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Episode 156 Transcript: Shadow Work Part 2: Responsibility and Authenticity

Nancy: Think about areas in your life where you have been hiding parts of yourself, what is it that you are afraid to reveal and why?

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 the Nancy Levin Show. I’m thrilled you’re here as we continue the journey through the stages of shadow work. So in last week’s episode, I let you know that my book Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light, a journal filled with prompts and exercises and meditations is on its way out into the world right now. And I shared with you the first two stages of shadow work, and those are awareness and surrender. So if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, I do encourage you listen to that one before this one. 

But for my rebels who are just going to listen to this one, I will let you know that awareness is the first stage of shadow work because we need to acknowledge that we have a shadow and we all have a shadow. We all have a place within us where we end up relegating the parts of ourselves we disown. So when we reject parts of ourselves, we put them into the shadow and very simply put, our shadow is our unconscious. Our shadow is the place within us where the parts of ourselves we don’t wanna be and don’t think we reside, as well as the parts of us that we want to be, but think we’re not reside. And the shadow itself is responsible for creating a fair amount of beliefs and commitments and circumstances that drive our life. And so this is why it’s essential to dive into the shadow and harness the untapped resource and power it has available to us. 

So the second stage of shadow work that we looked at last week was surrender. And when I talk about surrender, I talk about releasing our willful stronghold around needing anyone or anything to be any certain way. And what surrender allows us to do is open up to a new way of being in the world as we are on this journey toward wholeness. So we get to shift the way that we have held ourselves. We get to really begin to see how we have been crafting a persona to put out into the world because we want things to be a certain way and we wanna be seen a certain way. 

So that’s where we were last week. And today we are heading into two more stages of shadow work. We will be looking at responsibility and we will be looking at authenticity. So stages three and four. And these stages are pivotal in your journey toward embracing wholeness, embracing your true self and living life on your own terms. So before we get into responsibility, I wanna remind you that you can get your own copy of Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light by going to nancylevin.com/journal. And when you do, you will also make yourself eligible to receive the free bonus gifts that I am giving you. So everyone who pre-orders, orders, you get a free bonus gift, actually a series of free bonus gifts from me. So again, nancylevin.com/journal. 

So as we dive into responsibility and authenticity, these two stages are specifically around owning our actions and stepping into our true selves. And in the responsibility stage, we learn to separate from old unhelpful patterns that take charge of our life. So responsibility is really about liberating ourselves from our triggers and connecting with the deeper emotions beneath them. And this stage begins with self-forgiveness. So we need to allow ourselves to learn from our shadow and take ownership of our actions. And when we forgive ourselves, we can move forward without the baggage of our past mistakes. 

To understand responsibility, let’s break it down here. Often we react to situations based on our past experiences carrying our old wounds and our traumas. These reactions can ultimately trigger us causing emotional responses that seem out of proportion to the current situation. By taking responsibility, we acknowledge these triggers and we explore their roots. So for instance, you might imagine a time when a comment someone made deeply hurt you. It’s not just that the comment itself stung, but it was really a reminder of past criticisms or rejections. Responsibility means that we can recognize this pattern and we can decide to respond differently. It’s about saying, I understand why this hurt, why what was said to me had this impact, but I can choose to react with compassion and understanding rather than anger.

 So there’s a saying I love, I do not know who to attribute it to. “When are hysterical, it’s historical”  and this is what we’re talking about. Responsibility means that instead of regressing to the past and instead of clinging to all the old patterns that have run inside of us, instead of a habitual way to react, we take responsibility for the present moment and recognize that what’s happening right now is different from what has happened in our past. So self-forgiveness is crucial. We all have moments when our shadow takes over leading us to act out of character. I call this our shadow coming out sideways. And this is why it’s essential to recognize the moments and forgive ourselves for them. By doing so, we ultimately free ourselves from the grip of our past and we open the door to personal growth. So self-forgiveness begins with acknowledging our imperfections. We are human, we make mistakes. And holding onto guilt or shame only serves to keep us stuck in old patterns. So instead, by forgiving ourselves, we allow room for growth and for transformation.

So let’s practice a little self-forgiveness right here. Let yourself think about a time when you acted in a way that wasn’t aligned with your true self. A time that you did something or said something and later thought that was so not me, or I don’t know why I did that. And let yourself explore what the underlying emotions were that caused you to act in that way that caused your shadow to come out sideways. What triggered you? What activated you? What created the impulse in you to act out of character? And then just close your eyes for a moment here, as long as you’re not driving and just gently say to yourself, repeat after me. I forgive you. You were doing the best you could with what you knew at the time. And allow yourself, allow yourself to feel freedom enter your body. Let yourself feel weight lift off of you as you begin to embrace self-forgiveness. 

Taking responsibility strengthens our core selves. It shifts our focus away from blaming others to understanding our reactions. And this shift ultimately empowers us to respond to situations in ways that align with our own true values. It’s about moving from being reactive to being proactive. And so as you consider a recent conflict or trigger in your own life, really begin the inquiry around how did you react? How was the way you reacted rooted in the stories you were telling yourself? How can you now take responsibility for your feelings and actions in that situation? Instead of moving into blame and victimhood, allow yourself to move into responsibility and empowerment.

And then what can you learn from this? By examining our reactions, we gain insight into our own inner world. So for example, if you feel defensive in response or reaction to someone else’s criticism, it’s time to explore why. Maybe it’s tied to a fear of not believing you’re good enough. Maybe it’s rooted in an old experience that you are reliving and maybe you are holding on to external criticism as a way to continue beating yourself up from the inside. Because the truth is, whenever we are in right relationship with ourselves, we don’t have any Velcro for external judgment and criticism to stick to. So even though we have this idea that we don’t want external criticism or judgment, that we fear it, that we wanna avoid it, the truth is if we’re even putting any attention on external judgment and criticism, it is simply an indicator that we have work to do inside of ourselves – to clean up the way in which we are regarding ourselves. So taking responsibility means addressing this fear and deciding to act from a place of self-worth and confidence instead. 

So that’s a bit of an overview on responsibility, and now we’re gonna move into the fourth step of authenticity.

Nancy: Hi, it’s Nancy interrupting my own show. I’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up in 2024, including a brand new book plus a group coaching opportunity, unlike anything else I have ever offered before. To make sure you are in the know, pop on over to my website now and sign up for my free weekly newsletter at nancylevin.com/newsletter so you don’t miss a thing. Okay, back to the show. 

Nancy: This stage is about bringing the treasures out from our shadow into the light of our conscious lives. It is about embracing all parts of ourselves and expressing them with courage and honesty. So authenticity can feel vulnerable, but ultimately it is deeply empowering. It involves trusting ourselves and expressing our true selves without fear of judgment. This stage is about reconciling all parts of who we are, even those we’ve been afraid to show. So authenticity requires us to be honest with ourselves first. 

Everything I do really originates with self love, self-worth self trust, which all comes back to truth telling. So it’s about acknowledging our strengths and our weaknesses, our desires and our fears when we embrace our authentic selves and stop hiding behind masks and start living in alignment with our true nature. So think about areas in your life where you have been hiding parts of yourself, and what is it that you are afraid to reveal and why?

And now imagine what it would feel like to express those parts openly without fear. Embrace the possibility of being your whole authentic self. So as I was saying, self-trust is the foundation of authenticity, truth telling. It’s about giving ourselves permission to be who we are as we express what’s true for us. And this process can be challenging, especially in a world that often rewards in authenticity, but the rewards of living authentically far outweigh the risks. Take a moment here and reflect on a recent situation where you held back your truth, where you withheld your truth. I often say that I do think we all have a belief that if we expressed the truth of who we are, we would not be loved and accepted. However, we also run around saying, I just wanna be loved for the truth of who I am. And here’s the kicker. We can’t be loved for the truth of who we are unless we reveal that truth. So what has you withholding your truth? 

Now let me be clear. We can still be discerning about what we wanna share and with whom, but we wanna make sure that we’re no longer withholding from the place of fear or threat, that instead we are withholding certain elements out of privacy or out of the discernment that we don’t have to over overexpose ourselves in order to be known. 

So when you consider what had you stop yourself from being honest, how can you practice self-trust in your daily life? Because authenticity is a journey. It is not a destination. And self-trust involves tuning into our own inner guidance and acting on it. So it means valuing our own opinions and feelings over the expectations of others. This can be challenging in a society that often pressures us to conform. However, each step we take toward self-trust strengthens our ability to live authentically. Authenticity is also about deepening our connections with others. So when we show up as our true selves, we invite others to do the same. This creates more meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Think about a relationship where you feel you can’t be fully yourself. What holds you back? What keeps you in the relationship? What boundaries of your own must you cross in order to stay in that relationship? How can you start showing up more authentically in that relationship? And remember, it is a process that starts with small honest steps. And when we are authentic, we create space for others to be authentic too. And this leads to a deeper sense of belonging with our connections. So instead of superficial interactions, we engage in meaningful exchanges that nourish our souls. 

So thank you for joining me today for stages three and four of your Shadow Work journey. As I mentioned last week, if you didn’t listen to that episode, I covered the first two stages, awareness and surrender. That was episode 155, and next week I will be exploring the fifth stage of shadow work, which is resilience. My book, Embrace Your Shadow to Find Your Light is available at nancylevin.com/journal. And when you go there, you can get all the bonus gifts that I’ve got available to you. So I look forward to being here with you again next week.

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.