Wicked – Shadows Everywhere

With Halloween upon us, it’s a time to reflect on our shadows. Befitting the season, I went to see the musical “Wicked”. What a clear shadow story that musical presents to us!

Wicked

Glenda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, carry each other’s shadow sides. Glenda is blonde, beautiful, ambitious, superficial to the point of being stupid and very popular. Elphaba, born with emerald green skin, is dark, smart, talented in sorcery, kind-hearted, fiery and ostracised. They are fascinated by each other yet repulsed. They know about each other’s existence and at times have no use for each other. If they team up though, they are strong together, unbeatable. The romantic interest in their lives, Prince Fiyero, first gravitates towards the beautiful and seemingly perfect Glenda, until he discovers her dark shadow Elphaba and truly falls in love with her. He sees the gifts in the shadow, the beauty of being different, the power in her intellect and commitment to helping those who are being mistreated. The misguided Wizard of Oz and his press secretary use the fear of the population of munchkin land of the dark, of the different, of the evil to prevent Elphaba from liberating everybody from his dictatorship.

What shows up on stage outside ourselves has such a fascination because it is going on inside all of us. We are all beautiful and ugly, ambitious and lazy, superficial and deep, stupid and smart, gentle and fiery; at times we belong, at other times we feel like outsiders. The musical story shows so clearly that what everybody labels as the Good, personified by Glenda, is neither good nor bad. The same applies to what lies in the shadow and has been deemed by the majority as evil. Elphaba is neither good, nor bad, just misunderstood. In fact, she is able to rise and have a great impact, especially if unified with her light shadow, represented by Glenda.

wicked_fiyero & elphaba

This is a beautiful story about our own strength if we just step out of the fear of what lies in the dark and – just like Prince Fiyero – begin to fall in love with our shadows. No energy is good or bad when used consciously. All energy has gifts and potential. It becomes a problem if we begin to persecute an energy in us. Just as Elphaba’s powers became greater in hiding when she was hunted and wanted as an enemy of the Great Wizard, who, by the way, stands for the Inner Critic we all have.

Halloween Pumpkin 3 Heads

Just as Greek mythology tells us, if we cut off the head of the hydra, it grows two. If we cut those off, it grows four and so on. We cannot get rid of our shadow. The more we disown an energy, the more we try to push it underground and starve it, the more fierce it becomes. By befriending an energy, by getting to know it’s true potential and usefulness, we shift from fear into acceptance and love. We can integrate it into us and gain the conscious choice when and how to use it.

One of the ways we do this is a Shadow Integration Process. Another person can stand in for an energy in us, for example the angry energy, which is generally a dark shadow, or the generous energy, which could be a light shadow for us. You are then literally looking into the eyes of that part of you which you have so far judged and disowned. In the Integration Process you release the energy which is right now holding this part at bay because it perceives it as a problem. From the intuitive wisdom of your heart you get to know the gifts and advantages of this energy. From that shift in your understanding and feeling you can truly embrace ALL energy as part of you. Knowing it in yourself liberates you from judging others and being in fear of an energy. It is a huge step towards consciousness, wholeness and greater freedom.

 

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Halloween Pumkin Dolphins

 

 

 

 

The Surprising Purpose of Anger

The central idea behind Marshall B Rosenberg’s system of Non-Violent Communication is people’s needs and whether they are being met. NVC shows us how to express ourselves in ways that increase the likelihood of getting what we need. It also teaches us how to listen to and respond to the messages of others from our heart. Once the needs of all people involved have been acknowledged and understood, compromises or solutions can be found. We have a natural inclination to help others out and make life better for them. When we are approached with a true request, we tend to grant the request, if possible.

If anger is present, it is more likely that the interaction is not going to be very constructive. Suppressing or denying anger never works. We need to ask what is going on underneath the anger. Anger is like the indicator light in your car. We wouldn’t ignore that warning light. It gives us useful information about what our engine needs.

check engine light

The first thing we need to let go of is blaming others for our anger. Nobody makes us feel angry. The behaviour of others might be the trigger for our anger but not the cause. When you find yourself thinking “He/she is making me feel angry because…” stop and reframe. We are never angry because of what others say or do. We are angry because of what we are telling ourselves about the situation.

“The cause of anger lies in our thinking—in thoughts of blame and judgment.” (Marshall Rosenberg, Non-violent Communication, 143)

Here is an example: If you have agreed to pick me up at 6:00 but you show up at 6:30, am I angry? It depends on what I make this mean. Do I tell myself that you don’t care about me or my time and that you are disrespectful toward me? Do I judge you as unreliable and inconsiderate? Do I stress myself out because we might now be late for something? These are all stories which will make me feel angry. If I don’t give your lateness any meaning, don’t take it as a personal attack, I don’t feel angry. If you arrive late and my need is to spend time purposefully and constructively, I might feel frustrated or angry. If my need is for 30 minutes of quiet time or to finish something myself, I might feel pleased.

It is not you who has made me feel angry, it is the story I tell myself based on my underlying need. When we are connected to our needs, we don’t need to move into anger. Instead of engaging in righteousness, we can connect with our own needs and those of others. Instead of believing we are angry because somebody else made us feel this way, we can shift to “I am feeling anger because my need for… is not met.”

Marshall Rosenberg quote

We have the choice to take four steps toward expressing anger constructively:

  1. Stop what we are thinking or saying and breathe
  2. Identify our judgmental thoughts and stories
  3. Connect with our feelings and needs underneath the anger
  4. Express our feelings and unmet needs
  5. Make a concrete request of how our needs can be met

When I share the steps of non-violent communication with my clients, three different hurdles usually show up. One, many of us have never learned to recognize what our needs are. Two, nobody has ever taught us how to express them. Three, we need to be okay with the other person denying our request.

Here are some examples for beliefs that we need to balance at a subconscious level to communicate more successfully:

  1. My needs are important / as important as other people’s needs.
  2. It is safe for me to express my needs.
  3. I am willing to communicate my emotions.
  4. I express my needs calmly and clearly.
  5. My needs are acknowledged / heard.
  6. I deserve to have my needs met.
  7. I love myself when others deny my requests.
  8. I listen with an open heart to other people’s feelings and needs.
  9. I respect and honour other people’s needs.
  10. I lovingly accept others as they are.

For examples of non-violent communication please read my blog “Communicating More Successfully”.

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For Belief Change Coaching and Relationship Coaching contact Angelika

905-286-9466

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