Not too long ago I heard the phrase ‘shadow belief’ for the very first time. It immediately resonated with me, and I couldn’t believe that I had never had the realisation that I have these beliefs nor had I taken the time to investigate what they are for me personally.
The term ‘shadow belief’ has been introduced by Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of psychology. It is referred to as an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side. (Thanks Wikipedia!) Basically, it is a belief that you are unaware of, and in most cases, a negative one at that.
And so I am on a quest to shed light on my shadow beliefs and if and how they are holding me back. One shadow belief surfaced immediately, and I think it is one that applies to almost every aspect of my life and is the mother shadow belief of all the others: you are too small and you will never know and be enough to do anything of significance. That immediately leads to: I havent’t earned great things, I have no right to grandness, I need to get out of the arena, I will never amount to anything.
Take this very blog: it has been in development for over a year. I hesitate on what I want to write about, how I should write it and when I should post. All out of fear that everything I do is not good enough, and I would be all the wiser to not show myself in any way that is not strictly necessary as it will only open up ways for non-constructive criticism. And let’s be honest, nobody wants that.
Other shadow beliefs of mine personally are that I have no idea what I am talking about, what I say or do might just turn out to be extremely stupid and that no matter what I do I will fail anyway.
Thinking about it, I think some of these have been with me since early teenage years. Coming ‘back home’ to a country I no longer belonged to nor spoke the language of, I was well aware that I was the odd one out and it would serve me to listen to others. Mix that in with a father who was very conservative and who really did the best he could, but who had taught me to always be aware of what others have to say and never listen to my own opinion, and there is a potential recipe for disaster. I grew up learning that what others think is more important and has more value than what I think. And so I got myself educated, got myself a good career and still I think that everyone else has more right to their opinion than I do to mine. And let me tell you, it is not easy to un-learn these lessons.
Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? Thinking about these shadow beliefs? Why enter Pandora’s box? Who knows what you will find in there, best to stay out. Except that it isn’t. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge (thanks Dr. Phil!). I want to face my shadow beliefs head on as I know that they are holding me back. There is a whole wide world out there with possibilities and chances, and I don’t want to miss one – certainly not thanks to myself. So I have to acknowledge them. I have to shine on them with a torch so bright that it forces them out of the shadow. And sometimes I hate it, because staying in my own little world is so much safer. But great things are never achieved from there. So it’s scary, but I’m doing it. And it won’t change within a day, but I have time.
Are you ready to meet your shadow?