Updated: Oct 2, 2019
My captivation with the human experience is slightly obsessive if I am being perfectly honest. Anyone that knows me well, takes no offence to my disinterest in small talk or what I like to call the avoidance of being seen. My idea of a good time is getting to know another human's lived experience from the inner dwellings of their psyche. Yikes, talk about full disclosure.
I once attended a gathering and a rather boisterous woman approach me and the other 2 "quiet" people in the room that magnetically found each other saying, "Well, aren't you pretty little wall flowers". Those words hit the play button to my inner dialogue which let me know without hesitation that I wasn't loud enough, funny enough, confident enough, together enough and most importantly...I wasn't worthy enough. It also reminded me that if I looked pretty, I wasn't a complete loss. It took years of self inquiry, coaching, counselling and pushing myself to the edge to discover that I wasn't shy and insecure, I was curious and inquisitive and passionate about what was going on in the inner worlds of everyone around me and simply not that interested in all the pretending and or external representation. I wanted to see the truth of who someone was and at the risk of sounding esoterically cliché, I wanted to see their light even if that meant I had to see their shadow first.
Of course, I didn't always know this about myself and the boisterous lady's comment wasn't truly as dramatic as it seems when I look back on it. It was simply one more reminder that I was ready to get curious. And curious I got as I dug deep in the trenches of self-inquiry to understand and be open to accepting who I was. It took until my mid-thirties to finally see how social drinking was a way that I could be ok with not being me in the presents of others and how creating my own inner and out dramas was a learned strategy to avoid the uncomfortable sensation of not belonging. It took almost as long to stop using food to create the inner drama that helped me avoid fully showing up for life.
So what is the point of this blog you might wonder. The point is, we are all on a journey of being more and more comfortable with discovering who we are at our core and I was hoping that this message would provide an unglamorous picture of why it may be useful to do so. Maybe just pause for a moment and ask yourself if shedding some layers in order to truly get to know yourself is on your to do list. It's kind of a trick question because most of us are too busy trying to change ourselves to care about getting to know ourselves. Even the line "change myself" makes it ironically clear that running from ourselves is simply impossible.
For me, it took a pendulum swing of stretching to be everything I wasn't to the opposite end of only attending and creating relationships and environments that aligned perfectly with who I thought I was. Think of the pristine silence and tranquility of a yoga studio and healing treatment room as an extreme of how I wanted life to be. You can guess how impossible that would be in the real world and how this created a jarring experience regarding life in general. Today, I am no longer trying to find my place or in avoidance of what doesn't align with me because I am learning that I am here (wherever that is in the moment) and through it's denial is where my suffering arrises. Want tranquil, be tranquil. Want peace, be peaceful. Want joy, be joyful.
When you know who you are or at least curious about who you are, there is less confusion about not being enough and the opportunity to develop the confidence to stand in your body, awake in the world before you arrises. You realize that you know longer have to dim your light and blend into the dark corners of the unseen or the shadow of the false projection. When your light is shining by simply living as your truth it allows you to see light all around you and not just in your preferred spaces. At the beginning, it's like jumping off the ledge into the unknown which makes our reptilian brain scream, "danger". But then, you see that your new experience is actually everywhere you look, you just didn't notice through the constricted gaze that shadow allows.
I have a beautiful friend that once told me to stop being so afraid of shining. I told her that I was afraid that others would not "get me" and she responded in the loving way that she always does, "No, my love, you will be even more relatable". I didn't get it at the time but I guess sometimes you just have to trust when the message feels right in the moment. The most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves. If we don't understand ourselves or are too afraid to find out what is underneath the layers built by past conditioning or defence then it makes sense to feel alone or disconnected. When we are who we are, we find that we are less different than we once thought. We find that we are on our own journey and have our own skills, talents and work to do here but we also discover the part of us that is in all others as well. We find our truth bit by bit with more and more courage and more and more light but we also find more connection.
It is this light and this connection that aids us when the shit storms of life pass through. It is this light and awareness of our connections that guide us when we become unskillful and hurt ourselves or another. It says, "Hey you over there in your shadow, the place you have made a comfortable nest, I'll be over here waiting. I'll be here when you've had enough". My light is pretty sarcastic at times, maybe yours is too. Regardless of its persona, it's for you, it is you.
Some days I like my shadow. It's like a well loved pair of yoga pants, you know the linty kind that you would never wear out in public but they feel so intoxicatingly comfortable. Every once in a while someone gets a peak of me in mine and I become super embarrassed and exposed. I used to beat myself up when that part of me was seen but now I simply witness her and take a look around to see if there is any mess to clean up. Most of the time she sits in the bottom of my drawer and one day soon, I'll set her free only to wear out another pair as replacements. Wait, are we taking about the shadow or linty yoga pants?
The journey towards truth and evolving through the layers of our being is part of the joy of being alive. We are always going to have a pair of those comfy pants, or favourite hoodie or stashed away candy bars ;)....until we don't. The releasing of the shadow seems to happens naturally by being present, not through denial or self hatred like most of us have been taught. The one thing I know for sure is that it starts with compassion.