We will never truly be free until we confront our shadow. The shadow is all of the parts of ourselves that have not been fully integrated:
- Everything we have denied.
- Everything we suppress.
- Everything we repress.
- All the parts of ourselves we judge as negative so we hide them away from the world.
- Our unacknowledged fears.
- Our unhealed wounds.
- The parts of our nature, personality or temperament that we reject.
- The parts of ourselves we hide as they are judged as unworthy by our society.
The challenge with the shadow is that (as the Buddhists say), “What we resist will persist.” Hiding, ignoring, denying, imprisoning, bargaining away these parts of ourselves actually does the opposite. Instead of staying hidden, these parts of ourselves come out sideways – often in non-loving behaviors toward ourselves or others.
If we do not confront our shadow and do the difficult work of bringing it to the light so that it can be healed, transformed and re-integrated, then we will never be free. Without doing our shadow work, we will be forever condemned to “a life of quiet desperation” and our lives will amount to nothing because until we are free we will never know peace.
But herein lays the challenge. Few are willing to stand toe to toe with their own inner demons and even fewer have the courage to keep standing there until all their wounds are healed and they are truly free. Instead, they would rather avoid the shadow work while chasing after shiny objects – the illusion of achievement, success, money, power, and fame. In the meantime, their shadow is coming out sideways, hurting themselves and all the people around them. In the end, what they resist will be their demise.