Thursday, May 21, 2009
Integrating the Shadow: A Method
The following is a brief description of the process by which we dissociate from shadow elements of our personality and experience, followed by a method for helping to re-integrate those disowned elements of ourselves.
The 1-2-3 Dissociative Process
• In the first phase, we experience but reject the shadow characteristic
• In the second phase we project the shadow outside of ourselves
• In the third phase, the shadow becomes an “it,” an object separate from us.
The 3-2-1 Integrative Process- a means of identifying and re-owning the dis-identified and repressed elements.
The 3-2-1 Shadow Work Process, Integral Life Practice (2008), Wilber, Patten, Leonard, & Morelli (pp. 50-51)
Two ways of identifying the Shadow:
• “Makes you negatively hypersensitive, easily triggered, reactive, irritated, angry, hurt, or upset. Or it may keep coming up as an emotional tone or mood that pervades your life.” (p. 50)
• “Makes you positively hypersensitive, easily infatuated, possessive, envious, over attracted, or becomes an ongoing idealization that structures your motivations or moods.” (p. 50)
1- Face it
Observe the disturbance closely and then using a journal, or the “empty chair” describe the person, situation, or sensation in vivid detail using 3rd person pronouns such as “he,” “him,” “she,” “her,” “it,” “they,” etc. In order to bring the disturbance to light, you might intentionally exaggerate what bothers you most by using as much detail as possible.
2- Talk to It
Enter into a simulated dialogue with this object of awareness using 2nd person pronouns (“you” and “yours”). This is your opportunity to enter into relationship with the disturbance, so talk directly to the person, situation, image, or sensation in your awareness. You may begin by asking questions like, “who/what are you?” “What do you need to tell me?” “What gift are you bringing me?” Using your imagination, allow the disturbance to respond back to you, allowing yourself to be surprised by what emerges in the dialogue.
3- Be It
Now writing or speaking in the 1st person, using the pronouns “I,” “me,” “mine,” be the person, situation, image, or sensation that you have been exploring. See the world, including yourself, entirely from the perspective of that disturbance and allow yourself to discover not only your similarities, but how you are really one and the same. Finally, make a statement of identification: “I am _____” or “_____ is me.” It is natural to feel resistant to accepting this because after all, this is what your psyche has been resisting for quite some time.
It is very important to move from an intellectual to an affective acceptance of the disowned elements, so that the process of integration can be completed. Once this occurs, you may notice a felt sensation of expansion, of increased energy, a sense of peaceful and grounded wholeness.