Chapter 15: Overcoming Shadows – Part Two

Katie,* just turned ten, sits in the audience, her hands cold with sweat. When her name is called, she hurries toward the piano. Her mind is a blank—her focus solely on getting through her piece as quickly as possible. Opening her music book, she puts her fingers on the keys and they begin to fly. Somehow, they make no mistakes and before she knows it she has finished! She turns, beaming at the audience as they applaud.

A few children later, it is Jonathan’s* turn to play a piece on his violin. He is in Katie’s grade. She has never heard him play but she’s heard from his teacher that he’s very good. The minute his bow touches the strings however, he goes too fast. The violin squawks and screeches. He stops playing half-way through his piece, red-faced and shaking as he returns to his seat. It is obvious he is mortified by how badly he did. Katie feels bad for him. He must know the piece inside out, so what happened?

It’s possible that his shadow had something to do with it.

 In the first part of this article, we talked about the importance of the shadow in the Hero’s Journey. In myths and fairy-tales, the shadow is often represented by the ugly crone that does not get invited to the party, so she places a curse on the parties’ hosts, like in Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast.

It’s the same with our personal shadows—those parts of ourselves that we refuse to accept, usually because we are ashamed of them. When we refuse to “invite them in” they “curse” us by interfering with our happiness until we accept them. This is often easier said than done because our shadows can hide from us!

For example, in Meylyne’s case, we know that she feels invisible to her mother and this insecurity causes her big problems when she trespasses in the Above-World to get her mother’s favor. Most likely, she will overcome this fear in time because she is aware of it and she will learn, through her journey, that she is not invisible in any way.

But what if she has other fears that are also getting in the way of her achieving her goals? What is she supposed to do about those fears if she is unaware of them?

It is a tricky conundrum!

So here is the good news—no matter how deeply hidden these secret beliefs might be, she can override them. She doesn’t even need to figure out what they are. All she has to do is take her goal and affirm that she’s achieving it. Then, whatever secret beliefs she has hidden in her unconscious will be overridden by these new beliefs (or affirmations) that she’s putting in her mind.

It’s the same for you and me!

And it was the same for Jonathan, our violin-player. I met up with him years later and he told me that he figured out his problem. It turned out that, deep down, he believed that he did not have the right to take up people’s time with anything he had to communicate—whether it was speaking, playing music or whatever. It wasn’t until he decided that he did have the right to take up people’s time and he affirmed this to himself over a period of time that he developed the ability to play in public—which he does now, and very well!

How about you? Do you have any goals right now that you’re trying to achieve? Maybe you’ve been trying for a while. Or maybe you’ve just been thinking about trying. Whatever they are—try this exercise:

  1. Write down the goal you want to achieve.
  2. Next write down why you want to achieve it—what it is you hope to gain by achieving this goal
  3. Next write down how you’ll feel while you’re achieving this goal


Here’s an example from Ella* one of my daughter’s friends:

  1. I want a lead role in a play
  2. What I will gain; entertaining my peers; sense of responsibility; overcoming shyness; empowerment
  3. How will this feel; exciting, fun.


Next Ella must say to herself, at least 20 times a day, “I am entertaining my friends by acting in a lead role in a play.” She might also want to write it down 20 times a day. As she says/writes these words, she will imagine how she’ll feel—excited and happy.

By doing this, any unconscious beliefs that might be informing her actions and limiting her from achieving her goal will be replaced by these positive affirmations. Time will tell if she achieves her goal!

Why don’t you try it and then tell me about it? I’d love to hear from you!



*Not their real names.

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