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The Shadow

The secret of confidence.

You may be lonely, but you are never alone. Inside each of us is a second self, another being. The great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, named this hidden part of us the Shadow. The Shadow is an archetype—a universal motif or image built in to all human beings. You can no more get rid of this inner Shadow than you can avoid casting an outer shadow when you’re in sunlight.

For most of us, that creates a problem, because the Shadow appears as the sum total of the weakest, most flawed, inferior, or even disgusting parts of yourself. It’s everything you don’t wish to be, but fear that you are. It doesn’t matter how rich, beautiful, or famous you are; as long as you fear that people can see your Shadow, you will be insecure.

We deal with this insecurity—in public speaking, at social events, in confrontations with authority, etc.—in exactly the wrong way. We see our Shadow as a source of humiliation that we try to hide—usually through some kind of perfectionism. The counterintuitive truth is that when we reveal the Shadow, when we give in to its imperfections, its nature changes. It becomes a source of creativity and confidence.

I discovered this by accident years ago when I gave my first seminar on the material that eventually became The Tools. I was irrationally scared that I would forget what I wanted to say and I’d draw a blank. So I wrote out my address word for word on little cards—I was going to give a perfect performance. Instead, the cards made me more nervous. The first half of the seminar was a self-conscious disaster.

At the break, I was feeling too humiliated to go on, but then a small miracle happened. In my mind’s eye, I saw a scrawny, 14-year-old version of myself. But he wasn’t terrified the way I was—quite the opposite. He was not only confident, but he was also determined to help me. Probably because I was too weak to resist, I felt myself pick up his energy and advance to the microphone. I put aside my little cards. For the next two hours, I spoke without fear—and without notes. It ended in a standing ovation.

I knew I had just seen—and felt—my Shadow. I also knew Jung believed you could integrate the Shadow into your personality by using dreams and active imagination. As brilliant as this was, it didn’t come close to capturing the experience I had just had. I had felt a force that allowed me to express myself with a confidence I’d never felt before. Clearly, there was much more to the Shadow than I’d dreamed.

The key to my transformation occurred when the Shadow approached me at the break; at that moment a bond was forged between us—no longer two separate beings, we became a unit, speaking with one voice. I had accepted my Shadow with all its imperfections. The reward was an endless sense of flow—the feeling that what I was saying came from a larger, deeper dimension that had its own truth.

There was still a problem. The bond I’d felt at the seminar seemed a matter of chance. The next step was to figure out how to make it a matter of choice; to gain the ability to create that bond—and the confidence that went with it—at those moments when it was most needed. That required a tool.

The name of the tool is Inner Authority. When I bonded with the Shadow at the seminar, I immediately gained a sense of authority based not on the approval of the audience, but on my acceptance of myself, hence “Inner Authority.” It’s an authority no one can take from you. Others feel it instantly and are attracted to it (usually because they don’t have it themselves).

In the next post, we’ll explain how to create the bond with your Shadow and how the tool works.

-Dr. Phil Stutz

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