The Shadow of the Winter Season
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Does this sound familiar? How many times do we hear this phrase as the holiday season is approaching? We hear it on the radio, playing in the malls, on the ads that plague our television set, even walking down the street! And somewhere in my subconscious mind there’s this thought that says, “No it isn’t…” I often feel very low energetically as the sun continues to retreat from view and get caught up in a swirl of negative emotions as the expectations of family, friends and society ramp up around me. We’re told we’re supposed to feel joyful and wonderful and so full of life that we have an over-flowing abundance of love to spread to the world. And this isn’t necessarily what’s going on inside…so why the discrepancy? Why the unease and uncertainty that often find their way into our hearts at this time?
If we take a moment to observe nature, we see that this is a very dark time of the year. Most creatures have either fled the scene or are lying really low in their respective nests. So what is this telling us? It’s saying that we are in fact engaging in unnatural patterns as we force ourselves to go out into crowded malls, think of all the things that will make others happy, engage in celebrations and gatherings in large groups, and otherwise venture out of our nests.
So what is actually happening here? Our bodies are seeking seclusion, introspection and contemplation and the external expectations are encouraging us to be out in the world. As a result, we take our needs that are surfacing, such as the need to heal a relationship, or have a much-needed conversation, or forgive an old resentment – and we suppress these needs. We push them down and cover up the pain it causes with numbing patterns. Excessive shopping, eating, drinking, busyness – are all ways we’ve learned how to hide the pain and forge on. This is precisely how we create what we call in the process facilitation work I do, a shadow. We ignore something pressing in our heart and put a band aid over the hurt by the patterns and habits we adopt.
Unfortunately, the pain remains. It continues to call out and demand our attention. So how do you know if you’ve completely healed a situation? If you think of the situation or the person involved and nothing surfaces other than neutral acceptance; no anger, no resentment, no need to tell others of the injustices you suffered, no thoughts of what you should have/could have said…just peace. This is what true healing looks like. If anything other than peace still lingers, you have put the situation or emotion into shadow and unless it is dealt with, it will continue to fester.
Shadows are actually wonderful teachers. They are reminding you to stop running and stop hiding from the truth within you. Shadows are deep soul call-outs, asking you to be super honest with yourself and your life and face the hardest thing to face, whatever that may be for you. What in your life is the hardest thing to face? It might be a tough decision you’ve had to make, or having a conversation with another that could be conflicting, or ending a toxic relationship, or kicking a destructive habit. Be real here. Take a look – this is the most wonderful time of year to see yourself clearly.
The more you become aware of what you’ve held in shadow and step in the direction of bringing light to it, the less power it will hold over you, thereby minimizing the pain it creates as a positive by-product of your willingness and your courage.
My desire for you this holiday season is that you face what’s most difficult to face within you, with courage, with love and with fierceness. Freedom is the ultimate result of this kind of courage and what better way to step into the holidays, than with a heart that is free.
As the powerful and inspirational leader Nelson Mandela has made his transition yesterday, I am guided to offer one of his quotes in his honour, giving many thanks for the life he has lived:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
May joy and peace and freedom make their way into your heart today and for all days.