Darkness Versus Shadow

Darkness Versus Shadow by Abby Wynne | #AspireMag

Many spiritual teachers relish working with shadow; they host shadow workshops and work with shadow behaviours. However, as I’ve already said, once we know about these behaviours, they’re not shadow anymore. We have darkness within us; darkness exists and lightness could not exist without the balance of darkness. It is up to those of us who strive toward the light to work with our darkness, whether it be in the shadows or not. This makes us fully aware and fully responsible for all of our behaviours at all times. It sounds like a lot to ask for, and yes, this is the hardest work of all. 

I believe that there are two driving forces we are subjected to: one pushes us toward death, and the other pushes us toward life. Depending on our background, experiences, and outlook in life, we may find that we are more on one side than the other, but we are all subjected to both of these forces from within. How these forces manifest themselves within us depends on our strength of character and our determination to heal ourselves. 

There are many facets to the dark side of us, just as there are many to the light side. We see some of these dark facets in people who have overinflated egos, arrogance, pride, selfishness, hunger for power, and greed. When given free rein, that’s where true evil resides. People who take pleasure in hurting other people exist, and we would be fools not to recognize this. Some of these people are too far gone to return to centre. 

Shadow is a real thing. Artwork without shadows is very two-dimensional, as the figures lose depth and substance, seeming artificial in a way. Likewise, there will always be things you don’t know about yourself, which are your true shadow aspects. These aspects are not always unwanted or “bad” behaviours—they could also be aspects of you that are maturing and ripening for your discovery when the time is right. 

Other people may be able to see things about you before you do. For example, I had a client who for years didn’t realize that he was gay and when he eventually did, it took him a long time to accept it. Once he was ready to reveal his true self, he very hesitantly came out to his friends and family. They shocked him with their reaction: “We were waiting for you to say this for years!” Can you relate to this with something in yourself? 

Isn’t it interesting that the opposite of shadow is reflection? Reflections are what we and other people see. However, when something is in the shadow, we only get a sense that it is there; when something is in the darkness, we may not know that it is there at all. Only when we bring the light of our awareness into the shadow can we see it, and if the only thing there is the darkness itself, the light dissolves that away. 

Getting Clear 

Before we start, I want to be clear about where I am coming from for the work of this chapter. 

There are parts of us that we know about and don’t like. I prefer to call these difficult or unwanted behaviours rather than dark aspects of us. There are also parts of ourselves we don’t know about so we don’t know if we like them or not: these are our shadow aspects. Spiritual and personal development teachers have developed a spectrum that places shadow behaviours on one side and light on the other. This arrangement insinuates that shadow behaviours are bad ones, but they’re not. They’re part of what makes us whole. There are always going to be opposite ends to a spectrum. Our concern is not about the absolute dark and light at each end—it’s about how to stay in balance. 

The battle we have with the forces of light and dark within explains why we can end up attacking ourselves and wrecking the good healing work we have done. Just as we need to balance masculine and feminine, we need to balance dark and light, shadow and reflection, death force and life force. 

It must also be said that we go through periods of our lives that seem to be in darkness, where everything seems to go wrong, but we come out the other end stronger and better for it. And we have periods of lightness where everything seems to be going well, but they do not last forever. Just as winter turns into summer and back to winter again, just as day turns into night and then comes the day, we are part of nature and move within cycles of darkness and light. How the cycles affect you depends on how robust you are and how much work you have done on yourself. Everybody is different. 

I cannot emphasize enough that doing your inner work is the answer to getting through these dark cycles. You start to like yourself more, you become a friend to yourself, and your attitude both to yourself and to others becomes more compassion- ate. You begin to trust yourself more and show yourself more of yourself. This is the creation of the best healed self, the authentic, congruent self, which will prevail in challenges. It is therefore important to do the work thoroughly. As people go deeper inward, they tend to avoid the parts they really dislike or are afraid of. Though those parts are in darkness, they are still there and still need to be healed.  

© 2019. Abby Wynne. An excerpt from Heal Your Inner Wounds: How to Transform Deep Emotional Pain into Freedom & Joy. Reprinted with permission from Llewellyn Publications. 

Abby Wynne About Abby Wynne

Abby Wynne is a bestselling author and one of the world’s leading lights in the field of Shamanism, Psychotherapy and Energy Healing. Her newest book is “Heal your Inner Wounds” published by Llewellyn Worldwide. Abby's powerful teachings empower you to do your inner work with strength and courage, whilst creating a structure and foundation to guide you. Learn more at www.abby-wynne.com