When to Embrace the Shadow
Originally published in Coaching for Transformation
Honoring all parts becomes a way of life. Whenever we see or hear parts that are out of alignment, we can bring them in by asking them to speak. We’ll notice misalignment because we’ll hear polarized voices vying for attention. It’s only natural for parts that value the status quo to block the parts that want to make changes. When our clients experience internal conflict, this pathway is a form of internal mediation.
They may experience internal conflict at many levels: mental, emotional, physical and behavioral.
I think I want to work with children / What if I can’t make a living? (mental)
I’m excited to move forward / I’m afraid to take action. (emotional)
I really want to leave this firm / When I start to write my resignation letter, I get a headache. (physical)
My goal is to start a group for LGBTQQ allies / I haven’t asked anyone to join. (behavioral)
Through practice, the nuances of Embracing the Shadow will come. Our protectors naturally have reactions. They may be skeptical or block us, but with patience, we can do the inner work at the pace our internal system can handle. Our continual deep inner work supports our outer work. When we transcend our limiting beliefs we can work at a much deeper level.
Imagine having the skills to help people hear these discordant voices, and create sacred space for each part to be heard and unified, so that people awaken to greater wisdom, energy and possibilities.
Some parts have no desire to be transformed—they were activated to help us deal with very challenging or even dangerous situations and they are serious about protecting us. But we learn to work with parts that are highly resistant to change by opening our hearts. When in doubt, love the part. Get curious. Honor the part’s wisdom.
Genuine connection comes from accepting each part exactly as it is, and acknowledging the importance of its role. That alone often leads to the golden sigh—that moment when shift happens. Ironically, transformation happens more often when we accept what is, not when we press for change.
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