A few years ago, I was dating a man who had a grown-up daughter who I just couldn’t stand. She triggered me like no other person in my life. I felt she was manipulative, controlling and scheming. I judged her for being fat, loud, stupid and vulgar. She was a “wannabe” actress, who only talked about it but hadn’t succeeded so far. I was annoyed by the disrespect she showed her father, who she treated like a little boy. I could see that she was very insecure about her father having his first girlfriend after separating from their mom but no matter how hard I tried to feel compassion and empathy for her, I just couldn’t take being around her.
Only when I began my shadow work did I realize that the reason for this was that in one single person several of my shadow traits were brought to my conscious awareness to be reconciled.
Wasn’t she what my mother already hated about her own sister-in-law? Fat, loud, stupid and controlling? Wasn’t it normal to hate those traits?
If something bothers us this much it is a sign that we have suppressed exactly those sides of ourselves that we see in the other person. I suddenly realized that my own skinny mother was afraid of being fat and judged as too loud, stupid and bossy.
And what about myself? Didn’t I have all those traits I so resented in this young girl in myself? I had to look at one trait at a time and come to peace with it, starting with the easier ones.
I have certainly weighed more at different points in my life than I was comfortable with. And if I was depressed and insecure like she was, I could certainly put on a lot of weight as well. That one was easy.
What about being loud and drawing all the attention to herself? As a child I was never allowed to be the centre of attention. “Little girls are supposed to be seen but not heard.” I became shy and introvert. As an adult—even though I dropped my shyness—I was only comfortable being the centre of attention in an “appropriate way,” for example giving a speech about my expertise. But how much did I long for some attention as a little girl? I have that drama queen in me too, who wants to be noticed.
Have I been manipulative and controlling at some point in my life? You bet I have. In fact, I can think of several people complaining that I am trying to control something. Have I resorted to being manipulative or scheming when there seemed to be no direct way to achieve my goal? Absolutely.
Those three were relatively easy to accept.
But what about being stupid or vulgar? Nobody wants to be stupid. I have certainly always made sure I only say things that are clever or meaningful. I have never allowed myself to just let unfiltered chatter flow out of my mouth. This young woman was showing me exactly what I had never given myself permission to do. I judged her as stupid for not censoring her talk. I could, however, have looked at it as her making others feel comfortable with her idle chatter.
Have I done and said things that were stupid at some point in the past, or am I capable of saying something stupid in the future? Of course! I have done many things in my life that were stupid in retrospect.
Vulgar was even harder. It took me a while to admit that I have said things in the past that would be considered vulgar. I have used the f-word or other less ladylike terms. And in a moment of emotional upheaval, those words might even have slipped out of my mouth in public. Was I vulgar and embarrassing sometimes? Yes.
And what about the “wannabe” judgement? Even though I never dreamed of becoming an actress, I certainly had my dreams of wanting to be something. And I also had a lack of courage to pursue some of those dreams. I was as much a “wannabe” as she was. However, it was so much easier to see this in her and deny my own failures.
And then there was her lack of respect for men and in particular her father that annoyed me most of all. Did I respect my own father as a young woman? No, I didn’t. Even today I am struggling in many ways with respecting him for who he is.
And how often have I felt that a man was weak or stupid, not able to see things clearly, or unable to be as intuitive and smart as we women are? How many times have I not protested when another woman has made comments along the lines of “men are just hopeless, they need someone to look after them” or “most men just haven’t grown up yet.” This girl was showing me my own disrespect for men, and I did not like it at all. After all, I had tried to hide it from myself for such a long time.
The one thing I probably liked to see least of all was her insecurity and her fear because I have always felt insecure about my own father’s love. I know that if my father had a girlfriend, I would be very challenged myself, worried not to be important to him anymore. It would not be easy for me to like that “rival”, or to see anything positive in her. This young woman clearly showed me all the things I did not want to see in myself.
Had I known about shadow work at the time, I could have reconciled these traits in myself earlier and formed a friendship with her. Instead, my inability to accept her without judgements put a strain on the relationship with her father and we stopped dating. I missed an opportunity to be whole and happy with all my traits. It also robbed me of making a conscious choice whether I wanted to pursue the relationship with her father or not.
Who do you dislike? Who do you judge?
Come to a FREE Shadow Energetics Intro Talk
When: Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013
Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
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