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Episode 137 Transcript: Releasing Your Resistance through Shadow Work

Nancy: Our shadows often hold the keys to understanding our resistance. When we avoid or suppress our fears, insecurities, they often present as resistance. It’s like having an invisible barrier that stops us from moving forward. So in order to release resistance, it is essential to get to the root. And by engaging in shadow work, we allow ourselves to discover the aspects and qualities in ourselves that we’ve disowned, as well as the deep-seated beliefs from childhood that hold us back. This is a game changer.

Nancy: Welcome to the Nancy Levin Show. I’m Nancy Levin, Founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, best-selling author, master coach, and your host. I help overachieving people pleasers set boundaries that stick and own self-worth, anchored in empowered action, so you can feel free. Plus, if you’re an aspiring or current coach, you are in the right place. Join me each week for coaching and compelling conversations designed to support you in the spotlight, as you take center stage of your own life. Let’s dive in. 

Nancy: Welcome back to another episode of the Nancy Levin Show. I am so happy you’re here with me today. And it being fresh in the new year, I’ve been talking about non-negotiables over resolutions, and when I’m talking about non-negotiables, I’m really inviting you to explore for yourself the elements of self connection that have you feel most alive.

So what are the things that are most important for you to do in your life so that you flourish? And how do you hold those in place? Essentially, this is a boundary that you set and hold with yourself. It’s a promise you make to yourself. And as we are here, if you’re listening in real time, mid-January, it’s likely that some of the things you intended to do have not happened. And so I’d like today to look at resistance when it comes to your own non-negotiables. And we’re going to look at resistance through the lens of the powerful process of shadow work. How shadow work can support you to release resistance. 

Resistance is a tricky companion. It often shows up disguised as procrastination or self-doubt or rationalization or justification or excuses. It’s that inner voice that’s whispering, I’ll do that tomorrow or I’m not ready yet. But here’s the thing, resistance is also a sign and it’s a sign that we’re on the cusp of something really important. 

I can remember several times in my own life when my resistance was in full force. I knew I needed to leave my marriage, but kept finding excuses to stay. Like how am I going to separate all of our books or our bank account? Or when I was leaving my job at Hay House to go out on my own, inside I heard go for it. But at the same time, an equally loud part of me was shouting, this is absurd. Stay where it’s safe. These are the moments that we know we are facing resistance head on. 

Resistance is simply the fear of the unknown, the comfort in the familiar, and it’s often a defense mechanism protecting us from perceived threats. We create various ways to keep our resistance alive with rationalizations and justifications and excuses. So ultimately, resistance is a barrier to our own growth and our own healing. 

So how do we meet and move past this resistance? This is where shadow work comes in. Shadow work is a concept rooted in Jungian psychology and it is the subject of my upcoming book. Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light

Simply put, our shadow is made up of all the parts of ourselves that we hide, deny, suppress, and don’t see in ourselves what we deem quote unquote positive or quote unquote negative. Our shadow is all of the aspects that we reject out of shame, fear, or disapproval. Shadow work is about turning our attention inward to explore and acknowledge the parts of ourselves that we’ve been turning away from. And these are all the parts that we’ve either been denying because we don’t want to be them, and in fact are emphatically convinced we’re not. This is also about the parts we deny that we don’t think we are because we are not thinking of ourselves as having certain qualities that present as light.

So this transformative approach is a game changer. Our shadows often hold the keys to understanding our resistance. In fact, when we avoid or suppress our fears, insecurities, they often present as resistance. It’s like having an invisible barrier that stops us from moving forward. So in order to release resistance, it is essential to get to the root. And by engaging in shadow work, we allow ourselves to discover the aspects and qualities in ourselves that we’ve disowned like lazy or mean or confident and courageous. As well as the deep seated beliefs from childhood that hold us back. Beliefs like, I’m not good enough, I’m not enough, I’m unlovable, I’m unworthy. And by acknowledging and working through these shadow aspects and beliefs, we can start to dissolve the resistance that they create in us.

Now, this is not an overnight process, it’s a practice, and it’s incredibly powerful. It involves introspection and self-connection. It’s about asking ourselves the tough questions and being ready and available to listen to the answers that come from within, no matter how uncomfortable. 

And it’s important for me to point out that engaging in shadow work does not mean that you’re broken or need fixing. It’s quite the opposite. This is the journey toward wholeness where we embrace all parts of ourselves, the light and the dark, and by doing so, we can release the grip of resistance. 

Facing and embracing our shadows, though challenging at times, is the path to true self-awareness, change and liberation. So let’s make this concrete here. I’m going to ask you a few questions that will begin leading you to your shadows.

One of the easiest ways to discover qualities that we’ve disowned is looking at the qualities in others that we dislike. So we can start looking at the people around us or people in the public eye and recognize qualities they have that we don’t identify with, that in fact, we are convinced we are not. And we begin looking at these qualities from the perspective of negativity or dark.

Now I will say all qualities are charge neutral. We put the spin on them. So we are so accustomed to working with qualities that we decide are bad, like lazy or needy or mean or irresponsible. So we can start from there looking at those qualities, the qualities we would most not want describing us in the New York Times headline. These qualities present as qualities that we need to reclaim. We’ve denied them, we’ve suppressed them, we’ve disowned them, and it’s time to reclaim them and harness their power. 

The same happens when we look at people close to us or in the public eye who we admire, who we feel inspired by, and we think, oh, I could never be that like they are, that being courageous, confident, generous, whatever it is. And again, because we are whole, we are not broken, we are whole. Parts of ourselves are just a little dusty. We wanna look at those qualities that we would most love to describe us in the headline of the New York Times. 

And the shadow work here is looking at both of these sets of qualities and identifying how we can cultivate these qualities inside of us so that we can call upon their energies to support us instead of denying their existence.

For example, we spend a lot of energy overcompensating for what we don’t wanna be. So if I don’t wanna be mean, I will go overboard being nice. If I don’t wanna be lazy, I will go overboard overcompensating by being an overachiever. If I don’t wanna be a certain quality that I’m convinced I’m not, I will expend a lot of energy hiding and covering up the existence of that quality inside of me so that no one can see it. And when it comes to the light qualities, I will hide my confidence or hide my courage for fear of someone pointing a finger at me saying, who does she think she is? 

So notice how this presents in you. How do you suppress or repress these qualities? Once we identify our shadow qualities, it’s time to integrate them. And so instead of eliminating our shadows, we are acknowledging and accepting them as part of our whole self. And this acceptance is what ultimately allows us to move past resistance into wholeness. Your power does not exist inside of your stubborn resistance, but instead inside your determined wholeness. And in order to be whole, we have to actually wanna expand the perception of who we are. And you can only do this when you surrender a persona or a role that has kept you trapped inside of a box. And here’s the deal. A box, even a safe, comfortable box with windows and a nice view is still a box. 

So I tend to look at a three-part process here that involves three different states of awareness, resistance, surrender, and acceptance. Resistance usually comes from a fear that’s connected to the part of your self-created identity that’s feeling like it’s being threatened. And the first stage of shadow work, awareness, can help you get in touch with your resistance and its roots, but you also have to honor that instinct to resist because you very likely have a good reason for it. 

For example, you might be afraid that you’ll find something scary when you dig deep. You don’t wanna run the risk of finding an inner perpetrator, especially if you’ve felt hurt by others. So be gentle with yourself here. Surrender is releasing the idea that any of the shadow qualities are inherently good or bad. Sure, the actions someone might take when they connect with the part of themselves that’s aggressive, for example, might end up being abusive, but that’s also a choice that’s made. The quality itself is neutral. And we are the ones who put the negative or positive charge on it. 

Surrender invites you to exercise curiosity about the quality, which will then lead to clarity. If surrender is about looking at the quality, not through rose colored glasses or dark shades, but a clear view, acceptance is about understanding and coming to terms with your shadow qualities so that you no longer have to overcompensate to hide them.

So lazy for example, doesn’t mean you’re lazy all the time. It simply means you have the capacity to be lazy, and sometimes your behavior can be lazy, and sometimes your behavior is overactive. When you let go of the charge on the quality, you start to see that there’s not a negative or positive. It’s not the demon or the angel because you can start to see how lazy can support you, in fact. Llazy can support you by resting, rejuvenating, laughing, crying, and when we’re not expending energy, hiding our laziness, we can tap into the benefits. 

So with acceptance comes the possibility of compassion. This whole process of moving from resistance to surrender to acceptance opens the door for new possibilities. You can start to think at first it was really dark down here, but now that my eyes have adjusted, I’m starting to see it all in a new way. 

You’ve probably noticed that your judgments of others and the world at large are connected to what you judge within yourself. When you’re in a state of intense judgment, the fear of reclaiming equality gets intensified. Because you may look at someone with that quality and be afraid of feeling toward yourself what you feel toward them.

This is when defensive statements like I could never be like them or I’m nothing like them, starts to rear their ugly heads. But such defenses are self-defeating. It’s like putting on armor to fight an invisible enemy, one who actually lives inside of you and needs your compassion and respect. 

Surrendering your judgments takes away the charge of fear or hatred. It helps you step into the space of your soul where you get to reclaim what’s yours and express it in your life consciously in the ways that serve you best. One of the most important aspects of surrender is feeling safe enough to go to the places you fear. 

This often looks like giving yourself space and time to feel your feelings, knowing it’s only natural that fear will come up. And even though your resistance may cause you to go into fight or flight, you are safe. However, to truly nourish yourself, it’s essential to go beyond that threshold of need or want.

This is desire, the place where your souls need for purpose and meaning and fulfillment feels the strongest and most alive. When you live inside of desire, not from lack or desperation, but from recognition that the presence of desire is its own fulfillment, you stop depriving yourself. You realize that desire keeps you attuned to your soul’s, authentic yearnings, and you discover just how many of those yearnings have been tossed into the cave of your shadow.

This kind of yearning is a shadow desire – a strong desire you’ve been resisting for a long time. We tend to resist it because it’s the purest kind of wanting. We tend to resist it because it’s the kind of wanting that may have nothing to do with being good or lovable or acceptable, or any of the things we’re conditioned to seek in order to feel safe or like we belong.

In order to know your own wholeness, you must be willing to reclaim not just ordinary desires, but also your shadow desires. So when we look at all of this in terms of your non-negotiables, how can you enlist your shadow qualities to support you in showing up for yourself, in honoring your own commitments, in holding yourself accountable to what it is you say you want. This is not about depriving yourself. This is about giving yourself the greatest gift you can. 

So like I said, we’re mid month, mid-January. If you’re listening to this in real time, and if the past two weeks have shown you that even when you commit to something or you want something or you make a resolution or you set a non-negotiable or boundary with yourself, you still aren’t honoring them, simply ask yourself, what is the cost of not doing what enlivens me most? What is the cost here? And what if instead of feeling deprived around your non-negotiables, you recognize that by not honoring and adhering to your non-negotiables, that’s when you’re actually depriving yourself. 

Resistance is natural and it’s important to honor our resistance, but it’s more important to honor the part of ourself that is yearning for what it is we most desire. And so instead of shutting it down, blowing it off, allow whatever it is you most desire for yourself to be amplified, to have all the airtime it needs. We expend so much energy shutting parts of ourselves down. It’s time to spend that energy bringing ourselves to life.

Nancy: Thanks so much for joining me today. I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com to check out all the goodies I have there for you. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a rating and a review. I’ll meet you back here next week.