Tag Archives: self-confidence

The Shadow

Happy Sunday All

I discovered something about myself recently that I’m not sure I’m very proud of, But I felt the insight was worthy of sharing. I discovered the shadow in me. It peeked out of my bag and I, though fearful, allowed it out to play.

We all have one or two qualities that we know need some work, however to suddenly discover my shadow, let it out of my bag of ‘secrets’ and REALLY look at it was quite unnerving, but I was determined.

The Shadow

black-and-white-1282260_1280 (The Shadow – a trait or aspect of your personality that you repress or hide, for fear of criticism; a quality you are afraid to show & one which subconsciously prevents you living more expanded and joyfully).

Discovering this particular shadow, one I had suspected was there in moments when it peeked out of the bag, sent me off balance a little.

The term ‘Shadow’ was first used by Carl Jung to describe the repressed or denied part of the self. You see when we’re born, we use express with abandon and without censorship: All of our feelings and moods and quirks and foibles, without censorship or compunction, But we quickly come to learn that sometimes the way we express or parts of our personality are not valued or accepted by the people around us (and usually closest to us).

Recipe for creating The Shadow

Perhaps you were ridiculed and our opinion not taken seriously, or maybe you were shamed when upset and called names or your upset & pain ignored; perhaps you weren’t allowed to express your pride when you achieved something, perhaps you were criticised instead? There are may reactions to our words, deeds and behaviours that cause us to see them as ‘undesirable.’

Once we realise this part of us or this behaviour is not accepted, we decide to squirrel it away. We begin to repress it; hide those traits and qualities we see as shameful or undesirable, we learn to hide away the anything that caused us pain as a result of it being shown.

Hidden but not forgotten

hiding-1209131_1280Though we ‘squirrel’ these feelings away, somewhere in our psyche we still carry them with us. It’s as though we put a sack or our backs and continue to ‘lug’ these parts we are afraid to show, the denied parts, the parts we feel we need to repress around with us.

Every time you deny yourself their expression another is added to the bag, and another and another, until the bag becomes so heavy so burdensome we can become ill. Hopefully we become so angry or so tired of bending ourselves into a pretzel to suit whoever and whatever, your inner spirit finally shouts: ‘ENOUGH!’

woman-1043030_1280The shadow can be positive or negative.

  • Positive: You develop a positive habit in order to gain approval you may develop a habit which garners approval from those around you, but one which is not allowing you to be your ‘authentic self.’ Even though seen as positive, it is still a ‘shadow’ trait if it means you deny or repress what would be a natural response or behaviour for you. If you feel you’re somehow ‘holding back’ a natural part of yourself.
  • Negative: You are constantly straining to hide an undesirable ‘shadow’ trait that you’d prefer others didn’t see because you’re unconfident about it or feel others will see you negatively because of it.


Developing another way of behaving to avoid slipping into the behaviours you know others around you do not approve of (more often than not the criticism comes from a place of insecurity or jealousy on their part), is exhausting and damaging to the psyche and the emotions. Constantly hiding or denying a part of yourself is eventually going to cause you pain, but as a child, when you were disapproved of or criticised you didn’t understand that, did you?

My Shadow Revealed

I Am a People Pleaser

…even as I write it I wince! I feel a bit of a fraud


But, I know one thing, I want it exorcised and out of my bag!

This realisation didn’t come to me in a flash I had to dig for it.

It all started a few weeks ago ( I wrote this post several weeks ago, but was too afraid to post it – My shadow again!) when one of my blogs was selected to be the ‘Blog of the day’ for the ‘Wellness Universe; a forum and platform for Wellness Professionals and people like me who just want to do our bit to make the world a better place.

I was rightly proud, so I posted the link on Facebook, but three words I used in the intro to the post really seemed at odds and evoked an emotional response in me.

They were: ‘It’s no biggie’

I realised that I always DO that, but why?


I downplay my achievements and ‘play small.’ I strive to always DO THE RIGHT THING’ that way I will always win approval.

Yet my vision for my life, my future & me is to be HUGE. I know I have so much to give the world and my mission is to help others discover and show their light; to help them blind you with their brilliance and learn how to shine without excuse and to know how to do so much sooner than I.

Not too loudly, Not too bright, Not too high,

light-1375158_1280It’s not people pleasing in an obsequious or arrogant way you understand, (well, I hope not!) but in a way that I fly just under the radar and do not shine too brightly; a way that means I don’t not sing too sweetly, so others criticise or chastise, so it draws too much attention. For those of you that know me, you may well be surprised, as I’m not exactly known to be a shrinking violet, but there IS MORE!

Yet, how can I hope to fully realise my ambition to be a fully realised and authentic hue-man, How will I meet my ambition to help others be the same, if I am still NOT truly open, still not truly Stepping into my light?

I pondered this for some days and discovered my ‘why’ and my ‘how.’

Starting again, and again and again

I became a people pleaser so I didn’t feel the hurt anymore; so I didn’t feel the pain of the criticism, the ridicule and the disapproval, but it also meant I didn’t ever meet my potential in anything. I did just enough for people to recognise I have talent and I was always promoted, but I never really Pushed through into the stratosphere of true success.

Just as I would grow wings and would really begin to fly, I would change direction or I’d be made redundant and make myself start again, from the bottom up.

Where did this come from:

As young children perhaps you were not allowed to celebrate your successes, I wasn’t…


If we’re not given the chance to feel joy, not even the joy of just being ourselves as I was; or you’re expected to play the ‘big sister/brother’ role and always to:

  • Be sensible
  • Set the example
  • Know better
  • Do as you’re told
  • Not know too much
  • Speak when spoken to
  • Calm down (usually when we’re particularly happy)
  • Be quiet
  • Sit still
  • Don’t answer back
  • Respect your elders (which usually meant do what they say even if they’re wrong or are hurting you in some way)

Then somewhere in your subconscious you may have decided to play small.

I did…

  1. Because when I play small no-one gets hurt
  2. When I downplay my successes I don’t appear arrogant or ‘big-headed’
  3. When I play small I seem humble and self-effacing
  4. When I play small I’m less threatening
  5. When I play small I’m not criticised
  6. When I play small others approve of me (who doesn’t want their family and friends to look at them and be proud?)
  7. When I play small no-one has to explain my behaviour or make excuses for me
  8. When I play small society accepts me

I’m sure you get the picture

Enough, enough, enough, Enough!

cat-564202_1280I’d had ENOUGH I want to be fully realise, fully functioning, fully aware of & loving of myself; the whole 360’ of me.

By bringing our shadow into the light (that may simply be a share with one or two close friends or family or a wider more exposed announcement) we’re being the bravest version of ourselves we can be.

  • What qualities are you hiding?
  • What talents are you containing?
  • What feelings are you protecting out of fear?

When you expose your soft underbelly as well as hold yourself accountable for ALL that you are you are no longer afraid.

question-1301144_1280There is no criticism or that can hurt you, no ridicule or disapproval that causes you to wince, because they’re not revealing anything you don’t already know and recognise about you and guess what?

You’re working on it…

that’s the very best you can Do…

And that’s OK…

 Blissings & Much Love

Insightful Angel

Be nice...Sharing is caring!


Happy Sunday All,

Criticism & (dis) Approval

Sad-FaceThe other day I was chatting with a group of friends when the conversation turned to memories of childhood. Being criticised or a lack of approval seemed to be themes that arose and it was quite clear that even now, into their middle years, some of them still found it a challenge to respond to situations and emotions in a way they wanted to, rather in a way that was being driven by their experience of being criticised.

As we chittered and chatted it became clear that many of the people in the group still had varying degrees of challenge around self-identity and esteem due to the criticism they received as infants/children some, still experiencing acute insecurity and a lack of esteem despite significant accomplishments, when they thought about how their world had been shaped as children.

The Battleground

be-423796_1280As an educator, this is my battleground. It’s not so much the intellect, or attention span or environment though these are all factors. My fiercest foe when teaching others is the belief they have regarding who they are, what they are worth and what they deserve.

Being criticised is a MAJOR determiner when it comes to one’s emotional security, feelings of self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

The Psychology

social-media-550766_1280I think you’ll agree that the world-view of a child is mostly created by the attitudes and behaviours of its caregivers. A child comes to us with no information about the world so they tend to believe what they’re told. I mean our Santa Claus Myth and others exist because children are blank sheets of paper on which we, who came before them, can etch whichever pattern, design or words we choose.

If a caregiver told a child consistently that a sunflower was called a rose and they had no other reference for a Sunflower, had never seen one and had never heard another person name one, though WRONG they would of course believe it.

If they are subject to criticism, by the people who care for them and whom they come into additional contact with they will begin to believe it.

The Results:

As a result the child spends the rest of their life dealing with one of the following or several in combination.

  1. The first and most obvious one is a Lack Of Confidence – whatever the child is persistently criticised for will lead them to believing they are not very worthy and affect their interactions and relationships for a very long time if not for life. I’ve often had to intervene when a child who lacks confidence, despite the pain and humiliation of taunts & of intimidation feels unable to say ‘Stop’ because deep down inside they acquired the belief that somehow they ‘deserve’ this behaviour, that deep down inside they are intrinsically bad & not worthy of anything better.
  1. Being criticised causes a deep and painful Emotional Wound(s). This wound(s) will have an unconscious trigger(s) that reminds the child or indeed the adult of his wound causing the emotional pain to become more acute and deeply buried. To avoid feeling this pain they can adopt destructive behaviours either as a distraction or sedative. Anything but feel the pain and be reminded of their deep-seated flaw, which is their shame.shame-799099_1920
  1. Being criticised can make you feel aShamed. When we feel ashamed we can withdraw or retreat into ourselves and become uncommunicative. No child (or adult for that matter) who feels shame is able to express their emotions openly and honestly, as they do not feel worthy enough to do so, after all isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with them in the first place, something warped at their core? A person who feels shame fears taking risks no matter how beneficial that risk may be to their wellbeing or life in general. A person who feels shame is governed by FEAR because they live in the grip of a mortifying dread of anyone discovering that their inner being is somehow warped and ill-formed. Nonsense I know! But just as they were told a Sunflower was a rose, so they came to believe they’re somehow disgusting or despicable and unworthy of receiving anything good.
  1. One of the most common features I see as a result of criticism is the misbelief of their own personality. So many times I hear young people (and I have to say a few adults) say things like “I’m just not good/rubbish, I have anger issues…’ Here they are trying to prove the negative criticism the have now come to believe. On an unconscious level they sabotage themselves, by not studying, distracting themselves and others, walking out on examinations, so that the outward expression of who they think they (the no good/unteachable/angry/stupid/worthless) self matches the inner belief they have come to interpret as their truth.
  1. dualism-597093_1280Perhaps the saddest of all consequences is the criticised child’s inability to feel loved and develop a healthy emotional attachment to their parent/care-giver. Feeling unloved and worthless the child looks for love in other areas. According to Psychologists many Narcissists, sex addicts and manipulative and controlling adults have been deprived of love as children. The very act of ‘Looking’ for love is outwardly focused. If one cannot believe in and love the self, then it’s unlikely you’ll be satisfied with anything no matter how hard you search. When we participate in something from a place of need then we are open to manipulation. Others smell the need in us and use it to get from us whatever they want as the unworthiness we feel keeps us from defending, standing up for ourselves or choosing differently. OR, we risk becoming abusive as our ‘un-loveable-ness’ is made clear to us and becomes too painful to face.

A Plea

Hopefully this post has helped explain or shed light on some of the challenges you may have had as you grew into adulthood Once we are made aware of something then we are more likely to be able to face it and perhaps (and this is my hope) break any negative hold it may have on us.

toddler-878749_1280To those of you who interact with children & young people, my plea is that you help them to grow into strong, secure, self-loving individuals by showing them encouragement and using your words, actions and energies in a positive way in your interactions and relationships with them.

Children have a natural exuberance and belief in the good in us all – Speak to this. Yes, they need to be guided and shepherded, but if you do so with love; explain to them ‘why’ and not criticise, you will succeed in shaping full formed, balanced people who will grow up and become positive adults; believing in and contributing in a positive way to the world.

Just get rid!

IMG_0330Avoid criticism. Our delicate new souls are too young and fragile to endure it and no adult deserves nor needs to be triggered into re-living any criticism they may have been exposed to as children.

Look to yourself and remind yourself of the challenges you have had unravelling the negative results of criticism you may have received.

Remember people form their sense of identity and who they are in this world at a very early age. The results of criticism can stay with us for a lifetime.

Next week I hope to discuss this topic a little further and comment on the wider social effects of being critical.

Blissings & Much love

Insightful Angel

Be nice...Sharing is caring!