David Richo, in his book Shadow Dance writes, “The shadow is everything about ourselves that we do not know or refuse to know, both dark and light. It is the sum total of the positive and negative traits, feelings, beliefs, and potentials that we refuse to identify as our own.” David Richo from his book Shadow Dance
The shadow is formed when there is some aspect of ourselves or our inner experience that feels too threatening to continue to include in our conscious awareness and experience of self.
Being in relationship with others can sometimes be difficult. The more vulnerable we are the greater the chance that we will experience strong emotion when thinking about a specific interaction or experience with another that left us feeling threatened or hurt. Many times we find that we have an inability to stop thinking about the event that triggered the strong emotions. We can experience feelings of regret, fear or avoidance that can create tension in our relationship with another.
Sometimes these feelings are a result of our unresolved shadow self.
The 3-2-1 Shadow Process - developed by Ken Wilber and his colleagues a helpful method of becoming aware of and beginning to reintegrate the shadow.
3 – Face It - Using a journal to write in or an empty chair to talk to, describe the person or dream image in vivid detail using 3rd person pronouns (such as ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her,’ ‘it,’ ‘they,’ etc.) Explore the disturbance fully, especially whatever it is that bothers you about it. Don’t minimize the disturbance; instead, use this opportunity to describe it as fully and in as much detail as possible.
2 - Talk to It - Now begin to engage in a dialogue, with this person, image, or symptom using 2 person pronouns (‘you’ and ‘yours’). Talk directly to it in your imagination, either writing the dialogue in your journal, or switching back and forth between your original seat and the empty chair. You can start by sharing your experience or by asking questions: Who (or what) are you? Why do you do ____? What do you need to tell me? Intuitively imagine what the other would say and actually write it down or vocalize it.
1 – Be It . - When you feel that you’ve gone as far as you can with the dialogue part of the process, begin to write or speak in the 1st person (using the pronouns “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine) as the person, situation, image, or symptom you’ve been exploring. Let yourself see the world, life, even you, entirely from their perspective; describe your experience through their eyes. Finally, make a statement of identification with the original quality that you found disturbing: “I am _____,” or “_____ is me.”____? What do you need to tell me? Intuitively imagine what the other would say and actually write it down or vocalize it.
*See if you can just sit in and with the experience of having the qualities or behaviors you found so difficult in the other. Be patient with yourself if you continue to feel resistance or discordance, and do your best to simply “be with” the experience of sitting with this as a part of yourself.