Inner Authority and Confidence Through Creative Self-Expression and Shadow Work
Kate had a hidden, secret, second-self. Her Shadow.
Despite her success, Kate couldn’t shake the idea that women in her sales group were better than her: more sophisticated, better educated, more confident than she.
They were members of an “in-group” that she never felt invited to.
She worked super hard to get her children accepted to groups and clubs and schools where they would “belong.”
She always felt like an outsider at work events, school gatherings, and caught other moms giving her strange looks, and obsessed that they were judging her.
“Every time I hang out with other women at company events or conferences, I freeze up. I drink too much because I’m obsessed with how I look, always comparing myself to them.
And even though I’ve reached the Gold Circle and the top 10 people in sales at our company, I never feel like I’m good enough. I drink too much, eat too much, and can’t relax to make friends with people in a way that feels authentic. I just feel uncomfortable in myself.
It’s so weird, because I’m doing so well with my sales! People always comment on how authentic and easy-going I am in our business conversations, but when the attention turns to me in real opportunity for connection I get weird and start to feel anxious.”
Freezing up is caused by an inner insecurity where we aren’t able to express ourselves fully and honestly.
- Imagine you’re in front of a person or group of people whose opinion you care about.
- They’re all looking at you.
- Focus on how your body feels: do you feel physical signals like tightness, heart racing, sweating, or other feelings like you’re a deer in headlights?
- In this moment, do you feel like you can express yourself, while feeling these feelings?
The insecurity, awkwardness, and anxiety kills our ability to connect with others, and our creative thinking shuts down. It makes us so obsessed with how others might judge us, that we can’t be authentically generous and become overly self-focused. Which makes us feel more alienated.
Through our coaching conversations, K realized she was keeping herself from these relationships. We practiced and K was able to approach a couple of the women in her company that she wanted to connect with.
Kate asked if they’d be interested in forming a women’s group within the company, so they could support each other. She told them about her inner anxiety and what she was working on with her coach, and they immediately opened up:
They had also been feeling disconnected and wanted to create stronger relationships at work, with her! In fact, they both looked up to her and hoped they could learn more from her about how she had become so successful!
Kate has misjudged them: she had become so self-obsessed and withholding that there wasn’t an opening for the other women to approach her. Both sides were wrong about each other. And by bravely, vulnerably opening up to them, they were able to begin a new way of being together.
Insecurity seems to have a life of its own.
Inside each of us is a hidden, secret, second-self.
All those feelings of inadequacy, fear, and self-doubt, are our inner shadow.
It’s the part of us we try to hide.
The part we fear we’ll be judged for, if anyone knew the truth.
It’s everything about ourselves we don’t want to be, but fear we truly are.
It’s called The Shadow, because it follows us everywhere, which is why it’s impossible to get rid of. It’s your dark side, your ego, Bitch Brain, low-vibration self, and id. It’s the grotesque Mr. Hyde to our respectable Dr. Jekyll.
Your shadow impacts how you see yourself. It doesn’t matter if others see you as successful, beautiful, brilliant, and wonderful: if your shadow says you’re a reject, a loser, too fat, too old, or too lame, that’s what you’re likely to believe about yourself.
The Shadow is our insecurity, our Fraud Police, our Imposter Syndrome.
The only way to manage The Shadow is to integrate it.
AND, turn it into a source of strength.
This truth speaks to our most basic, shared human struggle:
We all want to feel worthy, loveable, and capable.
But we are the only ones who see our shadow, and we feel ashamed.
We feel so disgusted by our inner truth, we turn away from The Shadow and look outside ourselves for something that makes us feel worthy, loveable, capable, and valuable.
So we look to others to validate us, approve of our work, our ideas, our selves.
It’s why we get obsessed with celebrities and influencers, or the woman in our field who has a social media following twice the size of our own:
We think that because others focus on this person, that she has been validated and approved of. And we focus on the “vanity metrics” of follower size, or “likes.”
Our need for acceptance causes us to buy things we don’t really want, follow career paths we don’t truly care about, create things that aren’t our true calling because they’ve been validated by likes.
The shadow is an innate part of the human being, but most of us are willfully blind to its existence. We hide our negative qualities, from ourselves and everyone else.
To hide we might criticize others in an effort to take the attention off of ourselves. We go through life with a false sense of superiority and a belief that while others act badly or destructively, we ourselves are wholly virtuous and always in the right. But we know it’s not true, because a part of us is always aware of The Shadow.
No amount of approval from others can make you feel whole or worthy. Because no amount of outside validation can eliminate your inner Shadow.
We can’t escape it, because it’s always there, lurking beneath the surface, hiding behind our outer appearance, making us feel a failure, embarrassed, and weak.
When you need validation from people and metrics outside yourself, you give them your power. They become your ruler.
No matter what you do, you are always seeking this validation, which causes you to edit your ideas, your truth, your unique creativity. It makes us twist ourselves and silence our voices in order to hide The Shadow from everyone around us.
So every time you get into a group of people, or start to reveal yourself, you freeze in an effort to hide The Shadow within. You get unfocused, confused, or stop your forward momentum with expressing yourself.
What healers and psychologists since Carl Jung have known is that the way to heal our relationship to The Shadow is to embrace it, integrate it, and learn from it.
Embrace The Shadow, and Unleash Your Universal Spirit of Creative Self-Expression
Think back to when you were a kid, and felt free to express yourself. Maybe it was creativity, play, movement, or imaginative self-expression. When we are small, until we experience the first traumas of life, we have a feeling of freedom in our bodies and have no Shadow to hide.
We are connected to what I call the Universal Spirit of Creative Self-Expression.
We are filled with it when we’re young.
You see it in kids you know.
This Universal Spirit of Creative Self-Expression drives us to share who we are, what we think, and how we feel without filter, and uncaring of how others react, or what they might think about us. It causes us to share ourselves in a genuine, truthful way.
When you embody this Spirit, you speak and share yourself with clarity, depth, excitement, energy, and authenticity.
You become a channel, a conduit, for something greater, and Universally True.
We all feel it in different ways:
- Writing, speaking, singing, dancing, painting.
- Athletes get “in the zone.”
You’re speaking or acting from your deepest, truest self, because you are connected to this spirit, this energy, that we all have the ability to connect with.
As children we all naturally express ourselves from this Universal Spirit. As we grow into adults, we get injured, judged, and punished for our unique expression, and learn to hide it.
By the time we become teenagers we are obsessed with outside approval from our peers.
Then we have to hide anything about ourselves that might be judged as bad or weird.
And we use our hidden place to store all the things about ourselves that might, in any way, be unlikeable, unworthy, or unlovable.
So our inner, hidden self becomes a dumping ground, and we keep using our energy to hide within ourselves. Our least-favorite qualities become inextricably tied with who we truly are, down underneath all the outside show we put on for others.
And our Inner Truth turns into something we hate, our Shadow.
This means, dear one, that our Shadow holds the key to our true self, our inner authority and confidence, and our creative self-expression.
It takes powerful tools to unlock this gorgeous confidence.
The best tool I can share that I’ve used myself and with countless clients, is The Universal Spirit Creative Self-Expression. I call it Universal, because we are all able to access it. We all have it, just as we all have The Shadow.
- When I finally came clean and shared that I was eating meat again after being vegan for 10+ years, I had to face The Shadow that I was a fraud and a failure. The truth was, through sharing my evolution and new reality, that I was honoring my body, which I had been trying to control through food. In the social media firestorm that came next, I discovered a much bigger audience of people who wanted help in creating a healthy relationship with food and their bodies. I felt honest and self-expressed. And my business grew.
- My client K applied for and won a coveted promotion that moved her family to Europe.
- Other clients have worked with their shadow to realize that they were still trying to appease their parents through their current career track or outer expression, and decided to stop hiding their message and passion. They went on to build platforms, write books, organize collectives, and speak out more often.
When we stop caring what people think of us, or how they’ll judge us, and begin to self-express more clearly and creatively, people are drawn to us. We become a magnet for clients and important relationships.
You are just one of the few who has bravely stepped up to integrate The Shadow.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” (Carl Jung)
Once we become more aware of The Shadow in ourselves, we must honor it and find a way to integrate it into our life. It’s the Uncommon Path of Creative Leaders who Thrive. If we fail to do it, or continue to hide it (and hide from it), we become weak and scattered because we’re trying to serve our authentic self and hide our shadow, which dissipates our powers and energy. The shadow must become a part of one’s conscious personality.
Tap into your Inner Authority, by reconnecting to your Universal Spirit of Creative Self-Expression.
Embrace your hidden self, knowing every single human being, even the greats you admire, has their own shadow they’re wrestling with.
Embrace it, and speak with it, knowing you are the only Inner Authority who matters.