Last night I came across a video on Twitter of cruelty to animals. I got so upset. How could anyone hurt a defenceless animal, or another human being for that matter?? I despair at the way humans treat one another and struggle to come to terms with the behaviour of certain people and why they are so cruel.
Despite the tremendous upset and empathy I feel, I am ashamed to admit that I stick my head in the sand rather than actually do something about it. It feels too overwhelming a problem to tackle to be able to make any real impact. This is something I know I need to address as part of my spiritual growth.
Cruelty is everywhere; on TV, online, in the news and the vast majority of it is behind closed doors. The truth is that there is likely an element of cruelty in all of us which we have no wish to recognise - have you ever berated yourself for the way you look, or what you eat? Have you ever walked past a beggar in the street saying “sorry I have no change”?
Cruelty is one of the aspects of the shadow self - the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you don’t want to admit to having. The list can be endless but might include laziness, judgment or anger - anything that you perceive as dark or weak within yourself. Although we may not always choose to recognise cruelty in ourselves, we do notice many forms of the shadow side of human behaviour in others.
Part of our personal and spiritual growth is to learn to recognise the undesirable side of our self. The shadow side. The soul’s journey is one of grace and the Universe guides us and nurtures us, much like a loving parent. But that parent knows the value of tough love and oftentimes leads us into places of suffering, where we make foolish choices that result in painful outcomes - for ourselves and others. When we repress or deny any aspect of ourselves, they do not disappear, they can grow in power and cause us more and more suffering.
Our shadow self, the 'part' responsible for pain and suffering and cruelty, could be considered the primitive side of ourselves. It can be confusing and painful to come into contact with those primal fears and desires as they don't fit with our conscious understanding of who we are. Suffering deepens our wisdom and like it or not, we are here to learn.
Awareness is the first stage to building a healthy relationship with our shadow self. When we recognise and face our shadow self, we can become more whole and feel more balanced. Facing our shadow self takes courage, patience, trust and kindness and is something that should be explored in a safe and supportive space. In a journal for example, with a trained therapist or with close friends whom you trust.
For me, it’s about procrastination. Not doing anything or not doing enough, and also not being good enough. So I could say my shadow self is showing me laziness and self-judgement. When I get upset at the cruelty to animals and people, I don’t do anything as I don’t know where to start. The universe is constantly trying to help us on our path and show us the way. Who knew the universe was using Twitter to help nudge me back on course!!
That is perhaps why I wrote this blog, to do something, to take that first step, to take action, no matter how small or insignificant it may feel. I am not solving to problems of the world, I have not ended animal cruelty, but I have shifted the energy which in turn helps shape transformation.
There is a huge resource in t'interweb about the shadow self, so if you feel ready to open the shadow box and peak inside, go easy on yourself and spend time researching supportive tools. I really love this article by Kim Loret - http://www.kimlohret.com/single-post/2018/01/21/Facing-Your-Shadow