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integrating the shadow

“Ultimately, if we want to live peaceful lives and create a peaceful world, we must start by building the foundation for that peace within ourselves. This process includes accepting and integrating the parts of ourselves that are capable of making war.”

-Shakti Gawain from “The Path of Transformation”

I am working through a lot of deep issues at present, things from my past that I thought I let go of but find new experiences that trigger or reopen some wound I thought was healed. I am finding new ways of coming to terms with things that I react to very strongly (and not always productively) through attending to my own transformation. Here’s a bit more from the book mentioned above that I really appreciate and have been applying:

“We must remember that trying to solve the world’s problems through a primarily external focus is not very effective either. The world is full of people attempting to find solutions to community and planetary problems with little success and much struggle, because they are not fully confronting deeper levels of the issues. As well-meaning as we may be, if we try to “fix” things outside ourselves, without healing the underlying causes of the problem in our own consciousness, we simply perpetuate the problem.”

So, when I find myself wanting to change something “out there”, I look for what inside of me is asking for healing and integration. The most recent example is my intense repulsion of the Disney company and the way I perceive that they sell girls as sex toys/objects . Now that my daughter is beginning to identify with role models out in the world and I see how little control I have over what she is drawn to, I feel powerless. Then I get mad, lecture, etc. Not so very helpful.

When I see that the deeper issue is how I was treated as a sex object as a very young age, how it shaped my identity and how I have subsequently allowed myself to be treated, I can find a productive way of dealing with this issue and hopefully be my daughter’s most positive role model through my own example.

Another example that comes to mind is a person I met recently who is very involved in civil disobedience, the Israel/Palestine conflict and other issues involved in making the world a better place. She told me that she cannot shake hands with a man in uniform. My guess is that she denies her inner warrior. She denies the part of herself that has the potential to make war and, as a result, denies a part of her own and others humanity.

If we cannot truly own our many selves and shake hands with them and our brothers and sisters recognizing that they are truly a part of us, how can we truly find peace?

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