George Carter
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Embracing The Shadow

| Wednesday 10th January, 2024

I’ve seen it talked about many times…

Julia Cameron says “virtue is the enemy of the artist”.

Mary Oliver says:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

And the more I live it, the more I find it’s true… we fear our shadow; that dark side of ourselves we would rather didn’t exist. (There’s even some light side of ourselves that we’ve been shamed or ridiculed for – that goes into the shadow too).

I spent years and years fighting with my shadow, pretending it wasn’t part of me, or doing everything I could to kill it off, or suppressing and repressing it until I could only affect me in deeply unconscious and unfortunate ways.

Over the last, maybe six months, I’ve been simply accepting my shadow as part of me.

I’m gay (still talking myself out of this regularly). I’m not always a pleasant person to be around. I have kinks and fetishes (understatement!). I’m more judgemental than I would like. I’m not as compassionate or tolerant as I would like.

But the more I embrace my shadow, the more freedom I find on the opposite pole… I find my life satisfaction rising, depression seeping away, my numerous nervous tics have all but ceased, my creativity and confidence are growing day by day. I’m more willing to be seen, and more willing to connect with others.

Ironically I’m less scared of being “found out” now that I am performing ‘unvirtuous’ deeds than I was when I was white-knuckling a seemingly virtuous life.

It also becomes so clear when others are covering for the shame and guilt of their shadow by projecting virtue into the world. It’s a real pity. But then again, it took me forty eight years before I “got it”… I hope others can get the same benefits for themselves…

Really, there’s nothing to be scared of in our shadow. Sure, it seems like it right now… but begin to accept and embrace it and your life will truly be transformed…

Martin O’Toole puts it perfectly:

Skipping Shadow Work is like skipping “Leg Day”


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