This week, I want to present some ideas for how to deal with your shadow, once you've brought it to light & have begun to recognize some of your less than healthy habits.
I'd like to start with two of the three identifying factors that I mentioned, because once you have learned to spot your triggers & projections (Mirror Work), you will find that they are really only highlighting your repeat issues.
Next week, I'll talk about how to go deeper into Shadow Work to begin to heal some of those issues.
TRIGGERS : These are the people, words, situations that push your buttons & have you mouthing off or acting out impulsively. They are the things that get you reaching for a drink or cigarette to calm yourself, downing a pack of chips for comfort, or screaming at a loved one, co-worker or even a stranger in the heat of the moment.
Triggers aren't always negative, but here are five tips for dealing with them when they are...
1. Mindfulness - Once you start to identify your triggers and if you keep at it, you will find that by merely paying attention to them, they will eventually lose their charge. So, practice being mindful of what it is that sets you off, and, in the meantime, until you've learned to get a handle on it, be gentle with yourself. Remember to practice self love, patience & forgiveness, as you develop more awareness.
2. Breath Work - In Sanskrit, Breath Work is called "Pranayama", and it is used to release energy from it's bounds. It unbinds you from the stress of the moment. So, find a breathing technique that works for you and use it! I recommend taking slow, deep, belly breaths, allowing your belly to fully extend with each inhale. At the top of the inhale, hold your breath for a count of three and then exhale fully, pulling your belly back into your spine. Repeat until you feel the triggered emotion has been neutralized.
3. Time Out - If you find yourself feeling really triggered, but you're able to catch yourself before you lash out or engage in some reckless behavior, call a time out. Pull the car over, leave the office, home or wherever you are to step outside for a breath of fresh air. Take a short walk if you're able. If the situation absolutely demands your presence, request a moment of silence. Just say something to the effect of, "I need a second to think about this" or "I'm feeling pretty charged up right now, give me a minute to chill."
4. Count Down - Before you reach for that cookie, raise your voice or hurl an insult, count. Simply count down from ten in your mind, and if you can throw some humor into the mix, all the better. I like to count baby boogers, fluffy bunnies and coconuts. Ten baby boogers... Nine baby boogers... Yes, it's ridiculous, but that's the point. The absurd can be an amazing tension reliever.
5. Have Some M&M's - Those of you who use junk food as your go-to stress buster are probably jumping for joy at this suggestion, but I am not referring to tasty morsels of chocolate. I'm talking about the application of a mudra and a mantra used together to bring you out of your head and back into your body & the present moment.
A mudra is a spiritual gesture or hand posture used in yoga to direct the flow of energy, and I find that they're also helpful for anchoring one's mind to the present, especially when used in conjunction with a simple mantra or affirmation like "I am safe. All is well".
You do not have to repeat your mantra out loud for it to be effective, and pressing your forefinger & thumb together in an "okay" sign is both discreet and effective. Find an M&M combination that works for you and stick to it. The more often you use it, the more powerful it will become.
MIRROR WORK : So, you've made a judgement on someone else. This is often caused by what is known as "projection". It can be a good or a bad thing. If you're a person who is ready to dig into the mysterious world of the shadow, it can be quite the useful tool.
1. Follow The Clues Of Judgement - When you find yourself having a critical thought about someone, try following the point that your judgement is trying to make to it's final conclusion.
For example, if your thought is, "I can't stand greedy people", follow that up with a "because". "I cant stand greedy people, because..." Because why? "Because they are selfish".
Keep going with the Because Why inquiry until you finally get to the bottom of what it is that really bothers you about greedy people. "I don't like selfish people, because..." Because why? "Because they take more than they need." And...
"I hate people who take more than they need, because..." Because why? "Because then there will not be enough for the rest of us." And...
"I worry that there will not be enough for the rest of us, because..." Because why? "Because then there will not be enough for me."
Aha! So maybe your resentment of greedy people has to do with your fear of not having enough and a need to maybe be a bit more greedy in your own life. Where in your life might it be helpful to, if not be out right greedy, at least take a more proactive approach to getting your needs met?
2. Step Into The Mirror - See the person that you are judging in your mind's eye. Imagine them doing, wearing or saying whatever it is you are judging them for. Concentrate on making this visualization as vivid as you possibly can, and then step into the vision to take the place of the offender.
Imagine yourself doing, wearing or saying whatever it is you feel judgmental about, and then ask yourself... How does this make me feel? Ashamed? Afraid? Vulnerable? Maybe you'll surprise yourself by finding that it makes you feel powerful or strong.
Ask yourself why that would be a bad thing, and then flip it around... In what ways might that be a good thing? Are there benefits to having that quality or behaving in such a way?
3. Visit TheWork.com by Byron Katie, download & fill out the "Judge Your Neighbor" worksheet.
*In Case You Missed It... Hippie Witch : 3 KickAss Magick Tricks For Bringing Your Shadow Into The Light