk around in any kind of light there is a shadow that follows, and as the light shifts, as does our shadow. We enjoy the light on our face. We perceive goodness from facing the light and rejoice in the warmth is gives us.

Often times our children walk beside us or behind us. Walking this way, we are able to both teach them what is in front of us and protect them simultaneously. [here is where this idea shook me]

Walking beside or behind us, our children see both the sun we enjoy, and the shadow that trails us. The coolness of the darkness that matches our every seam. While we may walk away from our shadows, they don't leave us.

Brené Brown has a podcast called Unlocking Us and I will often listen to it as I drive because it is one of the few times that I am awake and both of my children are strapped to seats. She brought up the idea of turning to face the dark things in ourselves and striving to make them better, a little less heavy if you will. She or whomever she was speaking with has labeled it shadow work. We take an honest inventory of our shadow and attempt transformation.

I think in theory it's a strength, but in practicality I have seen shimmers of light and slivers of shadow within it- when I choose to "stand on principle" in a conversation (with anyone, but particularly my husband and more so my daughter) it turns quickly to pride.

Give that a moment on the brain. In my desire to be right and do things without change or growth (because growth takes effort and that's exhausting), I've both stunted my own growth while simultaneously giving my daughter an example of what pride looks like that she can later (when upset) burst forward utilizing in all her intellectual glory.

Hello shadow, my old friend.

Now that we've revealed the problem and publicly announced a shortcoming, let's talk about the revelation, shall we?

A few weeks ago my mom sent me something via Facebook. Not uncommon, I read the short description that was attached to the image and moved on with my day (let's hope this is a bit more compelling). It wasn't until I ruminated on the idea of shadow work that I came back to it and connected the dots.

The corresponding article recommended washing your children's feet as Jesus did his disciples' in an effort to show humility & servanthood for others. While the idea of servanthood is a wonderful thing to teach in any setting and certainly the main focus of the article, it wasn't those dots that connected in my brain. What connected was a medium in which to break my pride.

There is no way (of which I can think) to hold the "principles" close and to also bend forward to wash my children's feet. I think of pride like a steel bar adhered to my back. It forces me to stand straight, unbending or growing in a different direction. Washing their feet removes the bar, but more than that it requires me change my heart posture toward my child. [Read heart posture within the approach, not lack of discipline]. Would I prefer to be proud in the moment and "win" that particular battle, or to exemplify humility and watch her soften before my eyes, becoming moldable as I wish to be? The answer in text is easy but the weight of that shadow does not carry itself (thank you, Jesus).

My hope is that, by recognizing my shadow and willingly confronting it with action based in humility, that her's might not be as difficult to turn and face.


Similarly, turning to face our habits and natural instincts concerning our health means identifying them. Once identified, disconnecting from them or decided to willfully ignore them is more difficult.

What if we took the same approach? Instead of standing on the principles of nostalgia that so often is the cause for our habits, what if we took a heart posture of humility around what a small change could impact. It may even make our shadow smaller or less heavy. 😉



1 Comment

There is a lot of wisdom in these posts my dear and for that I thank you.

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