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Light up the Shadow

There is a truth that is not really given much thought to by most of us: Every child is born free - We are all born free. That might remind you of what the world often mentions and talks about regarding equality in the rights we should all have as human beings, but other than that and very importantly, that truth means: There are no such things as perceptions, judgements or preconceived notions existing in any child’s mind - in your mind/my mind/the minds of others - at birth.


A baby lion, no matter how fierce their parents can be, is completely pure, gentle and joyful. A baby human, no matter how kind or bad, how generous or selfish, horrible or wonderful, rude or polite, warmhearted or cruel their parents can be, the baby itself is born completely pure, gentle, and joyful, is it not?


Every single baby of any species is born into this world with these same qualities.


When years go by, as we grow up, we un-intendedly grow out of our original nature. Almost every one of us has in ourselves certain degrees of impurities (greed, lust, neediness, possessiveness, jealousy,…) instead of purity; harshness (being judgemental, bitterness, aversion, grudges, hatred, resentment, anger, aggressiveness, even violence,…) instead of gentleness; fears, doubts, anxieties, worries and sorrow instead of joyfulness. We often easily find these “negative” qualities in other people and we get bothered by them; but not many of us see and admit that the same qualities also exist in ourselves. We would easily be able to recall memories of more than one encounter with somebody who we think is not really nice to us or to others - who seems to be (even just a little bit) competitive/selfish/mean/greedy/grasping/annoying/possessive/aggressive/dishonest/cruel/cold/negative/cynical, etc; but don’t want to accept the fact that there must be at least someone who (at least for a second) has had one of those thoughts about us!.


Why is it that we developed to have those “negative” qualities if we all were originally born as pure, gentle and joyful babies?

We were trained and taught to become this way!

Who taught us to develop those negative qualities?! And why would they do that?

Our parents (or the caregivers of those who were not raised by their parents since birth) laid out the first fundamental foundations for us all, and then all the other people whom we come into contact with in our childhood, adolescence, and early careers added layers and adjustments leading to the completion of our belief systems, thoughts and behavioural patterns that we hold tightly to for the rest of our lives (if we do not consciously work hard to undo that conditioning).


There would be no need to discuss any further if you choose to just function and get on with life as it has been for you, because after all, what we were all taught was intended to help us survive and be able to fit in with the common values and the normality of the current societies in which we are a part of.

But for those who have been yearning to make sense of your lives, to understand who you really are, to live a fulfilling, meaningful, and purposeful life instead of struggling in stress, conflict, loneliness, unhappiness and all other sorts of mental suffering; it is very important to understand how we come to forget who we are originally - pure, gentle and joyful Souls from birth!.


From such innocent, gentle, and joyful babies, like pure white sheets of paper, we were taught and commanded by our parents to accept and follow their perceptions and beliefs of what is: right/wrong, good/bad, should/shouldn’t, love/hate, like/dislike, beautiful/ugly, acceptable/unacceptable, polite/impolite, real/surreal, possible/impossible, strong/weak, patient/impatient, mine/yours, us/them… which they held as Truths, and they believe as their Truths (which are not necessarily ‘the’ Truths) would be most helpful for us to function and fit into our societies. But not just that, more often than not, they also taught us to fear what they fear, to worry about what worries them, to hate what they hate, to love what they love, to believe in what they believe, and to strive to get what they always wanted (for themselves and then for their children). Even worse, some parents also unconsciously teach (or pass on to) the children their dysfunctional qualities such as: lying, stealing, violence, aggression, anger, jealousy, resentment, nastiness, selfishness, and cruelty towards other people and the world around them.

***


If all that we were taught was supposed to help us survive and be able to fit in within our societies, what’s wrong with just living our lives based on these perceptions about good/bad, right/wrong, etc., that our parents (and others later on) have taught us?

There’s nothing “wrong” with that. But there are side effects that often become issues in life if we are unaware of them, and those side effects are the main sources of mental struggling and suffering.

Let us now examine them:


We grow up being told to ‘not do this’ and ‘do that instead’, according to the sets of values that our Parents defined, right? Before going further, we need to repeat an important truth here:

Nothing - before being taught - originally existed in the babies’ minds at birth as bad, wrong, shouldn’t, unacceptable, unlovable, or impossible. In other words: all babies are born in the state of complete freedom in terms of what and how they can choose to feel, think, do, want, like, etc. That means: All possibilities of choices and actions have equal chances to be chosen and acted out by a person according to his/her free will without any restrictions, no matter what these choices and actions would be defined as good/bad, right/wrong, etc. later on!


With this complete freedom, of course we couldn’t live in any of the current civilizations on Earth at the moment, where we have to, and must, follow and agree with their current sets of values. There are millions of things that can be listed if you really think about what you’ve been taught and made to agree with regarding what you shouldn’t do throughout your life.


This is where and why the actual issues (side effects) arose: as we already learnt from our early childhood so many times that if we did the things which our parents told us NOT to do, we’d be treated or punished by our parents in ways that made us feel unloved and unaccepted. For a child, this means: Death, as they cannot survive without being loved and being accepted by their parents. A child’s chance of survival completely depends on its parents’/caregivers’ decision to care for and look after them or not. If the parents showed the child that they were unlovable and unacceptable, it is as fearful as a Death sentence to the child since they assumed that they would no longer be cared for by their parents/caregivers.


So here comes the First Issue: Because of this fear of being unloved and unaccepted by our own parents in our very early childhood, and later on by our teachers, friends and people around us, we gradually learnt to hide and bury the thoughts, feeling and actions which we were taught as “bad, wrong, shouldn’t, unacceptable, unlovable, and impossible” to feel more secure and safe, to make sure we fit well in the criteria for being accepted and loved by our parents (and the societies we live in). The Shadow side of our personalities is formed and that is where we store all the aspects that we believe are not accepted by others, especially loved ones.


This Shadow side, which was formed during childhood becomes darker, more well hidden, and largely forgotten (become unconscious) as we keep suppressing more and more, again and again the “wrong” thoughts, feelings and actions over the years.


Similar to the literal shadow which appears when we are exposed to sunlight that always follows and attaches to us everywhere we go, the Shadow side of our personalities is, likewise, a part of our whole selves and cannot be detached from our whole personalities.


Here comes the Second Issue:

What we suppress and deny in ourselves is still there, hidden in our own Shadows, and cannot be fully removed, but our Ego always denies and refuses to accept those “unaccepted qualities” in ourselves.

Also, as we’ve learnt from our parents that to not obey is “wrong”, and those in the “wrong” deserve to be punished/unloved, by this understanding, we then learnt that: the ways to express the Shadow aspects (or to give us the right to be nasty) are: either we need to have power over others (as how our parents positioned themselves in relation to us), or we need to successfully point out that others are wrong, so that we can be right to react in the ways that we wouldn’t normally react.


When making somebody wrong, we give ourselves the rights to act out of our own Shadow which we always normally try to deny in ourselves. But the real problem is that, we don’t just react spontaneously out of our Shadows when something “wrong” (according to our set of beliefs and values) suddenly happens; many of us often deliberately look for and infer further that something or someone is and must be “wrong” so that we can be annoyed, angry, aggressive, violent, mean, nasty, shout, etc., without being “wrong” ourselves! Many of us so enjoy doing this but are mostly unconscious and unaware of the real underlying motivations and conditionings.


This behaviour is rooted in: The Shadow wanting to express itself and it is very much fueled and amplified by the Ego’s needs for approval that it is right. If we’re not aware of and become more conscious of the real emotions, motivations and actions that come out of our own Shadows and Ego, more and more complex problems in relationships are inevitable.

That’s not all. The third issue is that, when we were children, we usually listened to and obeyed what we were told by our parents, teachers, the authorities, and so on; but in many times we feel upset, conflicted and coerced inside. Many of us growing up holding unspeakable resentment, anger and intolerance (even being consciously unaware) firstly towards our own parents, and later on towards other people and our societies. We often unconsciously rebelled (in actions or non-actions as thoughts, feelings and ill will) against what we were taught and commanded to do or to be by our parents and others.


Why is that?

Because deep down, we either didn’t completely agree with or couldn’t make sense of why we had to follow and obey the things we were told to do; or even more seriously, we sensed that there were things fundamentally in conflict with our inner conscience, or utterly unnecessary and irrelevant in relation to our true nature and our purposes in this lifetime.


This article seems to make the parents look terrible by what they do to their children right?

It is so far just one side of the coin. Now, let’s stop for a second, and think about this:


As much as you were taught to be the way you are, how uncomfortable, resentful, and angry that you would have been feeling towards your parents, They - your Parents - were also taught to be that way by their own parents since they were children, and they grew up having the same kind of unspeakable resentful feelings towards their own parents. And not just that! The same process had happened to your parents’ parents, and so on… Generation after generation. And indeed, this is now happening to your own children. This process seems to never end, if we don’t wake up and consciously choose to change it.


Would you now be able to understand your parents more and be more empathetic with their confusion/feeling of being powerless/helpless under the pressure of their own parents and societies that they have been carrying along throughout their lives!?


You - their children - quite often are the only thing in life that they have power over, and it is very likely that you are now feeling the same about your own children. Would you now forgive your parents for what you think they have done and imposed on to your life!? Would you now also forgive yourselves for rebelling or being resentful towards your own parents!?


Would you now understand what your children have been and will be going through in relations with you - their parents!? Would you become more open, accepting and loving to let them go, to be what they want to be, to do what they want to do whilst lovingly teach them what you think is helpful for them but without imposing any outcome and consciously aware and make them aware of your own limited beliefs which are not the ultimate reality they must believe in!?


Would you now choose to be tolerant and compassionate towards all other people who have been going through the same process (as you) amidst confusion of not knowing who they really are and why they act in certain ways (often hurtful ways) in relations with you and others!?


Would you now understand that we all wish to be loved and accepted in life, but our beliefs for how to get there are different from those of others, depending upon what we were taught since our childhood and on our different stages of awareness and understanding about ourselves, especially our own fears and motivations behind all choices and actions under the influences of our own Shadows and Egos.


When we are not aware that we have been just fighting our own Shadows, we live a life of unhappiness, struggles, blame, and grudges, reflected in our unresolved issues in relationships with parents, siblings, spouses, children, and also colleagues, friends, authorities and societies… And then we unavoidably pass all these issues and lifestyle on to our own offspring.


We spent so much energy and effort throughout our lives trying to hide and bury the “bad, wrong, shouldn’t, unacceptable, unlovable, and impossible” thoughts, feelings and actions, and making other people wrong to make ourselves right to express our Shadow aspects, forgetting that every one of us are unnecessarily suffering and hurting each other whilst we all just want the same things: to be loved and accepted - to be true to our original nature as how we come into this world, pure, gentle and joyful. To experience and contribute in this human existence: a life full of love, awareness, beauty and harmony.
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