Today I am going to get pretty personal with you… because recently I had to get really personal with myself.
Several years ago, my coach sent me a book called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford and it made a huge impact on me.
I remember reading it and feeling… woah.
Rather than skimming it like I do with so many books, I slowed down to really pore through the sentences. The book was so intellectually intense and I knew that it was something I needed to really “get”.
The essence of the work is that we all have a “shadow”: qualities within us that we reject, avoid, and find hard to accept.
These are qualities that we believe are unacceptable, will be met with disapproval by others, or that annoy us about ourselves or others.
And here’s what we do: we run from our shadows.
We desperately try to make sure that nobody thinks we are ______ (fill in the blank quality that we really don’t want to be).
So we overcompensate. Ex. we don’t want to EVER appear lazy so we turn into total overachievers.
We limit ourselves.
We judge others when we see this “horrible-quality-we-don’t-
We create dis-ease within ourselves and within our lives.
We walk around trying to hold it together, making sure nobody ever sees these “horrible” parts of ourselves, and on top of that, we are constantly being triggered by others.
Such an exhausting way to live.
Two months ago, I attended a 3 day retreat run by the Ford Institute, which was founded by Debbie Ford (the author of the book).
The retreat was called the Shadow Experience, and it was an experience to take the lessons of her book so much deeper.
I was so nervous before I went. I knew that this retreat was going to get to some parts deep within me that needed to be seen.
I disconnected from my phone, business, and personal life, and immersed myself in this work for 3 days, knowing it was important for me.
As someone who has always struggled with full self-acceptance, I really want to give myself the gift of learning to love myself – even the hard stuff – even more.
As I sat there in a room of 40 people, we explored our shadows. We really went there within ourselves… finding out the qualities we had the MOST shame around.
Those qualities we would never want anyone else to call us.
The most shameful quality that came up for me?
Yep. Turns out, I had a LOT of shame and pain around this quality.
Over those few days, I spent a long time looking at this.
I got really clear on when I learned that being insecure was bad and that being confident was good.
I saw ALL the ways that my shame around being insecure has been driving my behavior – all the ways I have been overcompensating for never wanting people to see that I am insecure.
I also finally understood why I am sometimes triggered by insecurity in others – because I hate this quality within myself.
I looked at the gifts of being insecure – it makes me relatable and real, it makes me cautious in certain situations where being cautious is necessary, it keeps me humble and grounded and in a state of curiosity and learning, it encourages me to ask for help and support, etc.
We did several exercises to explore aspects of our shadow and then INTEGRATE them. Aka, learning to own them.
One of the many things I had to do was to repeat out loud to a group, “I am insecure. I am insecure. I am insecure.” over and over again until it lost it’s charge.
After days, I finally felt like I could put down the fight.
The fight toward this part of myself.
I no longer wanted to appear confident all the time. I actually started to love my insecure self.
I repeated this shadow process on other shadow qualities that emerged from the weekend, too. And I keep working on this every day.
In the months since the retreat, I have experienced more peace within myself than I ever have before.
My self-talk is kinder than it’s ever been, and I just feel like I am walking through life with less fear and anxiety and more peace and ease.
When we really learn to accept all parts of ourselves, rather than avoiding all these “dark” parts of us, we get to a place of inner peace.
We know we’re good with ourselves.
The truth is, we are all qualities.
We are insecure and we are confident.
We are lazy and we are productive.
We are dumb and we are smart.
We are unlovable and we are loveable.
And it’s all good.
And by the way… a side note which is a MAJOR side note… is that our relationships totally transform when we are at peace with ourselves. Because we have accepted all parts of our shadow, we are triggered less and less by others.
We can see their insecurity, their laziness, their ____, and we’re like, “yup, I am that, too.”
I found this all so powerful, that I decided to lead a workshop going over specific exercises and tools I learned in order to accept myself, especially the hard stuff.
This workshop will help you identify your shadow qualities and show you how to start integrating these parts within you, so that you feel more whole, more peace, and so that your relationships feel more harmonious.
This is super powerful work, get ready for it 🙂