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  • Mark Brafield

Oprah and the shadow


Carl Jung often wrote about the Shadow, that dark part of ourselves that we must come to terms with and assimilate if we are to become complete individuals. More than this, if we can make friends with our Shadow selves, this part of our personality can become a valuable resource with its powerful energy.

I was recently reading an extract from Oprah Winfrey's book 'The Path Made Clear; Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose' (Bluebird, 2019) in which she takes a new and helpful approach to the same age-old problem.

She writes about being gripped with fear when invited to give a speech at Harvard, that fear expressing itself as procrastination and then guilt.

Oprah writes -

'Months later, during a conversation with the author Steven Pressfield, I was finally able to make sense of those feelings. Steven said: "The more important an activity is to your soul's evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it." He explained that no matter the dream, the shadow of resistance is inevitable. It's like the yin and yang - you can't have the dream without the shadow. So, the more importance I placed on the Harvard speech, the stronger the resistance.

This was a big "aha" moment for me. And it was incredibly comforting. It meant that there was no point in blaming myself for my anxiety, because what I was experiencing was actually a spiritual law. The worries running around in my head were nothing more than the natural force of negativity at work, that shadow that lives in all of us trying to convince us of our unworthiness "You're not good enough," or, "What do you think you have to say to the kids at Harvard?" Understanding this changed everything. It was as though a cloud had lifted !

Steven's theory was a totally new way of looking at fear: for every dream, there is automatically going to be resistance. But your sheer will and desire can be stronger than the shadow. You get to decide. You get to declare, "I want this," and confront the fear head on'.

Don't blame yourself for anxiety. Confront the fear head on.


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