Shadow, Shadow Everywhere

There’s got to be a pony in there somewhere!

So. How are you doing post-election?
Are you grieving? Are you angry? Are you happy? Are you relieved?

Many people I know are still coming out of a state of shock. While others are so elated to be finally seen and heard.

Where ever you are on this spectrum, I invite you to take a moment to look at our human family. There’s enough hurt to go around. Whether you are seeing gloating or grieving, both come from a deep, often unconscious need to feel safe and connected. Some now feel safer than they have in years. Others feel less safe than ever.

Where are you? Are you finding yourself in enemy territory? Have you successfully negotiated past your own reflection in the mirror to see what’s really there? How are you choosing TO BE in the wake of possibly the most contentious US election of all time?

One thing is clear. The call of the shadow work practitioner is to see the mirror for what it is: a portal into healing.

shadow

Just how do we heal something this big? The same way we heal the deep cuts from our past.

Step One: Look Within First
Remember that no matter how much Out There seems to be coming from out there, how you feel about it is all coming from In Here. The meaning you are making comes from within. Some are making a Trump Presidency mean the US will finally be safe from terrorism. Some are making it mean the end of our democracy.

Are we making it mean that it’s all God and can be used for good? Are we ready to use it as fuel for our awakening? If so read on:

Step Two: Name and Feel your Feelings
Are you in shock and anger? Are you in deep grief or despair? Are you broken hearted? Notice what faux feelings might be coming up: betrayed, threatened, bullied, wronged, belittled, manipulated? I have attached the faux feelings list so you can find the feelings under those and the unmet needs to help you move through them. The only way out is through.

SIDE NOTE: If you find yourself afraid or even terrified, this distinction between fear and anxiety may help you. Fear is an instinctual response to imminent danger. Therefor it is only active in the present. Anxiety is about something that happened in the past or may happen in the future. Unchallenged anxiety can bring on the fear response in the nervous system. Some of you may be there now. Anxiety is the one feeling that is largely unhelpful to encourage. If you find you are worrying about the past or the future you can’t be present to anger and grief, which can be felt and released. However, do not confuse feeling and processing anger and grief with splattering it all over Facebook, or sharing post after post that justifies your outrage and anxiety. Instead, step away from the computer. Beat some pillows, howl and scream in your basement, find a group of friends willing to hold a container for you while you express yourself in words or tears (but make sure they are willing to help you move through rather than stoke your enemy-mine experience).  Let the fire burn until it burns itself out – just be responsible and don’t burn anyone else up with it. 
 
Step Three: Look for the I am statement that you are believing in your anger and grief. 
For me it was I am not safe, and I don’t matter. These are old friends of mine. I know them well. Because of my recent work to see myself as the only source of safety in my life, I was able to greet these friends as interior expressions fairly quickly. It may not always be so easy. Just try your best to welcome your “I am” story/belief as it comes out of the shadows.

Step Four: What do you need? 
Our individual needs may be different, but all of us likely need a big dose of compassion right now. This has been hard. Whatever you are feeling it’s okay. Give it space and time, but especially be present to it. Next, in that compassionate space, ask your heart what your specific shadow belief is calling forth. You may need to reconnect with your sense of wholeness, with the Divine within, or with your sense of value and worth. Whatever it is for you, focus on what you need, and recall that you can Source that within you. Give your inner child what he or she needs to the best of your ability – and don’t judge yourself for needing whatever it is you need. Compassion is the key to soothing the nervous system and  meeting the need.

Step Five: Be grateful for the opportunity to practice.
Rarely do we get such a clear moment to collectively practice calling ourselves into healing in the face of great challenge. In times of natural disasters, there are actual safety concerns to be negotiated. The animal body helps us out by releasing hormones that keep us moving as we focus on survival. None of us is facing the imminent threat of dying today. The worry that death and destruction are coming soon as a result of climate change, nuclear war, rogue actors, or militarized police action only happens in our heads, so we get no help from the body. As far as the present is concerned these are imaginary worries – and worry is improper use of the imagination as Deepak Chopra teaches. I am not saying that we shouldn’t take steps to ensure these things don’t happen, or act how we are led when see them unfolding. I am saying we have to make sure our body-mind is not being tricked into thinking they are happening already. We will be more effective if we have our thinking brain on line. Gratitude for the opportunity to practice can have a calming effect the body. Exposing our inner faulty beliefs can work wonders for our sense of well-being. Be grateful that what needs healing is being exposed – within you and in the collective.

Step Six: Who will you BE?
Decide who you are going to be in this situation. Which Q Card qualities will be your shovel as you begin to look for the pony in the pile of manure? It doesn’t matter if your manure looks like whining, sore losers or hateful, racist winners – just choose which qualities will be your shovel. Go ahead and take a minute to think of your list now. Once you have your list of qualities, focus on your body and notice where you have sensations that are at odds with the qualities you wish to embody. For example, right now I just became aware of the tension in my jaw and mouth. After you have found the first place, keep looking until you are aware of three or four places you are holding tension. Take a moment to do this. Next, begin to look for places within you that are in alignment with the Q Card qualities you chose. It could be hard at first. You might have to start with the ends of your hair; they may seem calm. Or your fingernails; they may seem peaceful. Or your toes, they may seem courageous. Keep tracking different sensations in your body as you focus on embodying the qualities you wish to be. I find my eyes are committed. Sounds strange doesn’t it, but it’s kind of cool. Pretty soon you will find you are able to hold many of these qualities in your body, and you become the “I of the storm.”

If that activity didn’t work for you, try imagining yourself in a far-away land where your feel completely safe and secure. Notice how it smells there (is there salty sea air or wild flowers?). Notice the sounds (do you hear waves or birds?). Notice the temperature of the air on your skin. As you feel yourself rooted to the earth, become the I Am presence that you are and allow the Q Card qualities you choose to BE to fill your heart with golden light. Become aware of you as the “I of the storm.”

In that I Am that is you, pause and go within to create a new belief or story for yourself. My new story is: I AM Safe. I Matter. I AM empowered to make a difference in the world!

Step Seven: Listen for an Authentic Action
Once your nervous system is calm and you have claimed your new story and activated your Q Card Qualities, it’s time to ask your heart what authentic action you can take right now that would bring healing to yourself and the world. When your nervous system is calmed and you are connected with your Soul, you can hear the guidance of your Higher Self.  It is from this place, you can have some level of assurance that your choice of action won’t be coming from your wounded child or ego self.

And, hopefully as you take the action, you can keep your nervous system settled, and your heart open so that Divine love can pour through you and into the world. The world needs more love in action.

Just remember: SNAP

Settle your body
Name your feelings
Appreciate the opportunity to practice
Practice being who you have come here to be

Then take authentic action moment by moment. You may be called sign petitions or march in rallies. You might be called to apologize to a friend or family member with whom you unskillfully disagreed during the election. You may be called to volunteer for a politician or organization that you admire. You may be called to be a protector democracy, to be more active in politics, or maybe even run for office. You may be called to sign up for the workshop or training you have been putting off, or offer your healing services more openly.

No matter what you are called to do, the point of mastery comes when we can engage in compassionate action making sure our hearts are full of love, even if we still feel broken-hearted. After all, it’s the heart that is broken open which allows the most love to flow through.

Step Eight: Be Vigilant and Stay Humble
Watch for signs that you are hooked by the external world and no longer sourcing yourself within. In all likelihood, we will have to repeat these steps over and over in the coming days, weeks, months, and years…something that was going to be true no matter how the election turned out! So stay alert and do your best. When you find yourself snagged again, just start back at step one.

Every day offers us a wake-up call. This one may feel louder and clearer than most. Let us do our inner work and then take action as we are guided.

 

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