ASK ABDI: HOW DO I DELVE DEEPER INTO MY SHADOW?
QUESTION: What do you suggest someone do to delve deeper into their shadow and actively engage in "the work"? I recognize I can only be where I am, but in that recognition I am also feeling stagnant. I want to dig deeper into my blind spots, but as they are mine own - they are hard to see. There are the moments that I see them (or think that I do), but then I look away. Do you have any suggestions on how to dig deeper into the blind spots and hold myself accountable?
ANSWER: You make several important points in your question, so lets take them one at a time. We all have blind spots caused by unconscious aspects of our shadow. Depending on their severity, we can experience anything from a lack of vitality to an unconscious repetition of painful patterns in our lives. I always recommend working with a therapist for digging into and through such things. To your point, the shadow by its nature is invisible to the conscious mind. Having another person guiding us is invaluable in discovering and clearing these areas. But there is work that can be done by ourselves.
Good for you for wanting to dig deeper and being aware of feeling stagnant. Many of us can have the same feeling and not know that is a sign of being stuck. We can feel something is off, but try to remedy the situation by looking externally. So take heart in that. You say we are where we are, but that can also become a defense mechanism against not wanting things to be different. There is an immense unconscious fear of change that we can have, so it is important to push through those feelings. You point out that there are moments that you see clearly, and then you look away. Start right there. Feel into the last time that happened. Investigate what feelings came up when you saw something and what made you look away. We all do this all the time. We can shut down a feeling, blame another person or situation for an experience, etc. Taking self-responsibility in the correct measure is powerful.
Another interesting exercise is to sit down and examine our lives. What are some recurring patterns that are not palatable? Friendships or relationships that are not what our heart desires, and yet we find ourselves drawing them in repeatedly. These situations can be the smoke that leads to the fire. But again, they are not easy for us to see as we are in them. So, we do need to work on breaking the self-hypnosis. We have taught ourselves over time to confuse poison with nutrition. That is how we survive unhealthy aspects of our unconscious at work when they manifest in relationships. For example, we can spend time with people that drain us or that we drain under the guise of a healthy relationship. Situations like this take time to see clearly, but there are always signs along the way that we expertly push aside. Until the pain is too strong to do so.
One last point: go gently into this journey. It is always important to hold ourselves accountable, as you put it. This does not mean kicking our own teeth out over patterns that were active when we were unconscious. Much shame can come up when we are faced with our deep flaws. It is not pleasant to have our idealized self-image shaken. Making room for our deep humanity and its many distortions is part of this journey.