Linda: We may find it helpful to befriend our shadow when we discover that these figures aren’t completely bad as we might at first have assumed. When we come into a relationship with them, we lose some of our prejudice against them and find that they have a delightful and useful side that we can use to our advantage. It is only when we investigate our dark shadow characteristics more closely, that we are surprised to find that every single shadow figure has a gift in their hands. No matter how dark and scary these figures may appear at first, if we approach them with curiosity and a desire for understanding, we can find their gold nugget of redeeming value.
Some examples are: The golden nugget inside arrogance is self-confidence, inside bitterness and grudge-holding is a refusal to overlook injustice, inside clinging is loyalty, inside being controlling and manipulative is taking leadership, inside cowardice is caution, inside hostility is assertiveness, inside selfishness is self-nurturance, inside submissiveness is cooperation, etc. It may appear, at first glance, that your shadow figure does not have anything positive about it, but they all do. Keep looking until you find some aspect that does serve you in your life.
Consider the following list of dark shadow figures that you may be identifying in yourself to find some redeeming value in that figure. Do not restrict yourself to this list. If there is a dark shadow figure that you are aware of that you have not yet found some redeeming value, make your best effort to identify that golden quality now.
We can eventually learn to respect and love even those parts of ourselves that we have found to be loathsome and detestable. We can learn to appreciate ourselves and our partner for things that we previously sought to destroy. Such inner peace and harmony with others is the ultimate value of shadow work. In engaging in it we become more compassionate, loving, and accepting, replacing judgment with tolerance, anger with acceptance, aggravation with patience, and fear with love.
Stay tuned for Part 3 with an example of a couple that started out being possessed by their shadows and was able to step out of the possession to go on to have a fruitful dialogue.