Nadine Casemore - Shadow Self
Recently most of my conversations have been surrounding the concept of meeting, interpreting, and acknowledging mine and other people’s shadow selves in a way that is constructive and meaningful without the presence of denial or paralyzing fear.
This is arguably one of the most difficult concepts for me to understand as I consider myself an “intellectual” and place a lot of power on my human will to behave and feel the way that I want to. In the moments where I do come face to face with my shadow self, usually during a time of great adversity or struggle, I am often humbled by my inability to exact my will and embody the morals and values that I so often profess and take great pride in. This deficit between my value system and my shadow self is the grey area in which I ultimately die; spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise. It seems incomprehensible that I would at times be incapable of acting or feeling the way that I want to, particularly when I’m living in a realm in which my entire life is contingent on my ability to control and manage my circumstances.
Recently I have had a small but incredibly profound breakthrough regarding these issues. Perhaps my shadow self and my value system can coexist and actually compliment each other in a way that is harmonious and powerful, if I can muster the strength to acknowledge and understand how the shadow self has served and continues to serve me if I am able to harness its’ power. Generally speaking, when I come across a behaviour or feeling that seems intoxicating and I begin to employ my all encompassing tunnel vision, I often reel away from it in fear of where it will lead me. I shame myself for even considering such a behaviour or idea, and I immediately leap into a plan of action that is completely opposite of whatever has presented itself as a means of redeeming myself. This thought process, although innocent and self-preserving, inherently creates the perfect breeding ground for internal conflict and ultimately, some kind of outburst in the near future which will likely be far more damaging than acknowledging the initial incident. Through this thought process, that either things must be “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”, “pure” or “evil”, I am creating this internal turmoil that ends up creating the complete uproar and debauchery of finally snapping and breaking free, which typically looks like honouring the shadow self, the part which I have refused to acknowledge out of fear.
What does acknowledgement look like?
For me, it has looked like investing more time in activities such as meditation and prayer, specifically focused on whatever is that I am too afraid to look at. These activities have little to do with religion or even a concept of God, but more as a symbolic, physical representation of surrender to the spirit of the universe. Through letting go of the reigns of my own inner world, I feel less inclined to judge myself or feel that it is my responsibility to constantly be on alert for any thought or behaviour that is “bad”, and become more inclined to bare witness to my thoughts and assess them from the intellectual level that I love to claim my own. While I still feel that it is my responsibility to police myself and be the judge and jury of everything that is me, I am an inmate in my own self-constructed prison. It’s not to say that I do whatever I want, whenever I want without consequence, but I find that my inner-dictatorship has ultimately only availed me a sense of disconnect and great disappointment.
Perhaps I was not placed on this earth to be the most morally sound individual. Perhaps I was not placed on this earth to to embody the devil. Perhaps I was placed on this earth to be myself and use every asset and defect to my advantage to serve the people around me, and perhaps that is the case for you as well. I no longer believe that live is about happiness or success, but finding your purpose within all of those things. Without acknowledging my own darkness I will never be able to truly experience compassion, love, understanding, and humility. Without acknowledging myself as a whole, at my best and my worst, I can never be sure what I have to offer.