The Shadow Side of Christmas

The Shadow Side of Christmas
Scene from the film The Grinch who Stole Christmas. Photo AFP

This time of year can be especially challenging for many people.  Gathering with family can be filled with love and joyful moments but also decorated with shadow figures held deep within our unconscious mind and that of the family mind.  The truth is that our families can be the greatest gift we receive this Christmas if we choose to see it.

So what is a shadow figure?  These are parts of ourselves that we have judged, rejected, and labelled as a negative aspect, not worthy as being part of our conscious mind.  As a result we either shut this part of us away or unconsciously act it out.  Some examples of shadow figures are the bully, the competitor, the judge, the martyr, the betrayer or the outsider and there are many more. Each of us having our own unique shadow blend conjured up from experiences of this life and others.  There also tends to be a strong blend of shadows figures prominent within your family mind.

So how do you know what’s there if you’ve hidden it so well?  Notice what you find yourself judging and rejecting within your family members.  This reaction is your indication that same shadow is hidden within your mind as well.  These family members are your mirror into the hidden part of you that may be holding you back from the life you desire.  So if you find yourself condemning Uncle Bob for his actions or feeling superior to your sister Sue, this is an opportunity to look deep within to find that aspect in your own mind and heal it.  Sure you can just ignore them, but putting on the ‘good person’ role while suppressing the shadows within will only give them more power. They will exhaust your energy and stir up anger towards others.

If we don’t take the opportunity to heal, we will judge, possibly attack, others for the shadow they are showing us.  Then we end up feeling guilty for the attack, judge ourselves, and end up in a downward spiral of self-attack.  You can change the family conflict that has been perpetuated for decades by recognizing that what you are seeing is just a reflection of what you believe about yourself.  Dropping each shadow will open your eyes to a new and brighter world because you are no longer filtering thru those dark concepts.

Exploring the shadow side of Christmas isn’t something new.  A couple of well-known characters are Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge back in 1843 in the novel A Christmas Carol and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch character in How a Grinch Stole Christmas from 1957.  The popularity of these characters tells us that people can related to their story and to the transformation that is possible with the right support and recognition.

There are many ways to work with shadow figures and I’ll touch on a few here. 

First, when you’re triggered by a shadow aspect in others take a look to see if you can find that aspect within yourself.  It may not be easy to acknowledge or find as these are parts you’ve worked hard to reject, but just the act of doing so can relinquish some of its power over you.

Next, the healing part contains and outer and inner focus.  The outer focus is on forgiving the other person who is representing the shadow for you.  It is not excusing bad behavior but rather recognizing they are only operating from their own unhealed self.  Seeing this can give you room to feel compassion for the wounded person that is acting out from that dark place.  Your forgiveness can sometimes carry enough strength to not only free you but also them from the binding shadow. 

The inner focus of healing happens within your mind.  The shadow figure is just a misguided part of ourselves that has been trying to help in some way.  See if you can accept its intentions and release it from any further ill-advised duties so that it can become pure energy again and merge again with your whole-self.  Self-forgiveness and forgiving the shadow aspect releases this stuck and draining energy.  As you let it go, you are able to move forward with more light and ease.   These shadows are not your Truth, so you can even imagine slicing thru them with a Sword of Truth if you feel the need for a stronger action approach to dissolving them.  You will regain the energy that was wrapped up in the expression and repression of the shadows. 

Finally, call on others for support in the releasing process if you need help.  There are many supportive beings that can help you work thru this type of process in physical and non-physical forms.  Whether you prefer to work with a therapist, your coach or a guardian angel, it is always a good thing to reach out for help when you need it.

The choice is yours how you experience this Christmas with your family.  You can choose to accept the gifts your family are offering you. It may look like a shadow figure but transformed, you receive the gift of freedom.  Let’s make these ‘shadow mirrors’ THE gift to have and heal this Christmas!

Written by Robin Harris, A Conscious Connection