For many, the month of February is thought of as the month of love. Whether you’re single, taken, or “it’s complicated”, there’s a good chance you’ve been hit with the mushy-gushy-romance vibes everywhere you turn. I love my husband and he’s my best friend, but I never really was one for the commercialized and forced feelings that come with Valentine’s Day. That said, since love in one way, shape, or form is on most people’s minds this time of year, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of unconditional self-love.
You see, it’s easy to love the parts of us that we like, whether that be physical attributes, personality traits, or personal achievements. But what about the parts of us that we’re not so proud of?
Those darker parts that we don’t love so much? I like to call those the “shadow parts”. These are the traits or aspects of ourselves that we wish would remain hidden. Those that we’d rather not see in ourselves, and that we certainly don’t want to share with others. Maybe we don’t want people to know that we are insecure, messy, lazy, or lack motivation. We fear being seen as incompetent or lacking knowledge in a particular area.
While everyone has insecurities, our true shadow parts may not be as obvious as you might think. These parts have often been long-repressed, suppressed, or those that we’ve tried to rid ourselves from in some way. To find out how this applies to you, you can ask yourself “What do I not want people to see me as?” or “What am I afraid of being”? The answer is likely to reveal your true shadow parts.
But let me let you in on a little secret: just like the light, darkness often serves a purpose. Both light and shadow each play a vital role in our growth. Our shadows often contain important information about ourselves, our past, and in which areas we have an opportunity for healing. The shadow is designed to meet basic needs like love, connection, and safety – yet it also tries to function in a way that avoids failure, pain, and rejection.
For example, when I go to do live videos for presentations or even on my social media, my shyness shadow emerges. Instead of trying to rid myself of it, I welcome it in and allow it to express itself. This specific shadow is trying to protect me from getting rejected by someone online. It wants to save me from the pain of someone not agreeing with what I have to say, or worse yet, making fun of me in some way. There is value in exploring its concerns.
So, my friends, as you share your light, your gifts, and your talents with the world, don’t shun your shadows like I used to do. When we accept our shadow sides, they can coexist with our light instead of holding us back or defining us. The acceptance of my shadows allows me to embrace my shyness while still completing my live talks. This deepens my relationship with myself because I am no longer hating or rejecting parts of myself that are truly just trying to keep me safe, secure, and loved. Instead, I get to use them as tools for growth.
Shadow integration is an amazing emotional mastery tool and is a critical part of any personal growth and emotional health work. If you’re ready to learn more about mastering shadow integration so you can deepen your self-love, would like to learn more about it so that you too can deepen your self-love, please reach out to schedule a connection call to chat about how I can help. It may just be the most loving thing you do for yourself this year!
Happy Valentine’s Day weekend, everyone!
Mind Your Strength,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.