Last night, over at the Starling Witches Facebook group, we talked about how some of those negative pieces of our shadow might actually not be our baggage to carry. Sometimes, things are thrust on us through trauma.
So how do you heal those wounds and get rid of those behaviors that are tied to the trauma? Don’t worry… this isn’t some love and light bullshit, okurrt? So I’m not about to shove that whole forgiveness blah blah blah ish down your throats. I will never sit in front of you and try to convince you that your abuser deserves to be forgiven.
But forgiveness is still an important piece of shadow work. And people shy away from it because they don’t truly understand forgiveness. It’s not about forgiving and letting that person back into your life to hurt you all over again. The forgiveness that I’m talking about is forgiving yourself for the things that you did to survive the trauma. Letting go of any guilt that you feel for the way you responded to the trauma and challenges that you’ve been given.
Like, just to give you an example from my own brain… my big button pusher was and still kinda is condescension. I would see red when someone would condescend to me and it would just be on from there. And then, once I got into that Allie soup trying to be a motherfluffin’ butterfly I realized… I was condescending af. If I were angry or annoyed, I would soooo so often end up condescending to whomever I was arguing with.
So what happens when you get into shadow work and you start realizing some of those pieces of your shadow self are things that don’t serve you. Things that you’d rather get rid of? Like, for me… obviously I didn’t want to be condescending. I don’t like it done to me so why would I want to do it to others??? First and foremost, I traced that behavior back to its original wound (father wound, yikes!) and I did a lot of journaling and thinking surrounding the healing of that wound.
But emotional healing requires physical, real life change too.
It’s not always an easy process but I started with just trying to catch myself doing it. It’s not always easy when the behavior is triggered by strong emotions but be proud of yourself for catching that behavior even if you catch it after it’s already happened. I made it a point for myself, instead of taking the approach that it’s already happened so why bother apologizing for it, I made sure I was apologizing sincerely and naming the thing that I was apologizing for.
Then, little by little, I got better at catching myself in the moment and stopping myself as it was happening.
It’s not perfect. It’s 100% still a work in progress but it’s easier and easier the more you practice. Remember, growth isn’t supposed to be comfortable, after all.
What helped me was forgiving myself for not always acting in ways that were in line with who I wanted to be. Forgiving myself for creating that behavior in the first place. And then physically making the change to quit that behavior.
One thing I found super helpful in forgiving myself is remember that I did the best that I could with the tools that I had at the time.
Repeat that with me. You did the absolute best that you knew how to with the emotional, mental and spiritual tools that you had available to you when those things were happening to you.
Last night, we talked about holding that mirror up to yourself and examining those pieces of you that don’t serve you in becoming the best you. But what do we do when those pieces are holdovers from behaviors and patterns that we took on because of trauma? Things that aren’t a piece of our personality or who we are, that maybe we’ve absorbed from a parent or guardian, bad relationship or toxic friendship?
We heal that wound.
What emotion does that behavior come from? Are you sure it’s not fear? Think about that for a while. So often, anger and other strong emotions are born out of a deeper fear. Once we can identify that fear, it’s a little easier to trace that fear back to its root wound.
So here’s your prompt… who wounded you? And how did you respond to that wound? What behaviors do you carry with you that are behaviors shaped by the trauma? How do they serve you? Do they damage your relationships with yourself, your friends and family? How can you forgive yourself for the ways that you responded to a situation that was toxic for you? What role did your own behavior play in that situation?