Many people believe the way to experience more happiness is to increase all the “good parts” of themselves and decrease all the “bad parts”. And that’s just not true. These labels are just constructs that help our ego to categorize the behavior + attributes of ourselves + others. This mindset is actually what holds us back from being fully integrated – which in turn deters us from experiencing that sustainable happiness we are all going for.

Looking at your pain (and yes, feeling it) sets you free.

Knowledge is power.

The more you know – the more you understand.

These are key principles that help to illustrate Carl Jung’s theory of shadow integration where the shadow is the part(s) of ourselves we reject as wrong, bad, inappropriate + unacceptable. Sustained happiness + mastery over our thoughts + emotions cannot happen until we bring the unconscious into the conscious. The dark into the light. Essentially -> Integration.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”

Carl Jung

Our instinct is to distant ourselves from that which causes pain or is “bad”. As kids we learn the fire is hot and to stay away from it. When it comes to people in our lives who bring in negativity, or circumstances + scenarios that bring us down – this is incredibly healthy: in fact it’s self-preservation! And because these are externalized experiences – we CAN choose to distance ourselves from this type of pain.

But our memories? We can’t run from those. They are an internalized experience housed inside of us yet we still try to run away, avoid + deny them. And NO judgement – no one wants to feel pain, but in doing this we are essentially rejecting apart of ourselves. We are afraid that if we go and “touch that pain” it will envelope us, take us down, or worse – we will BECOME that which we are trying to avoid. We’re fearful that we’ll find a broken person and if anyone saw this dark, broken, messy side of us they would never love us the way we deeply desire. 

So we hide our darkness from other people —- we hide it from ourselves.

And here’s the kicker: the time + energy we expend running, avoiding and denying something is actually MORE painful that turning around to face it. What we don’t understand is that past pain needs to be acknowledged + felt so it can be released.

I know it’s counter intuitive but take it from someone who is continuously looking at her shadow (this work just keeps going 😉 !!!) Doing this opens up precisely what has been holding us back from experiencing all the joy + connection we so desire.

Our instinct to hide from our shadow (so we don’t “scare away” those we want to be closest to) in actuality is what keeps us from that connection we desire.

Have I piqued your curiosity? Want more? A good read would be The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford {Free on Audible}.

I also have some exercises I use with clients I’ll be happy to share – just email me 🙂

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