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Honouring Your Shadow

The brighter our light, the darker our shadow. ~Dr. Douglas Brooks

Winter Solstice is one of the most potent days of the year to me. For many, this is a time of celebration of the return of the light. And what’s not to? The light is a joyful place to be and definitely one to celebrate. For me, solstice is a time to also acknowledge my shadows. The darkest day of the year is a call to examine the rich learnings offered by the aspects, or traits, inside me that are tougher to feel, acknowledge, and that have been disowned for their “imperfections”.

One of my shadows is an imprint I developed from childhood. Growing up, my choices were questioned often. It felt like no matter what choice I made, it was the wrong one. It was utterly confusing and frustrating, as I could make a choice on either end of the fence and it would still not be the “right” one. This led to me developing a fear of making the “wrong” decision, and the fear created a reaction to be guarded and defensive about my choice being right. When this shadow comes up, she’s not very open, soft, or fun.

She can be angry.
She can be ferocious.
She can be unpleasant.
She can be stubborn as hell.

Yesterday my “I’m not wrong” shadow came out in full force. A situation came up with my partner where we had a disagreement about a decision to be made, and it got fiery. I interpreted his words as judgmental and critical because it felt like he was saying I couldn’t make good decisions. This set us off on a path that quickly spiralled downhill.

When shadows come up, there is often a past imprint that we carry into the present moment. This imprint carries with it a whole set of stories, assumptions and fears.

I am not safe.
I am not heard.
I am not worthy.
I am not lovable.

This is when I call on the wise teachers that have encouraged me to see these triggers as times to celebrate. Truly! These are moments where we are not yet free, and it is an opportunity bring the shadow to light so it can lose its grip on us. In my trigger yesterday, I was hearing his words and interpreting them based on a dynamic with a primary caregiver that started when I was young.  When we bring the past, especially a wounded past, into the present, it can be a recipe for disaster, as we are locked into a belief system that is limited and usually outdated. With it comes a whole set of alert reactions that aren’t always necessary or relevant now. Plus, add in your partner’s own set of triggers in there and things can get messy, quickly.

The gift in this, is that when these triggers are held in a container of love and we are able to recognise that there is an old program running, there is space to change the old program. These are ripe moments for healing. It is a chance to see a situation from a clearer, present moment perspective, rather than an old critical voice that creates contraction. It is a key to greater freedom.

Bring the unconscious to the conscious.
Hold it in a container of love.
Breathe.
Re-write the program.
Let go of the trigger.
Soften into the expansion.

So on this Winter Solstice, I honour my shadow. I honour the parts of me inside that forget my wholeness. I bring the darkness to light so that all of me can be loved and celebrated. Happy Solstice, and may you honour your light and your shadow on this potent day.

Alice Hong

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