Taming Your Shadow Self

A friend calls with some big news. Her husband surprised her with a week-long cruise for their anniversary, and her son was just accepted at that Ivy League university, with a full scholarship . While you’re genuinely happy for her, you feel guilty that you’re also a bit…jealous. Does that make you a terrible person?

Not at all. It just makes you human.

According to Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung, everyone has a “shadow side” which we usually relegate to our subconscious. All emotions we label “negative” are embodied in this shadow – fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, judgment, anxiety, regret – anything that doesn’t radiate from a place of love.

But far from being something we need to suppress and pretend it just doesn’t exist, our shadow can actually help us think, say and do some positive and creative things.

That jealousy and guilt that welled up when you heard about all your friend’s fantastic luck – what was the thought you had the moment before you felt the full impact of that emotion? Was it, “Why doesn’t my spouse make a big deal about OUR anniversaries?” Or maybe, “ALL the good stuff happens to her and never to me!”

Before you have a feeling, you first have a thought. Any time a disempowering thought slinks up from your shadow side – and it WILL on occasion – be ready to replace it with a positive and powerful one. For instance, “I’ll suggest we do something special on OUR anniversary” effectively balances both the envy and guilt, and can spark feelings of excitement and anticipation. You just switched into a creative mode where you’re envisioning where you’d like to go on your next big anniversary. You’re happy for your friend, but more excited about how your own celebration will enrich your life, and your relationship. And you might never have even considered this adventure without that brief encounter with your shadow side.

Any time you’re able to mindfully monitor your emotions, and consciously replace thoughts that trigger fear-based feelings with proactive ones, you have made huge strides on your spiritual path. Celebrate this new awareness with some nurturing and fun spiritual rituals. Light a candle to represent your new enlightened awareness. Bring a bit of beauty into your home with flowers, a pretty stone or crystal, or a piece of art. Take a “gratitude walk” outside, and breathe in the beauty and balance of nature.

Celebrate yourself with a visit to an Optimum Health Institute mission in San Diego or Austin, Texas to nourish and balance your body, mind and spirit. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

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