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Recently me and my guy visited Paris for a short break. In my head I was picturing the romantic city I’d seen in films and imagining myself as the leading lady who gets the perfect romance and lives happily ever after. However, it was far from the idyllic walks down the Champs Elysee, eating croissants and gazing longingly into each others eyes over a bottle of red. Paris instead brought messiness, triggers from the core of me and events which nearly broke our relationship apart. The City of Love, it seems, brings so much more than what we truly believe love is. It brings events which rock you at a soul level and make you really fight for what you want. Paris re-framed what I understood love to be and taught me how to love at a deeper level and my most vulnerable insights are being shared below.

THE FLIGHT OF THE VICTIMS

I’m sure you grew up with some of the same lessons that I grew up with. Its not OK to be angry, it not OK to feel jealous, its not OK to be sad. How often as a child did you get told to stop crying? Whether it was from a place of love or scold it was still a lesson that tears are not needed or are not a correct form of expression. As I’ve grown up I’ve also come to learn that my inner victim is not needed, is not good and I need to keep it under wraps. I think most people have an inner victim; it’s that poor me voice inside that wonders why the world is against them, why nothing can go right and just makes you feel so sorry for yourself. All of these “negative” emotions that we feel and project into the world are from our shadow side yet we’ve learned to bury it and be ashamed of that part of us. There were several moments in Paris where my shadow side came into play and it took centre stage. Now, my guy does not enjoy flying and until he met me he didn’t even own a passport! A few months before our flight to Paris we had flown to Spain to visit my Grandad. That flight had gone extremely well and I’d really planned everything out so that my guy could have a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Because his first flight had gone so well I just assumed he would be fine from then on (naive I know) but that was not the case. From the morning I picked him up until the moment we arrived at the hotel he was antsy, anxious and on edge. The journey to the airport was hard, the time at the airport was a nightmare and the flight was tense silence. If you then take all of that and add on a two hour delay in transfers from the airport to the hotel I’m sure you can imagine the state of us. I felt like I’d done my best throughout the process to support him and I was triggered so much that our holiday had started with such hard and unwanted energy. So of course I blamed him for that. We got to the hotel, checked in and found our room. I then proclaimed that I was walking into the city alone to collect some passes we had ordered. Of course my guy wasn’t leaving me to wander a new city by myself so he said he’d come to. By this point he’d let go of all the airport and flying stuff because we’d landed safe and got where we needed to be. But man I was hanging onto that stuff hard! I protested that I didn’t want him coming with me because I didn’t want him spoiling anymore of my holiday and went on to explain all the ways he was ruining my holiday (harsh words I know). Of course I lost the argument and he came with me and we spent some time walking off the tension and allowing ourselves to enjoy the afternoon in the city.

THE CHOICES OF THE IMPARTIAL

The next day we had the most amazing time riding the tour bus around the city and visiting some amazing places like Notre Dame (my absolutely favourite place), the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and Musee d’Orsay. After we came out of the last museum we were hungry (big trigger) and in an unfamiliar part of the city where we weren’t sure about restaurants. I also don’t eat meat so this played a big factor on where we could eat because a lot of the places we looked at didn’t do non meat options. We wandered the streets for about an hour and it went something like this “Do you like the look of this menu?” “Maybe what do you think?” “It looks OK, do you want to try here or look at the next place” “Lets look at the next place and see what they do” And this was the conversation for pretty much every place we looked at. As you can probably guess we were hungry and starting to get really pissed off with each other. I was so annoyed at him because he wouldn’t make a decision, even though I wasn’t willing to make one either and he was feeling the same with me. By this point I was at full on meltdown mode and just sat on a bench and cried as I said “I’ve spent more of this holiday upset because of you then I have happy”. My full victim mode came into play and it was projected all over my guy. Completely triggered by me making him a persecutor, he walked away from me. I sat there for about 10 minutes dancing in my own pity party before realising what had happened and phoning him. I went and met him and gave him a big hug and apologised. We then spent the evening enjoying a lovely meal before spending our last day visiting the Moulin Rouge, the Catacombs and the Sacre Coeur. 

YOUR SHADOW MAKES YOU WHOLE

So, why am I sharing this story? As I’m sure you can see from what you’ve just read, my shadow side came out and took control of the situation. I projected my anger and hurt onto him and made myself a victim of his behaviour. But I also completely shamed him for having anxiety and made him feel awful and guilty about his worries and his own more negative emotions. Sometimes that happens in life and it can be hard to know how to come back from those situations and where to go next. What I realised is that in those moments, I was actually angry, frustrated and upset with myself. I was angry at myself for not considering his needs more. For not putting the same care and attention into this flight as well. I was frustrated that our food choices differed and made it harder to find places to eat. I was upset because we were both putting each others needs before our own so we couldn’t get it right. I was angry at myself for trying to be the perfect girlfriend all the time. I was angry at myself for not getting it right. I was angry. I was upset. I was playing the victim. And I was trying not to be those things because anger, frustration, victim and tears are bad. I was fighting my negative emotions with more negative emotions and it created such a fire inside my body that had become so big I couldn’t put it out. All that energy being put into suppressing who I really was and what I was really feeling wasn’t working for me. I’ve done all this amazing work on accepting, loving and celebrating myself yet I’ve still being hiding that part of me that’s dark. I’ve been ashamed of my shadow. I’m sure you’ve seen the Ying and Yang Symbol. If you take away either side of that it is no longer whole. And that is just like us. We are the Ying-Yang. We are made up of light and dark and it is accepting, embracing and loving both sides of us that make us whole. Are you here to be half of who you truly are or do you want to be whole? 

F.E.E.L

If you, like me, have struggled with your shadow and have been keeping that part of you a shameful secret then here are the steps that I have personally used.

1. Forgive It is OK to struggle, it is OK to get it wrong and it is OK to get upset. Learn to forgive yourself in those moments. If you imagine a mistake you have made recently and turn that mistake into a pebble. Start carrying that pebble around with you. To start with you are aware of it but as time goes on your hand gets tired, your arms get sore and you become exhausted from not being able to put the pebble down. That is exactly what carrying your mistakes does to your body too. Hanging onto them and carrying them with you is going to drain your energy and tire your body quickly. Now I know forgiving a mistake might not feel that easy for you now but it is possible to practice and become stronger in how to forgive. The key is to realise what you are really angry/upset/hurt about and then repeat “Even though I feel ____ because ____, I love and accept myself completely” So an example would be “Even though I feel angry because I can’t speak my truth right now, I love and accept myself completely” Breathe in, breathe out and repeat. It won’t take long for the situation to be released and forgiveness to be let in.

2. Embrace   Embrace and Accept that you feel this way, that it happened. Embrace the shadow, the part of you that is hidden. Speak out about the shame you’ve felt and share your story. Embracing yourself and the part of you you’ve been working hard to hide is so key here. The world needs you WHOLE. You are here to do great things and you are an amazing person so embrace yourself, accept yourself and love yourself.

3. Express When we fear our shadow side and try to hide it, it is often because we have a past memory about how that feeling/expression looks. For example, if you think about being angry does it conjure an image of someone shouting at you, hurting you or doing something that really upset you? That is not an expression of your emotion, that is an act of emotion and there is a difference. I can feel angry and express my anger or I can feel angry and act on my anger. Feeling angry and acting on anger looks like the picture we discussed above – you project onto someone else, you make it the fault of  someone else and you try to hurt them with your anger. When you feel angry and express that anger it looks a little different. Yes I may be a bit tense still and not as warm or open as I normally am. However instead of shouting or acting on it I express it by saying “Right now I’m feeling angry and what I need is some time and space to process that” You can change that sentence to meet whatever feeling you are having and whatever you need. For example “right now I am feeling lonely and what I need is a hug”. That way people know how you are feeling and they know how to support you whilst you express and process the feeling.

4. Love This is the key step that you can never miss out because it ties everything else together and keeps the process whole. Love. Love yourself, love your feelings and love every part of you that feels them. A great exercise that I often get my clients to do is to get a sheet of A4 paper and write about what you are going through on it however every sentence has to start with the phrase “I love myself even when I….” So many of my clients have had their awareness raised and have got amazing shifts through this exercise alone so I would definitely recommend giving it a go.

Get in Touch These steps are an amazing tool to also use in other aspects of your life and in other areas of your journey (whether that is with yourself, food, body image, partner, work etc) and my F.E.E.L process is something I dive deeper into during my one to one programmes with clients. If you feel called to find out more then I offer cost free and sales free 30 minute calls. Get in touch today to book yours.

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