Welcoming the Shadow Self
You are not one but many, a stunning constellation of selves, more than one can count, some devolving and disappearing, others maturing, evolving, and emerging for the very first time. The fact that you have a single body can easily distract from the reality of your multiplicity. But who would you be without the arc of your identities: a playful self, your pensive self, the lover self? Too many selves lay dormant within, undisclosed personas shadowed by ignorance or, more often, imprisoned by purposeful planning to present only a certain self to others, learned through years of habituation in a particular milieu, typically an environment of work or family, a self that pays homage to the cultural norms of that milieu in order to accord with what is proper, safe, and productive. But your shadows have shape and reality; they, too, long for freedom declaring “I AM” as much as anything or anyone else in this world. There is strong shadow where there is much light, as Goethe observed, and make no doubt about it, you are beautiful and brilliant.
Welcoming the shadow self begins with nothing more than a little loosing of the reins of control. Giving yourself time, space, and permission to be, act, and speak without forethought, indeed, without much mentation at all, instead creating a clearing for the heart and the intelligence of your body can be a tremendous act of self-compassion. All too quickly, then, you begin to see there is not only a shadow self but selves shadowed for far too long, rejoicing as they step forth from their prisons, unsure at first if they are allowed to join the conversation. These doppelgängers require your kindness and invitation. They are vital to your awakening.