If you are in a human body and you are not the Dalai Lama, it is highly likely that you have experienced an intensely negative reaction to someone at some point in your life.
In some cases, the feeling is so strong that you might feel guilty for having it. It’s if there is an evil twin inside of you, trying to break through your chest and wrap its hands around this other person’s neck and shake them up a bit. Or worse. I am familiar with this phenomenon, especially during times when I am in a growth spurt and facing my shadow is an essential part of that process. There is no escaping it.
We all have shadow energy. No exception. Our shadow consists of unnamed and disowned parts of us that were deemed unacceptable by society. It is not OK to be lazy, greedy, jealous, competitive or even to have a high sex drive. Yet, as we are all pieces of the mosaic of life, these traits, feelings, and tendencies exist inside us, hiding in the dark corners of our psyche.
When we have such a strong negative emotional reaction to someone it is an amazing opportunity for our personal growth. That just means that a window into our shadow box has been opened and it is up to us what we do with this information. Now, we have an opportunity to accept and love a part of us that we were taught to reject.
I certainly have had more than a handful of experiences where I felt guilty for the negative feelings I had about the other person that plagued me.
At times, I was irritated by them so much that it was hard to hide my feelings. Prickly words would come out of my mouth unconsciously or I’d find myself engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors in order to get back at this person and to relieve my psychic tension, to no avail. The solution didn’t lie in changing them, it was about developing the courage to look at a shadow side of me and freeing up the energy for it to express itself authentically by accepting it.
Eventually, originating from Byron Katie’s “The Work”, I came up with an exercise that helps me work through the feelings that come up and set the stage for me to take back the projection from that person. I do this for two reasons:
I want to get to know, accept and love all of me ( a lifelong process).
I know the power of the Shadow and its ability to destroy relationships and lives when it gets ignored.
Here it goes:
1) Come up with one short sentence that can express your grief’judgment about this person
Example: “He is selfish”.
2) Turn the sentence around and say each of these statements to yourself (out loud is even better):
“I am selfish”
“I used to be selfish”
“I wish I was selfish”
“I could be selfish”.
“I want to be selfish”