The Life-Changing Self-Work You’re Not Doing Yet: Exonerating the Shadows

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Exoneration of the shadows.

Some of the most important work that I do—both personally and professionally—is shadow work. Consciously working with the shadows—the repressed, projected, unseen parts of myself and the world. The dark stuff. The stuff I resist and don’t want to deal with. The painful stuff. The stuff I don’t want to see.

In our work, each of the Master Energies that we journey through at the Circle and Mastermind levels have Shadow Energies. Discover’s shadow is Repression, and it’s the master of all Shadow Energies.

Because most of us think of shadow as the exact opposite of light. That a shadow is synonymous with total darkness. But that’s actually not true. A shadow doesn’t occur from absence of light; it occurs when light is partially shone. Or when some things are seen and some aren’t. When something is Repressed.

And integration doesn’t come from Repressing it further and hoping to unsee it. Or even from vilifying it and seeing it as something we have to ‘overcome.’

Shadows are integrated when we shine light on them. When we sit with them fully. When we embrace them. When we exonerate them.

The deepest work I’ve ever done is to see all of my own shame, trauma, and wounds through the lens of the five Shadow Energies, understand them fully, and then begin to use those shadows in conscious and empowered ways.

Repression isn’t inherently bad. It can keep us safe when we aren’t ready to see or integrate something. It’s a powerful protective mechanism. Just as it is a focus tool. I can temporarily Repress certain aspects of my personality to more deeply focus on unpacking other aspects. Conscious Repression—or Repression that has been shone light upon and is happening from an empowered place—is a deeply powerful tool.

As is Corruption, Extraction, Suppression and Disassociation. Our four other shadows. The parts of Create, Value, Express, and Heal that have been cast to the shadows. The parts we afraid to see in ourselves and the world around us.

We may readily look at sexual assault as a form of Extraction (‘rape’ literally meaning “to seize or take”), but yet turn a blind eye to our obsessive desire to search every coupon code out there to take the most for giving the least. Interestingly, when I’ve e-mailed with an Etsy artist a bunch, I’m less interested in finding any coupon code. Because this person has more subjectivity to me. And it’s a lot harder to Extract from a fully realize subjectivity.

The extent to which objectify (or Repress their Divinity) is the extent to which we automatically (and often unconsciously) Extract.

We Extract from land (exploitation of land) and labor and certain humans—maybe because of their income levels or age or gender or skin color—from conditioning that has taught us these attributes imply more or less worth. Or more or less subjectivity.

Literally more or less of a human being. And therefore able to be Extracted from.

When we begin to understand that—really, really understand that—then it’s first of all, no surprise, that the most marginalized populations are often most at risk for sexual violence. But also that Extract isn’t an “othered thing.” It’s not just “out there.” It’s a part of Value that we are refusing to see. It’s a pattern that we may exhibit in Extraction of our own “praiseworthy attributes” in desperate attempt to be worthy. It’s a pattern of how we see ourselves and our own worth. It’s a pattern of conditioning and socialization.

And it’s also our salvation.

Because we need to exonerate that shadow. Extraction isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s how we take medicine from poison. It’s how we separate peach flesh from toxic pits. And, most importantly, it’s how we Extract out the toxic and disempowering conditioning that prevents us from seeing our own subjectivity and everyone else’s.

If we want to heal the painful distortions of Extraction, we have to see it, exonerate it, and use it consciously in ourselves first and foremost. Extracting out conditioning. Looking at where and why we’ve engaged in these patterns for so long. Getting back to our own subjectivity (which is inherently de-conditioning). So that we can see others’.

I’ll be honest—a lot of people don’t’ want to go to the depths of the shadows that we go. This work isn’t for everyone. But just last week I spoke with an amazing woman who said that before the Circle she thought she did a lot of self-work. And then she started doing shadow work. And, within two months, she easily did 10x more self-work by actively working with the shadows.

How can we ever fall in love with ourselves if we don’t see ourselves? If we don’t see all that we’re Repressing? If we don’t see our own subjectivity—who we actually are?

Working with the Shadow Energies makes you see all the parts of yourself you’ve been hiding. And, yes, there will be pain. And heartbreak. And resistance.

But to know your own subjectivity fully—there’s no greater beauty in the world.

What are you refusing to see? What are you Repressing? And how can you begin to exonerate those shadows?

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