Reconciliation of the heart - part two
October 22, 2016
“The shadow self seems to be the opposite of love. Actually it is the way to love.” Deepak Chopra
My book Living in the Shadow of the Too-Good Mother Archetype explored the meaning of the shadow and addressed many of the unconscious beliefs held by mothers today. In my upcoming book Reconciliation of the Heart, I address the common shadow aspects that many of us, not just mothers, have still haunting us.
In my personal and professional life I have witnessed many examples of ways that we carry around hidden ghosts in our unconscious memories. These unconscious belief systems may affect us in all areas of our life. Relationships, career, family, and personal well being are simply a few places where the shadow can influence our choices in ways we can’t quite recognize or understand.
The origin of most dysfunctional belief systems is fear. Prior to the 20th century, survival was the key component of daily life. People had to protect themselves and their families, often fighting for food, shelter, power and survival. Lifespans were very short and the world certainly was not connected to the Internet!
Today we have many luxuries that our ancestors did not have. One of these luxuries is time to explore our emotional self. With modern technology, education, medical advances and appliances that shorten the amount of time spent on survival, we can now pay more attention to the deeper aspects of who we are as whole human beings. But do we?
We seem to be staying very busy and wanting things very fast. Are we simply avoiding looking at the shadow and facing the ghosts that have been haunting us for generations? I believe the best way to reconcile our hearts and return to love is by facing the shadow and looking profoundly and deeply into our hearts.
Finding the self-love that many of us lack as we reach out and grasp whatever is quick and easy to fill the void, and ease the pain, is rarely talked about. We dance around it as if we are all supposed to be okay. When the truth is, most of us are not okay. Addiction is rampant in our culture. The opiate epidemic affecting way too many of our young adults is a perfect example of the attempt to find a quick fix for the pain. We fear the shadow, and then we run and hide.
Psychologist Carl Jung once said, “What we resist persists, and often grows stronger.” Many of us stay stuck in old dysfunctional patterns based on fear because we are unwilling to make the commitment and do not have the tenacity to stay the course. Willingness, commitment and tenacity are crucial elements in reconciling the heart. Let’s look at these three aspects of reconciling the heart a little closer:
Willingness to face the whole self — light and dark, knowing this is the only way to self-love. When we stop running from our wounds and our self-judgments, we can then acknowledge our willingness to face the shadow and be vulnerable as we begin to look at the parts of us that are hidden from fear and shame.
Commitment — to stay the course even when it gets hard and seems emotionally intolerable. It is so easy to go back to old patterns. Making a commitment is saying yes to the process and staying the course even when it is tough to face the pain.
Tenacity — to take it to the next level of healing. Declaring the past is over and no longer influencing us. Staying and not running away or looking for the quick fix. Taking all the time we need to do the work to return to self love and reconcile our hearts.
In my psychotherapy practice, I invite my clients into the process of being willing, making a commitment and having the tenacity to stay the course. This means having to face parts of themselves in a way they have never done before. I believe this is the only way to return to love and reconcile the heart. I also believe it is worth every second of the time and effort.
Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series based on Dr. Ashley’s upcoming book “Reconciliation of the Heart”. Last month, Dr. Ashley shared what it means to reconcile the heart and return to love. For more information on the book and a retreat Ashley is hosting at The Niwot Inn Oct. 28-30, email [email protected], call 720-565-3388 or visit pattiashley.com.