What a challenge it is to stay out of the past and the future, to be here now. It seems there are infinite ways to feel guilt or distress about things that did or did not happen in the past. Equally boundless are worries about the future. In my case, I tend to focus on an upcoming adventure, and forget to pay attention to today.
A significant aspect of living in the present is being able to live with oneself, ALL of oneself, the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are fine words from Richard Rohr regarding the shadow self:
Our shadow is what we refuse to see about ourselves, and what we do not want others to see. The more we have cultivated and protected a chosen persona, the more shadow work we will need to do. Therefore, we need to be especially careful of clinging to any idealized role or self-image, such as minister, parent, doctor, nice person, mentor, moral believer, or president of this or that. These are huge personas to live up to; they trap many people in lifelong delusion that this role is who they are or who they are only allowed to be.
The more we are attached to and unaware of such a protected self-image, the more shadow self we will likely have. This is especially dangerous for a “spiritual leader” or “professional religious person” because it involves such an ego-inflating self-image. Whenever ministers, or any true believers, are too anti-anything, we can be pretty sure there’s some shadow material lurking somewhere nearby. Zealotry is a good revelation of one’s overly repressed shadow.
I have found over my lifetime that the more I deal with my shadow, the more accepting I am of others. We are all simply doing our best to make it in this world given the hand we have been dealt.
Let us practice kindness,