Is the ‘shadow effect’ affecting you?
Yesterday I experienced it again. My shadow self. Deepak Chopra poses the question in his teachings and writings that we all have a shadow – that ‘dark’ side of us. It could be uncontrollable anger, some form of addiction, the ‘naughty’ part of us that pushes us to break the rules, or to break ourselves. I believe we all have a ‘shadow self’. When I was growing up it was referred to as the ‘devil’ on your shoulder.
Last year we experienced a logging truck roll over on our road. Fortunately hubby and I were both inside when the power ‘outed’ at 5.35 am and the sky lit up like lightning. Putting one and one together hubby knew what happened and was on the phone immediately. We grabbed our high-vis vests and torches and headed off to see what we could do to help. The driver had hit the gravel and flipped his rig upside down into a paddock, with a power pole precariously dangling off the underside of his truck while he was trapped inside. Blessings abounded that day: that he was alive and walked away; that there was no-one coming the other way; that trucks can be replaced. We experienced the extreme inconvenience along with our neighbours, of having no power on a busy work and school morning. I think about cost of having the local police force, fire brigade, ambulance and power company there to clean up the aftermath. As my husband was speaking with the driver who was in his cab wondering his fate as he noticed he was covered in blood, I thought of his family and what they might be thinking. And what was he thinking as he took that corner? Was he aware of the consequences and impact on the community?
And I come back to our shadow self. What is it that pushes us to push our luck? What is it in us, that when we know we shouldn’t, we still have that extra cake or cigarette or drink? Or we push the accelerator a little faster, in our car and in our lives. What makes us say – I’ll just get this done, it won’t take long and then I’ll be home (and it takes ages). What is it in us that says, there’s no-one on the road, it’s quiet, another few km’s per hour will get me there faster? What is it that causes a person to think I’ll just smash this and take it? Is it the same shadow self that sits within all of us? And what are the impacts on those around us?
I’ve had this thought repeatedly for the last few weeks about how we push ourselves to the limit at times and then wonder why we’re tired, stressed or sick. I’ve thought about the minority in our community whose shadow selves entice them to throw rocks at a window in the hope of some reward from the other side of the glass service station doors. I’ve wondered how a person gets to the point where they think it’s okay to take a weapon and take something from a dairy owner. And for what in the long run? And what are the impacts on those around us? Think about how you talk to yourself at times and push yourself to do things that you know may not have a long-term benefit. And really do we give weight to the impact on ourselves and those around us?
Believing that people (or we) are bad or good doesn’t serve us or our community. We are people. We all make mistakes. We all make crappy decisions and we have to weather the consequences. This is called experience. When we think that we or our fellow human beings are good, bad, evil or otherwise, it’s likely that our thoughts are based on one isolated incident. The children that threw rocks at the service station windows are all someone’s son, brother, grandson, nephew or cousin. Does it make them bad? Or did they simply make an unwise choice that evening? What if it was your family member that had been overcome by their shadow? How would you respond? How does branding that person forever help them? Or us? Think about the last time you did something that you felt you shouldn’t have? How do you respond when your shadow overcomes you? How would you feel if you were branded with a label for that one poor choice?
We all have a shadow self and we all have a choice of how we choose to respond to the shadow within. Choose wisely and take care of yourself and those around you.