I have written in the past about partners carrying each other’s disowned energies and how children mirror our shadows for us. Another way to find out what is in your shadow is to take a look at your sibling(s). Sometimes the differences between two or more siblings are subtle but in many cases they are quite obvious. Often siblings carry each others opposites.
The older sister—or brother—might be, for example, over-identified with being the responsible one, the one who is more conservative, careful with money and striving to save up for sensible goals like buying a house. He or she might be the one who studies and works hard. The younger sister or brother then often steps into the opposite energy. He or she shows up as “irresponsible”, fun loving, care-free and able to spend money on an adventure or instant gratification. One sibling perhaps seems to live for the future, worrying that everything turns out the way he or she hopes. The other one lives in the present and does not dream of owning real estate or saving up for retirement.
Is one of them right and the other one wrong? Neither one has made the “better” choices, neither energy is bad. In fact, to be whole we need to feel we have a choice whether we want to be responsible in a situation or less responsible, whether we want to make a sensible choice for future safety or possibly a choice to enjoy the present moment. It is important to plan ahead; it is also enriching to feel care-free and to fully live right now.
Being identified with one energy while disowning the opposite energy, affects our relationships. Instead of truly supporting each other and being friends, the siblings usually end up judging in each other what they don’t allow themselves to be. The older sibling will judge the younger one as “irresponsible” and the younger one might call the older one “boring”. Meanwhile there is a part in both of them which longs to be whole, which feels resentful when the other sibling’s approach seems to give them an advantage. The older one, who feels he or she has worked so hard and always does what is expected might feel annoyed to see that the younger one gets through life alright, apparently without worrying about money and having so much fun. The younger one might secretly feel inferior and wish at times that she had savings or better grades or higher qualifications.
Yet, neither approach to life is right or wrong, neither is better than the other. Those are two different experiences of life, based on different choices and a result of the fact that they are both not fully conscious of how energy works.
Both are depriving themselves from being truly whole and having a free choice in each given moment in life who they want to be or what energy they want to display. What the other one mirrors to them, what they are irritated by and judge in the other sibling, is actually, as Hal Stone says “the medicine they need”.
Hal and Sidra Stone
The older sibling is not automatically the more serious and responsible one. John is the father of a 15 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. He has come for relationship coaching as he is greatly struggling with his son. He describes him as “disrespectful, irresponsible, messy, unreliable, not applying himself in school, lazy” or in short “incredibly irresponsible”. As John talks about his son, he is getting agitated and angry. It is palpable how much the teenager triggers him. When I ask him about his daughter, he smiles and his voice becomes soft. “She is good as gold”, he says several times. “She is always reliable and tidy and gets good marks in school. She helps around the house; she is always even tempered and so responsible. She is really good as gold.”
When I explain about opposite energies and shadows John has a hard time seeing how any of the traits his son displays could be useful energy or good in any way. He wants his son to be “good as gold” just like his daughter. However, that is not how energy works. The younger sister has taken on the brother’s responsible shadow and he is carrying his sister’s care free energy. Both children are not showing up as their whole complete selves. They have polarized into opposites and being labelled as “irresponsible” and “good as gold” manifests this situation. They don’t see a way out of this polarization. The daughter gets positive attention and affection by being a perfect little angel. The son gets attention by being the black sheep.
I ask John what happens when the daughter makes a mistake or gets a mark that’s not a perfect score. At first he says, “But that doesn’t happen! She is an A student across board!” Then he admits that she beats herself up for any mistake or less than perfect performance. She is tough on herself. She worries about the future too. She has a hard time relaxing, doing nothing for a few hours.
As parents we see this polarization between siblings from the outside. Often, we will look at one of them and feel more comfortable with their approach to life than with the other. We mustn’t forget that our children are a mirror for us as well, for what we don’t like about ourselves (our dark shadows) or what we maybe admire about others and think we are not (our light shadows).
It is our job to allow all our children to be whole. It is up to us to encourage a child who is identified more with responsibility or perfection to loosen up, to be okay with making mistakes, to enjoy life right now. And it is also our job to trust the child who shows up as more irresponsible that they are capable and willing to take responsibility for their actions. It is our—perhaps most difficult—task to allow them to learn their own life lessons. By embracing our own shadows which we see in them, we can come to a place of non-judgment and true unconditional love.
If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.
Would you like to understand the energetic dynamics in your family more? Is there a relationship you would like to improve? Do you want to stop being triggered by certain family members?
To learn more contact me (Angelika) for individual sessions or Shadow Energetics Workshops.
905-286-9466 (free phone consultation) or
For 2016 workshop dates and locations go to Upcoming Workshop.