We need to embrace our dark side and not try to eliminate it because we all have a Darth Vader living within us. The shadow is where the Force resides.

Photo by Julian Florez on Unsplash

“Where there is light, there is darkness.”

#GranPa

When I was a child, I would try to run away from my shadow. I was maybe 8 years old.

As a 40 years old man, I try to run from my shadow also. But, this time, it is different.

We all have been there. We try to shed light only on parts of our public profile that will make us feel important or successful.

For most of my life, I have tried to be the perfect student in high school. I also tried to be the employee of the month.

I failed each time because of self-sabotage. I was pouring so much energy to try to fit an ideal that I thought was what the world wanted to see.

Often when people talk to me about Africa (which is not a country!) or Senegal, they always have the same sentence: “You are so positive, always smiling even if you have so little.

I have been trapped in the Black, positive persona, always smiling and being positive.

It is exhausting. It takes me so much energy. For the past 5 years, at work or in my private life, I have been working on embracing my dark side.

I want to let the world know that my shadow is part of who I am. I even have many shadows that were shackled deep underground.

I am working on setting them free. I am a nice guy, most of the time. I can also be an asshole sometimes.

I am religious. I pray. I am also a “sinner”. Because for me, life is not always about sacrifice and expecting heaven after death.

Before I tell you more about my shadows, let’s meet the elephant in the room.

What is a shadow? How does it work? Why do we need to free it?

Often, when we think of our shadow, we see it as an evil character in our life story.

Yet, a shadow is closer to life than ever. Indeed life is neither bad nor good. It just happens.

Often we want to get rid of our shadow. And when we do that, we throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Let me explain.

1. What is a shadow?

Yes, the shadow is where we stuff our rejected aspects. All the things that we believe that the world doesn’t need to see are buried there.

Do you know what else is in our shadow?

Our untapped potentials. Yes, that is the baby in the shadow bathwater.

Shadow = Rejected Aspects + Untapped Potentials.

And what the equation above tells us is that we have not one but multiple shadows within us.

Like in the movies like Identity, and more recently Split, we all are accompanied by our other identities, our “shadows” until death do its part.

2. How does it work?

We and our shadows share 4 essential things:

  • We have our wants. So do each of our shadows.
  • We have our needs. So do each of our shadows.
  • We have our agendas. So do each of our shadows.
  • We have our perspectives. So do each of our shadows.

The “want” is what we desire, and we believe that will make us happy. But, unfortunately, this “want” or desire is often something outside of us.

Desiring to be rich or famous are examples of “want.”

The “need” is what will make us happy. This “need” is internal and often has to do with trying to overcome an internal flaw.

The “agenda” is the modus operandi or MO that is specific to us. We all have our unique way of doing things.

The “perspective” has to do with how we see the world through our opinions, beliefs, and experiences.

Imagine that your mind is a plane. And you and all of your shadows are in that plane.

You are the pilot. Well, there is one caveat. Your shadows are fragments of you. So they are pilots too.

Each of you may have different needs, wants, agendas, or perspectives.

And each time you try to silence one of your shadows, they will try to steer the plane in their direction. The crash is unavoidable.

Conflicts, limiting beliefs, self-sabotage are all “crashes” from a disagreement between you and one or more of your shadows.

3. Why do we need to free it?

Our shadows are here because we created them and nurtured them to serve us at some point in our life.

Our shadows have unique skills. They are the agents of our unconscious universe. They are neither heroes nor villains.

We are the ones labeling them as such.

By default, we think that our shadows are just the villains in our life stories.

Yet, some of them can be the heroes we need in some situations. They can be the manifestation of the untapped potentials buried deep down within us, by us.

By following the 3 steps below, we can leverage them and free them to be limitless:

a. Give them back their identity and get to know them.

b. Create an inclusive space for them.

c. Let them have their spot in your life.

a. Give them back their identity and get to know themyour shadows live in your unconscious mind. You live in your conscious mind.

Explore your unconscious mind. Go visit them. Call them by their name. They are your friends. They are you.

b. Create an inclusive space for themseek to understand them first. Listen to their needs, wants, agendas and perspectives.

Spend time with them so that you can see the world in their eyes. Make them your best allies, and they will serve you well.

c. Let them have their spot in your life — make it less about you and more about them and you.

Make sure that you have your ego in check when dealing with them. Use their superpowers when the situation requires it. Share the spotlight with them.

Only by integrating our shadows as part of us as a whole, we can access our untapped potentials.

As long as we keep them as hostages in our unconscious mind, they will do whatever they can to sabotage us and our lives.

I am a nice guy. I am a giver. I forgive. I smile. I see the world through positive lenses by default. I will always seek the best in people, first.

Sometimes I am an asshole. Sometimes I am a taker. Sometimes I am the “tit for tat” guy.

Sometimes I am selfish. Sometimes I am stubborn. Sometimes I don’t change my mind even when provided with new evidence.

Sometimes I take what I feel is right for me. Sometimes I don’t forget. Sometimes I don’t forgive.

Sometimes I break the rules: religious or not. Sometimes I lie because I prefer to be kind and not right.

Because I make room for all my shadows, I limit the conflict within myself. I summon my shadows when I feel like the situation requires it. Then, I go backstage and leave them with the stage of my life.

Because no matter how fast I can run, I cannot outrun my shadows.

And why should i?

After all, they are here at my service if I know how to ask.

Let us all awaken the giants from within!

Are you in conflict with your shadow side?

Are you feeling like you are not operating at your full potential?

Why are you trying to ignore the hidden part of the iceberg?

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📖 Griot 🧙🏿‍♂️Mentor 🦄 Intrapreneur 💪🏿 Entrepreneur