She toils over her plans and strategies. She’s in her bunker, like Winston Churchill during the bombings of London. But she’s less heroic. She’s not leading a nation. She’s not like, “Stay calm and carry on.” In fact, she’s content to scratch her plans out and pretend she working while encouraging us to panic. She’s saying she’s not ready, yet. We’re saying it’s go time. She’s begging for more time. Not exactly begging, though. She ignores us. She’s rather immovable. We’re saying it’s time to stop planning. Time to start acting.
She’s a shadow self.
What do you do when you recognize a version of yourself who is holding you back, and not contributing the way you’d like? Do you berate yourself for not being able to get your act together, after all this time, given all you know to be real and awesome about yourself? Is it working?
Here are a few ideas on how to get the shadow on board:
Recognize she’s not you, she’s an element of you.
A while back, I assumed this aspect of me who was cloistered and scared was who I was. I felt paralyzed, and alone. I told a colleague of mine that I felt like I was in a cave. And I couldn’t come out into the light. This bunker-girl seems like a version of that cave-chick. But, a major shift came for me when I realized that this girl is actually some wounded part of me. It’s not me in that bunker, scared that I wasn’t ready to put myself out there. It’s an inner critic, as a part of me that is scared. That realization made it easier to engage with bunker-girl from a place of love.
From whence did your shadow emerge? Where’d she come from? What does she represent?
Bunker-girl is simply afraid to be “out there.”
Engage with her.
I needed to remind bunker-girl how prepared we actually are. Since she’s not actually working, but sort of filling time (I looked over her shoulder. All that computer work she’s doing? Facebook. She doesn’t post a lot. She’s a lurker.) I need to remind her that her contribution is welcome, if she’s actually going to help us. But mostly I want to tell her that she can come out of the bunker. Her presence alongside us as we put our business out there will make us stronger. We do need her. And she needs to feel needed. She also needs to be pushed a little. She needs to be assured that venturing out into the light will not be dangerous. It will help us do the work we are meant to do.
Usually your shadow needs something. What does your shadow need?
Champion your strengths.
If your shadow has been holding you back, perhaps the awesome aspects of you need to be reminded how awesome and strong they are. Maybe the voice of your strengths needs to get louder. The part of me that was outside the bunker needed to level a combination of stern eye (eyebrow raised) and gentle encouragement on bunker-girl. The real me needed to assert her power, with respect for bunker-girl’s needs and fears.
What is possible if you are able to invite your shadow self to dance? Let us know by sharing your thoughts with the community in the comments below.