I’m about to show you how you can use what others mirror to you, to accelerate your personal growth.
It was Carl Jung who first said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.
Life is a duality of light and dark, strength and shadow. There is nothing that is actually good or bad; it’s only our judgement of it that makes it so. Everything in the universe contains both, whether we choose to see it or not.
This contrast of light and shadow is the greatest gift of life. And our greatest tool to accelerate the evolution of our consciousness.
What is Shadow Work?
Our shadow is the sum of our qualities, characteristics, attitudes and beliefs that we are not consciously aware of. There may be many reasons for not being aware of our shadow, many of which relate to the unconscious survival strategies that we adopt throughout our lives. Our shadow aspects that are not in our conscious awareness are there because we have denied, disowned, or pretended that they don’t exist – although this is usually done unconsciously.
So shadow work involves shining a light into areas of our psyche we have dared not explore consciously before. It’s humbling. It’s brave work. And it’s crucial for our well-being and our growth and evolution. The shadow aspects that are not illuminated and resolved will play out in unhealthy and dysfunctional behaviour, unwanted thought patterns, uncomfortable emotions, and / or toxic relationship dynamics.
Our shadow selves are constantly looking for resolution, and the unwanted thoughts, behaviours and emotions are the signals that there is shadow work to be done.
When we do the work of integrating our shadow, we are doing the work of alchemy and our soul is ecstatic.
The Mirror of Shadow
One of the best ways to uncover our shadow aspects to be healed is to use other people as our mirror.
Here’s how to turn irritations into gold for your personal evolution.
5 Steps to Grow from People who Bother You
- Think of someone who annoys you, bothers you and/or gets under your skin.
- What are the personality traits that that person has that bothers you?
- For each trait you listed, imagine another person you don’t know who has that trait, and ask yourself, what is this person really good at because of this trait? Identify the strength(s) associated with each annoying trait listed in step 2.
- Do a self-assessment on each of the strengths you have listed. Ask yourself, “In what ways does this trait exist in me?” followed by “What do I need to acknowledge and own in myself about this trait in order to be balanced and healthy?”
- Commit to action. What is the action step I need to take to bring this character strength into balance within myself?
Here is an example:
|Annoying Personality Trait||Bossy||Needy|
|Strength(s) of that Trait||Knows what needs to be done,|
Gives directions well,
Mobilizes others to action
|Asks for help easily,|
Is open to receive,
Makes people feel good, appreciated
|In what way does that Trait exist in me?||I can be assertive and directive||I pride myself on not needing anyone, being strong and independent|
|What do I need to acknowledge in myself about this Trait?||I was teased about being a know-it-all at school and now I see that being authoritative is a strength||Deep down I want to be nurtured and supported because I was left to fend for myself as a kid|
|Action Step||Sign up for a team leadership role on a volunteer project||Ask Jack for help on the bank project to make deadline|
After doing this powerful exercise, the people who used to trigger you will no longer bother you. Simply rinse and repeat for other character traits or other annoying people!
The Mirror of Light
Of course, we also tend to not see and acknowledge our own light either. These steps can also be done using people you admire, although the Step 3 can be skipped because you will identify the strengths in Step 2. The Step 2 question becomes ‘What are the personality traits that that person has the you admire?”
I’d love to hear what you learned from this exercise. Leave a comment below and let me know.
Until next time,