My entire life, I’ve distanced myself from people. I kept family at arm’s length. Even my closest, oldest friends were held back from knowing all of me.
This wasn’t consciously done on my part, though. Feeling totally at peace and fulfilled when I was alone, I believed I was connecting with people in my life as much as was right for me. But a few years ago, the truth of it all came out.
As I started healing other areas of my life and peeling back the layers of my heart and soul, I noticed a funny thing happening.
I had this yearning to be with people more often. And I had a strange, uneasy feeling more frequently when I was alone. This was new. What was that about? I would eventually realize that this was loneliness. I’d never felt it before, so I had no idea what it was!
Through healing, I realized I invited in a lot of other people’s drama and trauma that I dressed up as connection. I helped them through their “stuff” and called that exchange connection. Of course, it was not real. I came to see that what I called “connection” was simply an illusion I created to keep me feeling safe. If I kept my distance then it was less likely I would get hurt, disappointed or betrayed.
Of course, that wasn’t true. And I did get hurt. Numerous times. But we are here to experience the human range of emotion and, no matter what barriers I put up to prevent that from happening, life would find a way to ensure I had the experiences I was supposed to have.
I knew it was time to decide. Would I allow myself to become more open and vulnerable with everyone at the risk of getting hurt or hold myself at a distance and feel this loneliness for the rest of my life?
I chose to open up my heart. But how would I do that?
First, I had to accept this shadow aspect of myself that has followed me my entire life. In this case, the shadow was letting go of controlling possible abandonment and rejection.
What the heck are shadow aspects?
We all have them. It is an aspect of yourself that you feel you must hide from you, your family, friends and the world in order to gain love and acceptance.
The key to wholeness is to accept those parts of yourself that you would rather forget existed.
It is pretty easy to get to a point where we express the parts we love about us. The real effort comes from learning to love what we hate.
Step 1 is to identify those parts of you that you don’t like and are afraid to tell anyone else. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- What traits or qualities about you do you dislike?
- What traits or qualities do you have that make you feel ashamed?
- What is something about you that you would be mortified if other people knew?
Step 2 is to take those answers and list how they show up in your life on a daily basis.
- What situations come up and how often where you try to hide a part of you from people?
- Where are you out of integrity with yourself to hide these facts you dislike so much?
- Are you frequently lying to yourself or others, being disrespected or disrespecting people in an effort to hide?
- What feelings or actions are you suppressing to continue to hide shadow aspects?
- Where are you not standing up for yourself in your life because doing so would mean “outing” a part of you that you think others would not accept?
Step 3 is to write a worst-case scenario, best-case scenario and most likely scenario for each answer from Step 2. Really sit with the answers to these scenarios. Let the feelings for each wash over you. How does it feel? Often what happens is there is a shift in your perception of some of these shadow aspects and the power they hold over you.
Don’t skip over step 3. There is real power in this exercise. Often, most of our stress and anxiety come from building things up in our minds that will never come to pass. Once you see it on paper in front of you, it is easier to get a handle on the situation. Developing non-attachment as a way of approaching all situations in your life can give you freedom from this.
Now obviously, not all of these will shift easily and more peeling back of your layers will be needed which is exactly what I do with my work with clients. But even the slightest shift creates space for more movement to happen.
It’s like when you are trying to pay off debt. You start with the smallest bill and, pretty soon, you have an excitement about paying off the bigger debts.
This is similar. It is easier to get momentum going when we feel as if we’ve had a win, no matter how small it is. Try speaking your truth on the smaller issues and see where that leads. Once you gain some confidence in that area, it will lead to greater truths being spoken.
It is necessary to accept your shadow aspects in order to feel whole, fulfilled and at home in your own skin. Every time you suppress the truth of who you are, it slowly chips away at your spirit.
You will see that the more you speak your truth, the happier you will be and the more you will rely on your inner compass to lead the way.
And it will be true and clear and take you in the right direction every time.
Hey, I have a question for you…
Are you a woman who would love a little more support in your life?
If yes, come join us in The Ladies’ Room!
It’s a private space I’m creating for women only where we can connect, support
and laugh with each other to up the happiness factor in our lives.
We’re growing a movement over there and would love to see you!
Curious? Click here to get into The Ladies’ Room.