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Kay Nuyens

Recognizing 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 our strength.

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 greatness.

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 ourselves!

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 traits.

  • Tom shows me trust and respect. Itís the core of our relationship.
  • 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, www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/5731

Our Mirror
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. 

Invitation to Greatness Workbook by Kay Nuyens

Kay Nuyens
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)


Visit Kay at Her Website:



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