the Shadow of Fear
by Kay Nuyens
Our shadow self is the hidden part of our
personality, our unpleasant qualities that we wish to
hide from the world. Robert Bly, a leader in the menís
movement, illustrates the shadow with a powerful image
of a big bag that we drag behind us. He claims we spend
the first half of our lives putting everything into the
bag, and the second half pulling it out of the bag. I
can attest to that! I spent the first part of my life
fighting my insecurity, and the next half in actually
admitting to it and dealing with it.
Debbie Ford, author of The Dark Side of the
Light Chasers, refers to our shadow as the mask
we wear to hide our authentic self. We seem to adopt
personas or masks to "fit" in the world,
gaining recognition or trying to please others at our
own expense. It helps to understand that we all have
some weaknesses, and yet in our weaknesses can also be
found our strengths. The other side of our shadow is
If there is an aspect of ourselves that we do not
accept, we will continually draw to us people who show
us that very quality. We need to really honor ourselves
when we are courageous enough to look closely. These are
just opportunities to heal our issues. Now I find myself
getting excited when something does trigger me into
judgment. I can look at that aspect of myself, and when
I "get it," I know that it is an opportunity
for personal transformation. Tess Marshall, a friend and
therapist, states it like this: "You spot it.
You got it!" With intention and effort, we
can "get it" and choose to change. Thatís
power! Thatís making the decision to move into our
Let me share a personal story. My husband and I went
to party. Tom is fun and very outgoing. Tom was speaking
to a woman who did not know he was my husband. She was
surprised when she found out that we were a couple. She
looked at me intently and remarked, "You need to
be more like him!" Remaining very centered, I
stated that we have been happily married for thirty
years and our personalities balanced us very well. My
husband, bless his heart, retorted, "Yes, you know,
like the Yin and the Yang." Later that evening, I
found myself reflecting quite solemnly upon her comment.
I began questioning myself about being "too
serious" at times. This inner reflection went on
for quite a while, then I began to laugh out loud. This
womanís statement to me was an opportunity for more
self-acceptance. I had moved back into my feelings of
insecurity! I really like the person I am today. I love
everything about my life. It did not matter what she
thought about me. She had come as a teacher, perhaps as
a test. I approve of me, regardless of whether she
approved or not. It no longer mattered! A quote from
Eleanor Roosevelt states: "No one can make you feel
inferior without your permission."
Mastering Our Leading Role
I no longer have to deny my insecurity, and I no
longer have to judge it. I just acknowledge it and make
another choice. Recognizing my shadow of insecurity is
not self-criticism, itís actually very freeing. Now,
having embraced it, I no longer have to defend it. I
have the power to release the fearful, childish part. I
can assume my inner strength, acknowledging my greatness
and Divine connection. I am secure at my core. I know
who I am.
I invite you to look at the people in your life who
may be mirroring your shadows. These people annoy you,
irritate you, "push your buttons" causing you
to move into judgment. In actuality we are reacting to
our own self-projections. It would be too horrifying to
hate a part of ourselves, so it is easier and safer to
negate a trait in ourselves and project it on another.
We are in fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.
Know that the traits we most firmly deny are actually
parts of us. Otherwise we could just observe some
experiences and not get so caught up in them. We would
not be taking things so personally. Now we can ask, "Why
am I triggered here?! How does this relate to me?"
It takes courage to accept the possibility that we
may have these negative traits in common with people we
dislike. We do, even if only to a very slight degree. Itís
that "unconscious" recognition that is
creating the emotional response. After all, it has been
said that we all have a little bit of Hitler in us.
Debbie Ford states, "If we can own the evil or the
hate in ourselves, we wouldnít need to project it onto
others." Donít be afraid to look inside. With
acknowledgment we can transform.
I invite you to carefully examine the traits of
people who offend you. People who trigger judgments in
us can be our best teachers, if we have the courage to
look at these mirrors. If we can identify that part
within us, own it, and then allow ourselves to disengage
from it, we then move into self-acceptance. Each of
these "negative" traits do have a gift for us,
provided we choose to see it. We always have a choice
how we actually demonstrate these traits.
We have both positive and negative traits within us.
As we realize that we are all things, good and bad,
we must be very compassionate with ourselves. We learn
to give total acceptance of all parts of ourselves,
embracing all of our qualities. They are us. We
then allow our masks to fall away and we can be
What Mask Are You Wearing?
It is important to be gentle with ourselves,
realizing that we also mirror the positive aspects of
traits. We gain valuable insights about ourselves as
become aware of our traits. For instance, I recognize
that I do have a tendency to be naÔve. It has proven to
be very embarrassing, and I have had to learn plenty of
lessons around it. The gift of naivete is my ability to
trust people. Awareness is the key.
What does my reaction to others tell me about myself?
The focus is on me.
These are people who can "push my buttons"
and cause me to be judgmental.
- Steve is too blunt. The question I ask myself is, "Do
I always speak my truth?"
- Nancy is too bossy, authoritarian. She causes me
to look at my lack of assertiveness.
- Pat is loud and attention-getting. Sometimes I
wish I were more spontaneous.
These are people in my life who mirror my positive
- Tom shows me trust and respect. Itís the core of
- Ann is a dependable friend. We will always be there
for each other.
- Mary is caring and gentle. I believe that
sensitivity is gratifying.
I invite you to make a list of people in your life
who "push your buttons."
What are they mirroring for you? It takes courage to
look at that part of ourselves.
I remember a time in my life when I would feel
jealous if someone had more than I did financially. My
sister shared with me an affirmation that I have never
forgotten. "What God has done for others, He
does for me and more."
Then make a list of people in your life who mirror
your positive traits. Know that you recognize their
traits because they are also in you. Affirm your
goodness. If these traits were not in you, you would not
even recognize them in others! Bless yourself with
gentleness on this journey.
We are all in the process of becoming. We do the best
we can in every moment.
The following poem is from Serena Rainbow,
The good you find in others is in you too.
The faults you find in others, are your faults as well.
After all, to recognize something you must know it.
The possibilities you see in others, are possible for
you as well.
The beauty you see around you, is your beauty.
The world around you is a reflection, a mirror showing
you the person you are.
To change your world, you must change yourself.
To blame and complain will only make matters worse.
Whatever you care about, is your responsibility.
What you see in others, shows you yourself.
See the best in others, and you will be your best.
Give to others, and you give to yourself.
Appreciate beauty, and you will be beautiful.
Admire creativity, and you will be creative.
Love, and you will be loved.
Seek to understand, and you will be understood.
Listen, and your voice will be heard.
Teach, and you will learn.
Show your best face to the mirror,
And youíll be happy with the face looking back at you.
©Copyright 2002 Kay Nuyens. All Rights Reserved.
Kay Nuyens spent
twenty-five years teaching and counseling in the public
schools before buying early retirement in 1998. She has
manifested a new, more joyful and fulfilling life for
herself. She is now a certified clinical hypnotherapist,
author, speaker, teacher and a certified JOY
Practitioner, assisting struggling students to feel
successful. Her goal is to empower people to find their
inner connection, healing issues through awareness,
compassion and the power of love. Kay offers private
sessions, personal growth classes and workshops.
Her new book, "Invitation
to Greatness" is a workbook for personal growth. It
contains a treasure trove of exercises for inner
reflection, self-expression, clearing blocks and
creating new patterns. It is a personal journey to
discover your inner healer, your own loving essence.
Learn specific healing techniques to gain emotional
freedom and peace of mind. Discover how YOU can create a
successful life script! (www.changingfocus.net)