We've probably all heard the phrase, "He is living in the shadow of his brother". The dictionary defines the term as to feel or seem unsuccessful in comparison to someone who is very successful. Other definitions talk about living in the shadow of war or living in the shadow of some past event or deed.
We have all at some stage of our lives probably found ourselves living in someone's shadow - our parents, siblings more than likely and if not we all probably know someone who fits the description. For me growing up in northern England and having the small town's only missionary parents, it was growing up in their shadow, a shadow that was imposed not by my parents but by a "well meaning" primary school headmistress! These external shadows were, as an adult pretty easy to resolve and move on from, however the shadows I have had most difficulty dealing with have been the darkest shadows of all - my own.
You see, the darkest shadows of all are the ones born of our inner voices, the ones that say "you're not good enough", "you can't do that", "you can't be that", and a thousand other versions that over time we believe (often without a single challenge!), absorb into our psyche and then spend a lifetime living in the shadows of. Our internal dialogue, namely those negative thoughts we all have, may have come from external influences over the years but we have chosen on some level to believe these stories and to adopt them as truths. We have chosen not to challenge these limiting self beliefs, thoughts and feelings and as a consequence we have given more and more power to our shadows that have in turn weighed us down and held us back from living a full and rich life.
Living in the shadow of yourself and your self imposed limitations, living with the stories you have come to believe about yourself and your ridiculously high expectations of yourself, living with self doubt and so many others are the shadows that are holding you back and weighing you down. Living in the shadow of yourself is the darkest shadow you can live in.
Sounds pretty dire doesn't it? And yes it can be. It can be a lifetime of unfulfilled dreams and ambitions, a lifetime of self doubt, a lifetime of that nagging feeling that something isn't quite right or the feeling that there must be more to life than this. Our shadows over the years begin to pile up on top of themselves and we drag them around with us into our relationships, jobs and life itself until they influence all we do...
The Good News
The good news is that as with all shadows once you start to shine a light on your shadows they start to disappear and lose their density.
In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it... Shakti Gawain
How do we shine a light onto our shadows? We do it by bringing self awareness to them, by challenging them, by making the choice to NOT live under their influence anymore and then one by one begin the joyful work of becoming self aware of each of the shadows we have holding us back, reclaiming and re discovering our true selves, perhaps for the first time, and then moving forward into a life of our choosing, design and positive intention.
Will this be an easy journey? At times no. Some of our shadows will resist our efforts to change but with courage and help this is where we can learn great lessons and create massive growth and change for ourselves.
I'd like to leave you with this thought - Shadows only exist because somewhere there is a light shining, (your own inner light, no matter how dim it may seem). Does this means we will always have shadows? Sure, but we can choose to shine a light on them at any time we desire and turn the challenge into an opportunity for growth! Discover your own light, the one that is within you now and allow it to grow and become brighter and those shadows you've been dragging around to become dimmer! Do the work you need to do to and begin living the life you desire, of your design and choosing... If not now, When?