Okay, we heard from HOW TO BE AN ADULT – – its SHADOW DANCE‘s time to take the floor in this David Richo book face-off. This book is much deeper, denser than the first. And be advised – the post is considerably longer. Let’s go!
Our work on ourselves is… the only chance the weighed-down world has for healing, since it can only happen one person at a time.
Humility comes from the word humus. To be rooted in earth’s conditions with an unconditional yes to humility. It is not to perceive ourselves as beneath all things, but to be conscious of our place within all things.
In the face of rejection, we let ourselves be vulnerable both to it and to our own grief about it and strong enough to take what has happened as information.
Fearfulness is an inability to be vulnerable; it is defendedness. This is why fear is the opposite of love. Fear is a renouncing of vulnerability to hurt or grief. Love says yes to vulnerability.
An encounter with the agenda of the Self is frightening to the ego. Losing face can feel like a deathly defeat. Our ego transformation carries an image of bodily death. Yet this is not about annihilation of our existence. It is a liquidation of our past, our limits, our fear of spiritual heights, as grapes are liquidated to become wine. The grapes are not thereby destroyed, but fulfilled. In any myth, ego disintegration is always the bridge and means to rebirth, not the end of the story.
Functionality means skill in achieving healthy goals.
Change is a psychological event; transformation is a spiritual gift.
Nonviolence is not submission to injustice, but an alternative way of resisting it. It is the healthy ego’s creative response to injustice rather than the inflated ego’s automatic reaction to it.
Wholeness happens as external choices match internal qualities.
Wisdom is so big, no one person has it. We need one another to piece its fragments together in successive moments in time.
Everything in nature, persons, and life events joins in for our wholeness. The urge for wholeness is not only within but everywhere around us. Our identity is more than our deepest needs, values, and wishes. It has a wider scope and purpose: unconditional love, perennial wisdom, and healing power.
Everything about us joins in the urgent enthusiasm of our psyche to become a midwife of wholeness.
The legacy we leave the world does not have to take the form of a book, a painting, or a place in history. It can be a virtue, a love that makes a difference, a life honestly lived.
Our potential is activated in two ways: by the unfolding of what is in us by grace, and by work & practice to enliven & animate it. Inherent in that which is potential is a will to open, as the chick in the egg surely knows. It takes effort to peck at the shell & open it; it takes nature’s grace to make the bill strong enough to pierce the shell. Both are necessary & it all happens synchronously.
Once we assume our full stature, we no longer need to people our world with either giants or pygmies. We will all be companions.
The core of the shadow is the archetype of the enemy or the stranger. We are required to “be careful about strangers” to survive safely in early life. This is why family violations are so insidious – we do not have a program within us to watch out for danger from that quarter because they do not fit the stranger-danger archetype. Our instinct is to trust family members & not to confront or at least steer clear of them.
We are preprogrammed to trust & love those who care for us. This is why we originally let in self-defeating shadow messages without question.
The ugly duckling lamented because he had no proper duck feathers. He considered his voice ugly because he could not quack & his body uncoordinated because he could not waddle. Little did he know what gifts he was born with! Then his whole life made sense & all his inadequacies were reassessed as assets. He found his unique place in the Universe. We have all, in some way, perceived ourselves as ugly ducklings. To find the same happy ending is our task. Befriending our positive shadow is a path to it.
“You’ve had the power all along” – Glinda
We are each as ideal as our untapped potential & as real as the energy with which we strive to achieve it.
Ultimately, life is a battle not so much with our inadequacies but with our belief that we are inadequate.
Our personal work has a transpersonal impact; one small step by a person is one giant leap for humankind.
At times of dark despair or depression, sit with the disturbing feelings with no attempt to dismiss them. Pay attention in a cradling way to the dismal spaces in yourself. Visit these dim and uninviting deserts with curiosity and compassion. Let yourself feel as bad as you feel & stay with yourself in a nonabandoning way. You will notice that something shifts after a while, all by itself. Your lively creative energy will appear in an effortless way. When you simply remain faithful to your own reality, you will evoke the creative forces in yourself that lie just below the lunar surfaces of your psyche.
We enjoy being with our friends not only because of who they are, but also because of who we are when we are with them.
Karma also promises synchronicity – we will meet up with exactly the people & situations that show us how to open to our full potential, both for light & dark.
Evil cannot be created or destroyed. It simply is.
We cannot eliminate evil, only acknowledge it in ourselves & in the world, then deal with it.
Evil is anything that diminishes wholeness or takes advantage of others.
Our work is to acknowledge good in spite of evil, not instead of it.
We were programmed as xenophobes who run from strangers & cling to the familiar. Yet we hear from St. Paul – “Do not be afraid to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”
In the heroic journey motif, the hero is often given help by a stranger or enemy. Prejudice makes people enemies because they are strangers. We project onto them our personal shadow & even the archetypal shadow of the world. Judging others is a way of avoiding confrontation with our own shadow. Prejudice in us makes us strangers to ourselves.
Love integrates; fear separates.
Evil is not meant to be integrated but to be replaced by goodness. Yet, it is never fully destructable.
Our problem is not that our needs were unmet by our parents, but that they are unmourned by us now, in the present.
A cry something like this remains inside us all our lives – “Accept me, care about me, let me be free, see me, hear me, love me.” We scream it in words or in silence during all of our childhood; we scream it in words or silence in every adult relationship. It begins with hope & sometimes ends in fulfillment, sometimes in despair.
Mourning is a healing of memories. It is grief work. By mourning, we let go of the original hurt.
This going on is a combination of self-parenting & openness to healthy intimacy. We do not then seek love, but we drop the walls we erected to keep it out. Love is not pushy; it waits for a welcoming nod.
The paradox of human growth is that we gain our identity through loss.
Rather than believe that their parents are perfect, it is better for children to see limitations in their parents and to see their parents’ sincere attempts to deal with them. An honest self-presentation by parents is the best gift children can receive.
The family shadow is often hidden in the family secrets. The skeleton in the closet is really the shadow in the closet. If the secret is about abuse by someone, they may feel isolated and split off from their own reality.
To have to keep a long-term secret or to be at the mercy of it makes personal integration an almost impossible task.
In the present, imagine yourself sitting across from your younger self & having a talk. Listen to your past self & respond from your present adult self. Be sure to say: “You had no one to help you back then, but now you have me.”
Befriending by others makes us more facile at self-befriending.
True anger usually contains sadness, disappointment & fear – the three components of grief.
A responsibly angry person acknowledges these simultaneous, legitimate feelings and shares them with us but does not blame us for them.
Anger comes from the healthy ego; abusive drama is for the citadel of our inflated ego.
Anger says: “I am angry at you & want you to know it.” Drama says: “I want to get youfor daring to offend me. I want you to suffer for it & change for me.”
True anger is nonviolent. It is respectful, though temporarily displeased, love.
The conscious dimension of the chosen pause opens us in a sensitizing & empowering way. We stop & then find the place in our adult self where sense & sensibility reside & we act from that place with pride in ourselves.
The true self is who we were when we were born , the self that by nurturing & respectful love from our family would have emerged proudly & lived on securely. The false self is the personality we created in response to those who had power over us in childhood. The true self is discovered; the false self is invented. The false self is pose; the true self is poise. The false self blockades knowledge of the true self.
We must have looked up from our crib at our parents & family & home, asking: “Is this the environment in which my deepest needs, values & wishes can bloom safely & abundantly?” The answer we came up with instructed our true self to emerge proudly or to go into hiding until the season was right.
Why would the reactions of parents/family toward us encode such a long-standing cellular program in us? Why would we have bought into their belief-system, to the detriment of our own? Probably because what was at stake was loss of contact, something that we want more than self-emergence.
The adult task is to locate our own freedom & declare it, even without having first been allowed to have it. Our true self may never have been mirrored by another person in childhood. We may have to find it elsewhere today. Sometimes one person accepts us totally, and that helps us to know & trust the lovability of our true self.
When the original abuse came from those who loved us, we are caught in the confusion of either being ourself or acting lovingly for others.
Beliefs that certain feelings are taboo, that we are bad, inadequate, worthless, doomed to fail, keep ringing true inside us no matter how successful we have been; if, because of early conditioning, I believe that nothing I do will amount to anything, I may say “Why bother?” to a creative challenge. Mind you, I have handled such challenges before & I even know, rationally, that I can handle this one. Yet some other voice chimes in & says I cannot succeed, and I give that voice more credence than what I can see the record shows. The “voice” is that of the projected familial shadow smuggled into me & now independently operative as my own shadow of self-doubt.
Te self-negating (or self-supporting) beliefs behind our governing principles remain well-nigh indestructible throughout life.
Do we stop to realize that to ask for authenticity from those who were trained to hide their true self is to ask them to give up their only way of being loved?
The false self is defensive, always on the lookout for the danger of another’s dislike.
A person who is whole & seeks relationship only for mutual enrichment is probably living mostly in his or her true self. Such a person may say: I can only be loved as who I am, not as who you need me to be. Love me as I am & you will find your best needs fulfilled.”
It becomes clear that most of what we thing about our self is a collection of others’ beliefs about us we internalize & made habitual. We are ultimately unknown to ourselves.
Enlightenment, nirvana & my true self emerges when I do not want to be anyone else.
“The part of us that wants to become is fearless.” Joseph Campbell
The key to one part o the practice of befriending the shadow is in the phrase “let opposites stand as they are & reconcile them.”
I hold both facts, dismissing neither, and find a third option, one that holds both & dismisses neither.
Accepting inner oppositions brings us to the realm of the between, where a healing third arises.
They stand, then, not in contention with one another but in cooperative relation to one another. Wholeness happens in direct proportion to this balancing of opposites.
Here is what health sounds like in the integrated shadow world: “I am this and that.”
Unconditional love occurs only in time & between humans, so it has conditions on it from the start.
A loving balance between psyche & circumstances lets us know our work only when we have the power to do it.
Our work is to love unconditionally & at the same time to set firm boundaries on how we show it. This means both unconditional love -and- conditional commitment. “I love you unconditionally in my heart, but you do harmful things that damage people & you refuse to accept or seek help. You are not welcome here until you can be present -and- it can be a safe place for everyone, including yourself.”
We can experience (hold) unconditional love -and- at the same time take care of ourselves & others. This is the healing third that unites, assimilates, consolidates both sides of us.
To mediate any conflict, it is important not to demonize one side, divinize another side.
When we have no boundaries at all, we become vulnerable to being preyed upon. And occasional control & a push by someone we love & trust can open new worlds for us. This may be precisely what it takes for us to make new discoveries about how far we can stretch.
The opposite qualities in human development are not dependency & independency; the opposites are infantile dependency & adult interdependence.
Attachment & detachment are meant to interplay continually.
Something bigger than our ego wants us to be whole.
Fire burns the forest & that releases the growth of new & stronger trees.
The shadow is ultimately meant to contribute to the best interests of the Self; to bring more love, wisdom & healing to ourselves & others.
Repression binds psychic energy. We cannot relate to what we are absorbed by. The work is in making friends with what we hate in ourselves & others & acknowledging what is best in the worst. It is how we awaken our full potential and release our creativity.
Without embracing my shadow, it is as if I am sleeping atop a diamond field while complaining about the smell of coal. The work is to dig deep & go down & find what wants to be found.
When we deny our negative shadow, we deny our positive shadow too.
We experience shifts we do not cause.
Grace is beyond figuring. All the work in the world may lead nowhere & no work at all may yield benefits greater than imaginable.
It takes creativity to find the light side of darkness, the best in the worst.
We are led by the impermanent to the undying.
Faith is located in the imagination, not in the intellect.
Faith itself become an assisting force when it take us beyond dualism to the inner spaces that embraces and is the universe. Then human, divine & nature are one equation.
Idolatry occurs when dualism makes gods in the image of our ego.
The God/Self of wholeness lives within as well as beyond.
Ultimate reality is not a duality but an open unity that has room for all diversity. In the one we discern the many; through the many, we are led to the one.
Our work is to discern; our reward is to abide.
We are not living on the earth; we are part of how it lives. We are living elements of it. We are organs by which the universe survives. Only our misunderstanding & bias make us think it is separate or we are on it as we may be on a concrete floor. Humankind is one of the species of nature, not an opponent or ruler of it.
We make the effort of planting & tending; nature grants the grace of sun & rain. What makes the plant GROW?
Our personal identity becomes immortal when we live out in our allotted lifetime the loving purposes of the Self.
Overall, things will work out in such a way that we will have the chance to work through what happens to us & then look through the resultant debris for some benefit or boon.
As we remain faithful to our own reality, we are one with our universe & we trust that precisely our own tailor-made destiny is unfolding within it.
Attention means pausing.
The work does not consist in evading chaos & confusion, but in staying with it & working with it until it yields renewal.
The negative shadow befriended becomes the positive shadow released. We transform the useless rather than discard it & then its usefulness recompenses us abundantly.
As with pigs, everything about us is of value, no matter how ugly & apparently useless. Only the oink of complaint cannot be turned into gold.
Breathe in deeply, feel yourself totally opening to whatever may now come to you, through you. There is nothing left to say. All has been done. All is immemorially known. In this moment, you are utterly receptive to what is next in your life, utterly trusting of its appropriateness, utterly excited by what surprises it holds in store.