Your shadow self is the part of you that remains unconscious to you witnessing. How do we witness something or someone? We sense them. We see them, hear them, feel them, touch them, smell them, taste them, experience them. We witness each other and ourselves by being present with who or what is before us.
There is some technique to witnessing (aka observing) without attaching.
So how do you know if you are attaching or observing?
Let’s start with attachment. Our attachments are the parts of us that govern our unconscious/subconscious impulses.
Side note, majority of our attachments come from powerful experiences of negative emotions (aka trauma) or powerful experiences of “feel good” emotions.
For example, let’s say you had an experience as a child where you were bitten by a dog. In the moment all you felt was a throbbing pain from the bite pulsing through your entire hand and arm. Then the smell of your own blood flows through your nostrils. Then you look down and get a visual of your punctured hand and blood dripping everywhere.
Now, let’s fast forward 10 years. You have a fear of animals, especially dogs. So you are automatically cautious around animals and remind yourself to pay very close attention to not getting to close to them. You go over to a friends house and they have a 80 pound dog. This dog looks just like the dog from your childhood. Maybe in the moment you don’t consciously remember that it’s the same kind of dog, you just feel a surge of fear and danger rush over you.
As soon as you feel your shadow self is triggered, your subconscious takes over. You lose all trust in that moment. Your mind is telling you that you are not safe. It’s telling you to take flight or to fight! So you won’t even step through the doorway of your friends house.
Your friend closes the door and goes to put the dog in a cage. Your friend returns to tell you that it is okay to come in now, but you are so overwhelmed with fear and negative emotion that you end up leaving and going home.
On the whole ride home, you feel anxiety, distress in your body, your mind is still screaming DANGER DANGER. You finally pull into the driveway of your home and feel yourself relax a bit. But you notice you are exhausted from the experience and can barely get out of the car to make it inside.
What happened here? Your subconscious fear was trigger and sent you into a “trigger event loop.” In your mind you were unconsciously replaying that traumatic moment from childhood. Even though you never stepped foot inside your friends house, your body feels like it just took a beating! How is that possible?
Because the mind is very powerful. The mind is the part of you that protects you from harm through initiating fear in the body. & whether you experience actual trauma or not in the moment, if we have shadow parts from trauma that are not healed our mind will replay that experience over and over again. That is why people have PTSD, anxiety, OCD, depression, etc. Because they were never able to process what happened to them to begin with.
Just like we can go into a “trigger event loop” without even having a physical experience of trauma. We can also go into states of meditation that allow us to bring those subconscious fears to the surface and face them. (Sometimes we need someone to guide us through these fears) We can create experiences in our head that provide us the opportunity to overcome our fears, to witness our thoughts, to witness our emotions and to witness the behavioral patterns that were created through those experiences.
Most people, accept their fear as apart of who they are. They do not challenge their beliefs that things could be different. Therefore, their fears and traumas play out over and over on a loop. They may find moments of bliss but always find themselves in suffering once again.
We think that it’s outside forces that creates our suffering but this is not the case. No one is in control of how you feel and we have to begin to take responsibility for that. You are never a victim. You are a creator. It was never happening to you, it was always happening for you.
So if you can muster the courage to face your subconscious fears, if you can muster the courage to face your shadow self then you can transcend your old ways of being. You can transcend your old beliefs about yourself, you can transcend your suffering.
The first step to healing? Learn to observe your fears objectively. Without personal attachment to the thoughts and emotions that come up. The thoughts and emotions are not who you are, you are the observing force behind the thoughts and emotions. You get to choose to either respond or unconsciously react to what is before you.
Take the person that is afraid of dogs for example. He doesn’t have to be afraid of dogs forever. He can choose to let go of his storylines about dogs. He can choose to let the emotions flow rather than resist his fears. He can choose to trust again. He can choose to face his fear and flow through it.
So what was once his weakness becomes his truest strength. Because he chose to surrender to the moment that is before him, he transcends his self-imposed limitations and opens himself up to receive different experiences. Through it all, what once seemed so traumatizing.. was actually the key to witnessing who he really is. The key to his happiness.
How about a happy ending people? ☺️ let’s do it.
The man who was once paralyzed by his fear of animals. Always striving to avoid his fears and making sure he never got to close. He now spends his Sunday afternoons working in an animal shelter. Nurturing and taking care of homeless dogs. Dogs were once his enemy and now they are his friends. Dogs were once his suffering, now they are his fulfillment. Dogs once represented his fears, now they represent his love.
He used to come home to an empty house. Filled with memories of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Now he comes home to his best friend Steve. An 80 pound dog that curls up into his lap every night in the recliner, while he watches his favorite tv show. Now instead of facing his anxiety alone, he has a friend to hold him and love him through it.
Every night when he goes to bed and sees Steve laying at the foot of the bed, tears come to his eyes because Steve represents what he has been searching for all along. Love. Steve is the reflection of him choosing to love himself through his fears rather than running from them. Steve is the reflection of him giving himself a chance to be happy again. Steve represents that no matter how “bad” an experience seems, he is the creator of his reality and he gets to choose to surrender his fear, his pain, and let love in again.
Sometimes our trauma is the key to our happiness. We just have to choose to embrace the unknown. We have to choose love over fear or hate. We have to choose, to set ourselves free.