A client recently took my advice and watched The Shadow Effect. It would be an understatement to say it impacted her. She said, “It blew my mind. This might sound strange, but I felt a shift in energy.”
It makes perfect sense, and here is why: the documentary includes many empowering metaphors, but my favorite is the Beach Ball Effect. What happens when we try to hold a beach ball underwater? It pops up! The same is true for any negative emotion we attempt to hide.
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to deny the qualities (anger, fear, etc.) that make us human. When we have the courage to be honest with ourselves (as my client did), we naturally free up energy. We live in such a “just think positive” culture. It’s a nice idea in theory, but as Debbie Ford once said, “you can put ice-cream on top of poop, but you’re going to taste the poop.”
Years ago, my mind was also blown watching the movie. The DVD I purchased included an experiential exercise. The first step was to ID my best quality, and how I demonstrate it in my daily life. Easy, I thought – helping other people, and I do that at work every day. The second step was to ID the exact opposite of my best quality, which I learned was one of my core shadows (i.e. traits I try to hide).
Let’s break this down. The opposite of helping is hurting, and the other person is me. Uh-oh! I always knew this on some level, but this little personal exploration made one uncomfortable truth abundantly clear. I help other people to cover up the fact that I beat myself up internally.
I know I’m not alone in this respect. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s an epidemic amongst healthcare professionals.
What’s the solution?
We must find the courage to be honest with ourselves. There is nothing wrong with any quality we have. In fact, as the movie teaches, they all come bearing gifts. But when we don’t have the courage to own all (not just the good) of our qualities, we can easily become victims of the Beach Ball Effect. I struggled many years for this reason.
I served people well before looking internally. But no words can describe the empowering impact that “shadow work” has made on my ability to connect and serve my clients.
The woman I mentioned finished our program today. She identified being honest (and aware of how she tricks herself) as the most important thing she learned. Anyone who watches and embraces the wisdom of this movie will have a much deeper appreciation for her experience.
ATTENTION EDUCATORS & STUDENTS:
My new book, The Clinical Success Formula: How to Reduce Anxiety, Boost Confidence, and Pass with Flying Colors will be coming out soon. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.