“To truly be committed to a life of honesty, love and discipline, we must be willing to commit ourselves to reality.” -John Bradshaw
As we move toward wholeness, uncovering the family shadow becomes imperative. Uncovering the family shadow integrates your life experiences and is a period of healing, self-discovery and empowerment. You feel that you have more of your Self with you.
The family shadow, encompasses all the parts of our family life that are unknown, kept secret, and/or are intentionally or unconsciously repressed. Most families and individuals will emphasize the positive aspects of their families while the more challenging events and facts are often put ‘under the rug’. When the family shadow is unattended to, we can unconsciously recreate the unproductive patterns that create problems in our adult lives.
Uncovering the family shadow entails coming to reality by seeing and acknowledging what really happened in our childhood and perhaps what continues to happen in our adult life. As a child growing up in a family, we unconsciously pick up patterns that we see as ‘normal’ that greatly impact how we think and behave in adulthood. While some of these patterns may be helpful to our maturity, some may be detrimental. Often as adults, we do not notice how detrimental these patterns may be until a stressful life event occurs and forces us to look at how we are currently living, life we lived to get to that point and how we can shift the pattern to create something new.
Often, we think, “the past is in the past”. However, we carry our early family life with us everywhere we go. We revisit it through major life transitions such marriage and having our own children. Our earliest patterns may reoccur with colleagues and friends. Uncovering the family shadow allows one to see the past in the present. In being able to witness these behaviors and thought patterns, if we are willing, we can do act differently in ways that can bring more satisfaction, joy, and love into our lives.
In uncovering my family shadow, I have seen myself through a clear lens; both the good and the dysfunctional patterns in my life. I have been able to work through limiting beliefs and have developed healthy ways of relating and loving myself and others. This work has allowed me to look objectively at patterns that have gone on for generations and choose to continue the positive life enhancing qualities while healing and letting go of those that were no longer serving my growth. From this place in my life, I feel empowered and able to live life on my own terms while regarding and relating to my family with love and compassion.
- What parts of my family life do I feel I would benefit from addressing?
- In what ways have I replicated patterns in my family?
- How I might I benefit from working with a trained professional in uncovering my family’s shadow?
© Joshua Watson
Photo Credits: Public Domain Pictures