Embracing Our Shadow. ~ Bob Holdsworth

It’s said that what we love in another is what we love in ourselves.

There is a simple beauty in this message as an expression of fully giving to another. To some, it may sound trite or frivolous, but dig deeper and there is an assumption that we do love ourselves.

Is that love unconditional? Or does our inner voice nag at us, telling us about our faults, altering what we do to fit in, holding back our feelings out of fear, and feeling like we are not enough?

It’s easy to love the wonderful parts of ourselves—the fun, clever, strong, kind person of values and strength. But what about our shadow side—those aspects of our thoughts, behaviors, words and actions that we hide from others and from ourselves? Do we full accept those parts of our being?

We all have those dark places. They are part of our makeup. So how can we unconditionally love ourself if we hide from those parts? Unconditional means accepting the person for who they are—the good, the dark and hidden parts.

If we can’t love our self unconditionally, we can never love another in that same way.

When the initial romance and attraction fades, we confront the real person in front of us. We need to embrace that opportunity and go deeper. Sure, it’s easy to run where we feel safe.  We can always point the finger and blame them or something outside ourselves—he/she was this or that, I wasn’t feeling it, it’s not all in our control, or I should have felt a certain way. If we haven’t embraced our own shadow side, why would we want to look at someone else’s?

What is our attitude towards exploring our own frailties, fears, and weaknesses? It’s hard work as our deepest fears threaten our self-image. Seeing another person’s issues brings out our own. Yet that self-image is just a shell of who we really are.

We are the sum of all our parts—the wonderful and the not so wonderful.

Only by exposing shadow selves and examining them will we be able to fully love ourselves and, therefore, fully love another.

That doesn’t mean the shadows go away, but how they affect our relationships is reduced—all with the support of a loving and caring partner. That’s what I want—to live life fully, love fully and passionately.

We find love in ourselves; the other person awakens it.


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Asst. Ed. Jane Henderling/ Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo via legends2k on Flickr}

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Auki Oct 21, 2013 2:28pm

There is a lot of spiritual energy locked-up in personal & cultural shadows. We have to "own," process & integrate this shadow-energy in order to reclaim & channel that shadow-power into more creative, constructive & healing purposes. This requires that each of us be willing to take a deep hard look at our own dark side and the darkness of the commercial pop culture (& war culture) that each of us have bought into to varying degrees.

Looking with clear-eyed honesty at shadows & darkness is inner work that most positive-thinking New Age & Yoga folks are afraid of & unwilling to do. However, if we don't own our shadows by claiming & integrating them, our shadows own us. As Robert Bly said, "we must eat the shadow" to reclaim that spiritual power.

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Bob Holdsworth

Bob Holdsworth started writing and journaling about life and love while opening a safari camp in Tanzania. Back in the USA now, he found a growing spiritual awakening combined with the recognition of his own patterns and attachments served up a rich field to explore and write about. Recognizing that it is a path and not a goal, he hopes writing about his own struggles contribute to the well-being of others. He now lives in northern New Hampshire and loves an active lifestyle.