When positive thinking is simply papering over the cracks…

Shadow Side

By Diane Nicholson (originally posted on Di’s Blog December 2013)

A few years ago I discovered that I am an Enneagram type Two. The Enneagram is an ancient wisdom which teaches about the 9 ways of ‘being’ and perceiving life. It was created mainly for the egoic traits that arise through each type. Each of the 9 types are different, but have pretty much default and predictable behavioural patterns, and between them they make up humanity. When you understand this, you tend to understand why so many people feel so easily offended or can be judgemental in today’s society… it’s because we are all so different whilst telling each other ‘Be like me, be like me!’ rather than ‘Be like you, be like you!’

These days, the Enneagram has become so sugar-coated to make it socially acceptable so that it doesn’t offend the fragile egos of those who would have to face the truth about how they show up at times, the patterns they play on themselves and others, and how they hold themselves back. With this sugar-coating, the wisdom and potential the Enneagram contains becomes hugely diluted. You see, you cannot hold back from seeing the complete truth about how your ego shows up, then also expect to recognise and break through the patterns of that same ego. Because you cannot break through what you cannot see.

One of the things I discovered about being a Two… is that Twos have a sense of false abundance. We tend to focus on abundance in order to remain happy and prideful, and we also tend to overlook potential potholes. There is a very good reason for this, as with each of the behavioural traits of all 9 types which it has now become my life’s work to research and teach, but which I can’t explain here without writing an entire book…

However, for someone who teaches about positive thinking, you might be able to imagine how it felt when I first discovered that my abundantly positive attitude to life was ego based, and existed first and foremost to actually serve my ego. It came as quite a shock. However, with everything I’d learned about the 9 ways of being, it all made perfect sense… My journey of growth was to discover a place way beyond that… into the ‘me’ that is not my ego. Recognising my ego for the first time allowed me to see the box that I had so inadvertently placed myself into, which allowed the following process to unfold.

With this knowledge came the understanding that for years I had been denying myself the opportunity to feel lower calibrating emotions, such as fear, shame, guilt, apathy etc. They were something I always strived to work away from, rarely allowing myself to feel for any length of time, because they didn’t serve my ego. This all went on subconsciously, whilst I carried on blissfully blind to my way of being. And so I kept focusing on abundance and retained a positive attitude to life, as Twos tends to do.

Earlier this year, I took the deepest journey yet into my shadow side. I had been there before, but compared to this experience, the other times were more intellectually based. I spent 7 days there, surrendering totally to the process of facing my ego head on. I felt intense shame and humiliation, probably for the very first time at this level. I reviewed my entire life like a movie, from my first childhood memory through to adulthood, and because I am now able to clearly recognise the traits of the Two, I could see my ego showing up everywhere… ouch, ouch and ouch! The shame and pain I felt was intense and painful. But rather than lifting myself out of the shame I felt in that moment with my positive thinking toolkit, as I would have done in the past, I allowed my shame to encompass me completely. I resisted nothing…

I felt like I was drowning. During this process, my physical body became dense and sore as my energy came to a standstill. Then something incredible happened, I became aware of my soul’s presence. It was observing me lying in my shame with the most incredible love, cradling me protectively as a mother cradles her child.

Then I began to feel two opposing emotions from either end of the scale – shame from my body and all-encompassing love from my soul, and I felt them both at the same time. There are no words to describe it. I felt these two emotions for several days.

No longer resistingAt first I was observing my soul as ‘over there’ whilst it cradled my aching body. And then suddenly I was observing my aching body as ‘over there’ as I stepped into my soul’s presence and became the observer of my body, mind and emotions. In that moment, everything changed. Absolutely everything. The two were separated. My consciousness became present in my soul.

I became aware that the real me is that more powerful presence. My soul. The shame was simply what my body was feeling. In reality, my shame was an illusion, it could not truly harm me. Nothing could. Even my body felt like an illusion.

Several days later when I came out of this intense experience, I felt like I had broken free from a shell. I felt like I had wings. I felt the most liberating and beautiful sense of freedom. I had a clarity on life that was so simple, so huge. The reality of life’s illusion had lifted, and I knew who I was.

I also knew who I was not.

From that day onwards, my being felt different. The only way to explain it is that I gave up all resistance. Funny thing is, that I didn’t even know I’d been resisting, but I’d had nothing to compare it to until then. I found myself wanting only healthy foods, good things, happiness, love, all naturally. My body felt completely at ease. I no longer desired any pain in my life. What was shocking was that I wasn’t even aware that somehow beneath the surface I had been creating my own pain and drama. Yes, even with my falsely abundant attitude. This is why we tend to feel hurt, pain, anger, fear in our lives… we become almost addicted to it. It happens to each and every one of us, as our ego works away under the surface without our awareness…

And so for the first time, I am allowing myself to feel every emotion there is. I am no longer resisting them, no longer icing over them, I no longer have any need to be permanently abundant or positive… I am honouring my entire Self.

And because I am no longer in resistance to these emotions, they simply don’t seem to have any need to surface. I’m enjoying a wonderful clarity and peacefulness about sharing my entire truth. Because now I know what my truth is.

A peacefulness has taken place which is powerful, all encompassing and coming from the core of my being. It feels so beautiful, I don’t know how to express it in words. I am experiencing a whole new kind of love. I have loved how Andy has shared in this whole journey with me. It has been very special. He has been amazing throughout. I am so blessed to be his wife.

The one thing I do know, is that life will bring me many more opportunities to experience fear, guilt, shame, anger, grief… of course it will… and I am no longer going to ice over them. I am no longer subconsciously avoiding them, nor do I even feel they are negative emotions. They just are… that’s all. Part of being human. We can all forgive ourselves for that. Allowing myself to surrender to them provided me with one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

Something else came into my awareness at that time too…. it’s that there are many who want to tell others how to be, what they should be feeling, rather than just allowing them to ‘be’ with their emotions. One of the things I have lost this year is any desire to do that. I don’t want to offer advice to anyone else on how to be, unless they specifically request it from me. After all, I don’t want to be told what to feel, or how to feel it, or that I should ice over lower calibrating emotions any longer. If I’m not in any way fearful of these emotions, then others shouldn’t be trying to convince me that I need to be…

I realised too that I only wish to learn from people who have a willingness to listen. No one else can teach me if they are only trying to teach me to be like them. I am not them. I am me. Each of the 9 Enneatypes need something entirely different when it comes to their journey. This is why I am so passionate about teaching this – to open awareness to other ways of being and perceiving. If someone can hear who I am first, and offer me wisdom based on that… wonderful. There is nothing I love more. If however, someone’s desire to speak is stronger than their desire to hear, well… there is a ancient Indian proverb “Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf”.

“Be yourself… everyone else is taken” ~ Oscar Wilde

Note from Andy:

Positive thinking can be misused as a form of denial or what has been termed ‘spiritual avoidance’. This is when it is papering over the cracks in your life. Maintaining such a falsely positive outlook is inauthentic and quickly becomes tiring and stressful. If you are in denial of pain and uncomfortable feelings, then you are not allowing your intuition to speak to you and to encourage you to take positive action in your life. If you don’t act on pain then it becomes an unhealthy habit – even part of your identity. Not acting on pain can be just as unhelpful and unhealthy for you as avoiding it all together. It is much better to acknowledge and deal with it.[/
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