Rekindling Our Own Inner Light
by Dancing with Our Shadows
"Don't be selfish. It's not nice to talk about that. Stop behaving like a show-off. People won't like you
if you keep that up".
How many of us got these messages when we were kids? One I heard often was a German idiom -- "Ich kann Lob stink (self-praise stinks)" -- that was used to tell me that talking about how good I felt about my accomplishments was bad manners.
The impact of such messages can be devastating on a developing psyche prior to the time when a strong self-concept and self-esteem are formed. The consequences of believing such well-intentioned parental dictums haunt us into adulthood and throughout professional life.
In my work as an alternative wellness coach and flower essence practitioner, I find a number of remedies useful for individuals struggling to overcome these early injuries to self-confidence. Black-Eyed Susan, Black Cohosh and Cerato can be particularly helpful individually or in combination when psychospiritual healing and release from the buried-self shadow are needed.
Black-Eyed Susan releases long standing feelings of being put down (emotional abuse) or having one's enthusiasm quashed in childhood (emotional repression), so that the vital force can blossom in the recognition of what is authentically praise-worthy. This remedy brings into awareness these wounded and rejected parts of the self (the shadow), and lends courage to remember and release.
When re-traumatization occurs through negative, self-blaming talk -- as when adults repeat the messages told to them as children as if those beliefs are true and unchangeable (self-rejection) -- Black Cohosh is useful in confronting these beliefs for the hurtful illusions they are. It also helps with coming to terms with learned psychological defenses that may be perpetuating the emotional injury done to the psyche (vicious cycle of destructive energy). Healing cannot occur without this part of the process of shining light onto the shadow.
Cerato promotes self-trust, which is sorely needed when we've spent years with damaged self-confidence, and need to heal by dealing with our inner demons. Its vibrations can facilitate developing strong resilience, and promotes the ability to rely on one's own judgment, which assists in standing up to our inner foes.
How Parental Comments Become Dark Demons
These broken record loops become some of the demons dwelling in the dark corners of our wounded self.
In order not to be the dreaded selfish, we have difficulty achieving a healthy sense of self.
Believing that some things aren't suitable for polite conversation, and that openly acknowledging our
accomplishments is rude, limits our range of self-expression and authenticity -- and has disastrous effects
on the ability to be successful at things like networking. Obeying the admonitions to not show off keeps us from competing and excelling when it matters most, such as in growing a business.
In short, these messages potentially damage the young psyche so that we learn to push our most genuine self into the shadows of our lives, in order to be acceptable and accepted. The problem is, we often never learn to accept -- or be acceptable to -- ourselves.
This is a problem, because many of us will unconsciously generalize from the parental messages and the specific situations they referred to, to a more wide-spread belief about ourselves that we are essentially not good enough. This can haunt us our entire lives.
When the illusion that we are essentially not good enough forms the dark sectors of our self-construct, we live our lives to prevent those shadows from ever being invaded by the light. These disowned bits of authentic goodness suffer from lack of psycho-spiritual nutrients. Sometimes they develop into detrimental coping mechanisms designed to keep others from seeing our "not good enough-ness." Sometimes we don't even see that we're doing this to ourselves.
Use the Dark to Find the Light
I love the Winter season, with its abundant darkness and nearly universal symbolism of the return of the Light. The Dark is where things gestate, waiting to be born. A new self-concept, braver self-confidence, stronger self-esteem, more solid self-acceptance -- these can develop when we intentionally dance with our shadow demons.
The Dark is also a metaphor for the realm of our unconscious mind. The dance is done to the tune of introspective self-reflection, which in practical terms may be something like focused journaling on a dark winter's evening to bring into awareness how these common statements from our family of origin became the operating rules we've tried to live by.
For example, Sally's controlling message was: Nice girls don't hog the spotlight. Sally incorporated that
into a belief that it was bad to get attention for the good things she did. As a result, she under-valued her
experiences and felt trapped in low-wage/high stress jobs where she couldn't possibly live up to her full potential.
In focused journaling a few winters ago, Sally (at age 38) explored what she wanted being a nice girl to look like, what it cost her to live out of the spotlight, and how it might be possible to enjoy a little limelight as an adult. After journaling through the winter, Sally rewrote her script to read: Nice girls share their inner light and delight when others shine. She now invests her emotional energy in believing that and sharing it with others.
Michael's demon statement was we don't see ourselves as others see us, which was said as a criticism and had the impact of teaching him to believe there was something wrong with him that others would eventually see and reject him for. In therapy he talked about a fear of being found out, but could never discover what awful thing was being hidden. Using insight meditation to dance with his shadow, he was given two transformative thoughts. First, most people are too busy looking at themselves to be bothered with caring about what might be wrong with him, and second, it wasn't anything bad that was hidden, it was the good that he wasn't seeing. Michael reframed his script to read: When I shine light on the good in me, others see it too.
Rekindle Your Own Light
Here's a process I use with my clients who are working on befriending the dark that you can try at home:
1. Identify the belief statements that control you.
2. Use introspective techniques to examine the beliefs, such as journaling about the various parts of each belief, insight meditation, or exploratory discussion with an observant friend, partner, or professional helper.
3. Boost access to your unconscious with flower essence remedies like Black-Eyed Susan for insight, Black Cohosh for dancing with the shadow, or Cerato for self-trust. Try these one at a time for a month, 4 drops at waking and bedtime, before switching to the next remedy. Or make a combination remedy of the three, adding a toner to the mix such as Angelica to help feel supported and protected, Self-Heal to promote confidence in one's abilities to transform the demons, or Yarrow to strengthen energetic boundaries. (Use just one of these toners, not all three.) I recommend using a pendulum to determine the number of drops of each remedy to be used in the combination.
4. Rewrite the limiting beliefs to reflect self-confidence and personal empowerment.
5. Plan ways to act according to your new belief each week. Risk yourself a little more each time until
the new belief is second nature.
It's by dancing with your shadow in the dark times that you befriend your highest self-interest, and create your own enlightenment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deah Curry, PhD, holds a doctorate in psychology from Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco, with a concentration in consciousness, spirituality and naturopathic healing. She is currently an alternative wellness and creative confidence coach using flower essence remedies. For details about her practice, see
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