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Embrace Your Shadow To Reclaim Your Lost Parts

Did you know that we all have parts of ourselves that we gave up so that we would be loved and accepted by our parents? 
Find out what they are and how they impact on your relationships.

The main function of our parents is to nurture us through our various developmental stages and to meet our basic human needs.

Another job they have is to socialize us so that we will be accepted into the world. Family, community and beyond. Which include schools, religious communities and peer groups.

When we are not adequately socialized and are repressed by those around us we give up parts of ourselves to survive . Those parts that we have given up are known as our shadow. To live a life of joyful aliveness it is essential to embrace your shadow to reclaim lost parts.

There are rules and expectations about what sort of behaviour is acceptable. Some are to be encouraged and supported. Others that must be discouraged or extinguished. They vary not only from culture to culture but from family to family.

These rules and the way the messages of socialization are delivered impact our development. They influence our capacity to express ourselves. through thinking, feeling, acting, sensing and the core energy of being.

If the messages are accepting of the expression of our aliveness, and guide us in appropriate ways to channel that expression, our energy to that particular area of our functioning stays intact.

Examples of accepting messages are as follows:-

Through Thinking

  • “It’s OK to express your thoughts” “
  • It’s OK to be creative” “
  • It’s OK to think”

Through Feeling

  • “It’s OK to show feelings”
  • “It’s OK to express all your feelings”
  • “It’s OK to exaggerate

Through Acting

  • “It’s OK to move”
  • “It’s OK to dance, run, play”
  • “It’s OK to be strong”

Through Sensing

  • “It’s OK to feel sexual”
  • “It’s OK to touch”
  • “It’s OK to enjoy your body”

Through Core Energy

  • “It’s OK to be” “
  • It’s OK to be you”
  • “It’s OK to feel alive”

Repressive messages, give us the sense that we cannot have that part of ourselves and still be loved and accepted. Then we must choose between wholeness and acceptance. Sometimes these expectations are clear, overt and verbally taught, like the “don’t” messages:-

“Don’t think for yourself” “Don’t assert yourself” “Don’t show certain feelings (anger, sadness) “Don’t show off, “don’t make a noise” “be careful” “don’t touch” “don’t enjoy your body” “don’t show your body” “you’ll go blind if you…..”

More often than not these expectations are implied and covert. They are taught through modelling (imitating the norms of the family/culture). These messages may be harder to erase from the fabric of our belief systems. They often appear in the way we believe people should act.

Unconsciously we learn that to be loved and accepted we must disconnect from certain aspects of who we are (giving up playfulness, expressing thoughts etc.). Some people choose to risk alienating their family, peer group and community. They remain true to themselves and express their wholeness. When they do this they risk losing love and acceptance.

In conforming to family and societal rules, we create a lost self. A self whose aspects of thinking, feeling, acting, sensing and being go underground and under-develop.

Here are some examples:-

  • The little boy who was told not to cry, “to be a man” will grow into a man who cannot show his feelings 
  • The little girl who was told “It’s not ladylike to show anger” will suppress expressing discontentment as an adult
  • The child that was told “don’t think for yourself” will find it difficult as an adult to be confident enough to make decisions and to express opinions.

Because we crave our original wholeness we miss these parts of ourselves. In searching for our Imago match, a person who carries these lost parts will initially be very attractive. We may even refer to them as our other half.

Whilst we are at first attracted to these traits, after time we may come to dislike and despise them in our partner. This is because unconsciously we recognize that this is a trait that we deny in ourselves and had to give up so that we are acceptable to our caregivers.

If we want to have happy, joyful relationships we need to consciously take steps to reclaim our lost traits. To accept that they are a part of ourselves which we have previously denied or disowned.

Oftentimes a relationship will end because we are frustrated that our partner is “not like me”. We can change the relationship, still attracting a partner who has traits that we have lost and we then journey on the same cycle over and over again. In summary; We have it, we lose it, we miss it, we meet it, we marry it and then we try to kill it!

Imago Relationship Counselling provides the structure and safety to help a couple uncover their lost self. Visit my Relationship Counselling services page to find out more.

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