Then one day, she blows a gasket. “You’re so selfish,” she screams. All her pent up frustration at feeling under-appreciated bubbles to the surface. In other words, her Shadow pitches a fit. She’d been taught that it’s bad to be selfish, that a good girl takes care of her man, so in order to get love she believes she has to be a caregiver. Despite these beliefs, she has a part of her personality that wants to be selfish, and perhaps another that wants to be taken care of the way she cares for her man. She keeps pushing it into the Shadow because of her childhood beliefs, but it insists on being expressed. When she sees her man expressing something in her Shadow, it’s like looking in the mirror. The Shadow recognizes itself and longs to express itself, but the social conditioning keeps pushing it back, until there’s an explosion one day. It’s not her man’s fault, although she will blame him. She may even leave him. But the dynamic will continue to play out until she faces her Shadow.
What do you do about this? How can you allow the Shadow its expression without ruining all of your relationships? Here’s how:
1. Identify a behavior that irritates you about your partner (past or present).
2. Ask yourself if you’ve ever behaved in that way, and be honest.
3. Ask yourself what would be the benefit of behaving in that way. For example, acting selfish means you actually get what you want, which is a good thing.
4. Give yourself permission to behave in that way, even if it’s only in limited circumstances. (Maybe you get to be selfish on Fridays.)
5. Practice the new behavior if it’s something you want to do. If it’s not, forgive yourself for having the desire to behave that way.
We all have an unlimited capacity for differing behaviors; some we may not want to express, but it’s important to acknowledge them nonetheless. I may want to kill my husband- clearly that’s not socially acceptable, but it’s perfectly fine to admit it to myself. Admitting it to myself takes the pressure off the Shadow’s desire to be expressed.
There’s a saying, “What you don’t own, owns you.” This refers to the Shadow. Use this practice to go through all the behaviors of other people that irritate you. You will find that you have less irritation once you uncover those behaviors in your own self, even if you choose not to express them.