Perspective: Your Shadow Self

Jul 11, 2019

“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with our shadow,” says Fr. Richard Rohr.

Years ago, I attended a leadership workshop where our facilitator, Don, began with asking us to think of a person that annoyed us and to name that behavior. Well, that opened everybody up!

“I hate the way Sally brags about her accomplishments!” “It annoys me when Pete always has to state another point of view to what I’m saying!” “My temperature rises whenever Sam interrupts me to tell about a similar experience!” On newsprint, Don recorded a word or phrase for each annoyance, like “bragging,” “another point of view,” “interrupting,” “not paying attention,” “complaining,” and so forth.

Then Don pointed to research in behavioral psychology that reveals a “shadow side” that we’re not consciously aware of, but some behavior we react to in other people.

Then we wrote the offensive behavior on a card and had it taped to our backs. For the remainder of the day, I was reminded that my shadow side involved slipping into conversations something I have accomplished. On further reflection I realized it stems from a need to be recognized, perhaps competing for attention in a family of seven children. Knowing this, I have become less reactive to others with a similar need and more interested in just listening to them.

Fr. Rohr claims that “It is in facing our own contradictions that we grow.”

So what is your shadow side?

I’m Connie Seraphine, and that is my perspective.