Getting to know your shadow self

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

From Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

Following are selected quotes from Falling Upward, each preceded by the page number.  Rohr uses Jungian terminology sometimes.  At the risk of being simplistic, persona is what you try to project to other people, e.g. Romney and Obama tried to take on the alpha male persona in the debates.  Shadow is the part of yourself which you try to hide from others and especially yourself.

127 By the second half of life, you have been in regular unwelcome contract with your shadow self, which gradually detaches you from your not-so-bright persona (meaning stage mask in Greek) that you so diligently constructed in the first half of life.

127ff Your shadow is what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see.

128 I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it.

128ff Your persona is what most people want from you and reward you for, and what you choose to identify with, for some reason.

130 The movement to second-half-of-life wisdom has much to do with necessary shadow work and the emergence of healthy self-critical thinking, which alone allows you to see beyond your shadow and disguise. . . .

131 Shadow work is humiliating work, but properly so.  If you do not "eat" such humiliations with regularity. . .you will surely remain in the first half of life forever.

131 You come to expect various forms of halfheartedness, deceit, vanity, or illusions from yourself.  But now you see through them, which destroys most of their game and power.

132 Such people [who have done shadow work] do not need to be perfectly right, and they know they cannot be anyway; so they just try to be in right relationship.

132 I am afraid that the closer you get to the Light, the more of your shadow you see.

133 The shadow self invariably presents itself as something like prudence, common sense, justice, or "I am doing this for your good" when it is actually manifesting fear, control, manipulation, or even vengeance.

133 Invariably when something upsets you, and you have a strong emotional reaction out of proportion to the moment, your shadow self has just been exposed.

134 As the shadows of things continue to show themselves. . .you lose interest in idealizing or idolizing persons or events, especially yourself.  You no longer "give away your innter gold" to others.  . . .It does not mean self-hatred or self-doubt, but exactly the contrary, because you finally accept both your gold and your weaknesses as your own—and they no longer cancel one another out.  You can finally do the same for others too. . .  .

134 Once you have faced your own hidden or denied self, there is not much to be anxious about anymore, because there is no fear of exposure—to yourself or others.

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