January 21, 2021 by
Many of us have heard of the shadow – a term coined by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung to describe those aspects of ourselves that are disowned. Generally speaking, people tend to immediately relate to their shadow as being dark and maybe holding the “dark” emotions such as envy or disgust for example. However, there is another aspect to us that is also disowned. This is what is known as the golden shadow.
The golden shadow refers to those gifts we all have which we learnt, due to our early life experiences, to either minimise or to even deny completely because they were not welcomed. Our golden shadow is our full aliveness, our total greatness, our amazing creativity, our boundless love. All these gifts, and many more besides, end up in us, for a myriad of reasons, often severely damped down if not fully squashed. So they become buried and forgotten deep within us – just held unfelt and unknown to us in our bodies. We learnt to do this because we live in a culture that finds full aliveness and creativity disturbing and unsettling, sometimes even threatening,
So, just as our dark shadow places can leak out their hidden parts, so too can our golden shadows show themselves subtly. Is there someone you deeply admire or even see as a hero or role model? Whilst I would not say that I have a “hero” per se there are a lot of people I see as having a level of attribute I would love to have also. And this is the path into the golden shadow places in me.
Right now, one part that is standing out for me, is Nelson Mandela. In particular, what calls to me about his life is to do with how he found a way to shift out of being a person identified with rage, of seeing himself as a freedom fighter, wherein he was literally at war against powerlessness and oppression. Over his many years imprisoned on Robin Island he found a way to make peace with the hurt and the rage within himself and so was able to move beyond surviving into living from a place of compassion and of forgiveness.
I recognise this place of hurt and rage in me and what has been emerging in me over recent weeks is an awareness that I am identified with my rage from my childhood. It has been the fuel to enable me to survive an extremely difficult and traumatic childhood and it has been the force that has carried me forward in finding a way to heal all the trauma that ended up held in my body.
But now I have reached a place where my body is showing me, via high blood pressure (!), that I no longer need the rage to spur me on. Rather it is a time to explore this need in me to be identified with the rage-held parts and to befriend them so that maybe I can find a way to let go of being identified the fighter in me who has enabled me to get this far.
Right now, this is very much a work in progress for me – I see it as the theme of my personal work for 2021. I know I can be deeply empathic and forgiving – what my golden shadow, calling up Nelson Mandela for me as a symbol of deep longing within me, is showing me is that I too can learn a new way to live that is not about identification with trauma/shame/rage and pain. My golden shadow is offering me a sense of new inner direction for me this coming year.