How Embracing your Shadow Leads to Wellbeing
As many of you know, I’ve been following the path of the wounded healer for several years now, and it’s infusing my work with a depth and richness that I had never imagined. This quote gives the best explanation of the wounded healer path and work that I’ve seen:
Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. It is our loneliness that helps us to find other people or to even know they’re alone with an illness. I think I have served people perfectly with parts of myself I used to be ashamed of.
-Rachel Naomi Remen
Progress, not Perfection
Like so many of us, I was scared of my shadow side, and even hid it from myself. My old tapes didn’t allow me to be anything less than perfect. Of course, as a human, I always was less than perfect, so my inner self-talk was a lot of self-judgment for the places where I didn’t “measure up.”
One of my teachers introduced me to the saying, “Progress, not Perfection,” and I’ve been using that as a kind of mantra when my old perfectionism tries to kick in. It’s so freeing to move out of the constrictions of trying to hold myself to a standard I could never reach.
Accepting & Embracing
Likewise, allowing myself not only to see my shadow side, and also to accept and even embrace it, has been just as freeing. The journey of the wounded healer is a journey toward integration and wholeness – of accepting and embracing all parts of oneself as part of my whole being.
It is often the shadow that allows me to connect deeply with another, to meet them where they are. And it’s in that meeting where the true healing takes place.
My hope is that each of us can embrace all of who we are, knowing that even our limitations can be a place where we and others may find the deepest healing.