IS IT SHADOW WORK / MIRRORING, OR SIMPLY SPIRITUAL LESSONS IN PLAY?
In the early 1900s Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud, brought to the world the concept of shadow work. Many famous spiritual types are teaching these days about the importance of doing your shadow work, meaning that of seeing problems with other people as a mirror or something we need to work on ourselves. This is good, but it has become so prevalent in many people’s minds that the spiritual lessons we planned before we were born are taking a backseat – even becoming something people are not in the habit of noticing.
This is disturbing to me as a long-time spiritual teacher [30 plus years] and someone who has been aware of mirroring and shadow work even longer. Both are important. Shadow work clears out the subconscious/unconscious of the parts of ourselves we have shoved into that darkness. We do this to avoid knowing certain “bad” or “shameful” things about ourselves. This moving things to the subconscious happens in childhood. But our spiritual lessons, those which are not also mirroring events, are more pervasive, complicated, and show up more often. We plan them before we are born to learn and grow as souls. They are therefore, as you might imagine, terribly important.
Often we must work at being aware spiritual lessons are even in play. And if we are aware at that level, seeing everything that happens as a possible spiritual lesson, it can even then be difficult to discern what that spiritual lesson is.
Let’s say for example that several persons show up in your life at approximately the same time who are arrogant, demanding and entitled. The mirroring point of view would be unequivocally be that you absolutely have those qualities in yourself, and you need to work on those issues so those unpleasant people stop coming along. But what if you do not have those issues because you have either successfully worked on them in the past, or you never had them to begin with – having confirmed that fact with others who are close to you and have known you well 20 or more years that you do not have those issues? What is left is that this is a spiritual lesson.
So what might be the lesson in these persons showing up? Perhaps it is a lesson in compassion for people even though they are unpleasant people with whom to deal. Or maybe it is to learn not to have your buttons pushed when being treated with a lack of respect – or dealing with the need for respect. Another lesson might be to learn on a deeper level to set boundaries with other people – to not allow their demands to change how you work with them, as in giving them more time or more of anything than you normally would simply because they are demanding. Or could it be something else – something you are unable to think of without help? This is why spiritual lessons are so difficult to learn, and why it takes so many lifetimes to learn some of them. But they are critically important and hopefully they will not be pushed aside.
Lois J. Wetzel, MFA