Voice Dialogue and Shadow Work

The human shadow carries with it the potential for global annihilation and the potential to regenerate and evolve our species. At the crossroads, which road shall we choose?

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
~ Robert Frost

Down the path less traveled you meet the mysterious, unfamiliar, and at times horrifying parts of yourself. Long ago, for good reasons, you rejected and exiled specific behaviors, emotions, beliefs, memories, and capabilities. For example: If you were raised in a home where being the Good Child, the Pleaser was rewarded, and being more Selfish or Outspoken was punished, you may have determined that being the Pleaser was the wiser path. The Pleaser then became one of your many Primary Selves.

Primary Selves (i.e. Pleaser, Pusher/Achiever, Responsible, Perfectionist, Rational, Critic) were very creative adaptations to your environment. Because of them you survived, grew the skills for success, and received as much care and respect as possible.

Considered dangerous, even deadly, the Selfish, Outspoken, Expressive Selves (called Disowned Selves) were blocked, stuffed, and imprisoned in a dark cavern inside you. That cavern is your shadow. The shadow is not an abstract, academic concept. It is real. It is in you as it is in every individual. It is in family systems, groups, and nations.

It makes great sense to identify with the Primary Self system while you are developing, surviving childhood, and successfully stepping into adult life. Over time, however, your perceptions about who you are and subsequent decisions about how you should live every aspect of your life become extremely limiting. You are blind to entire spectrums of possibilities and options that exist within you; and are a part of you!

Shadow Work is the courageous path inward to respectfully discover that which is unknown or ignored; to carefully enter into relationship with your Disowned Selves; and to discern which of their essential gifts to bring into life. Thomas Moore says, “Shadow, pure and simple, is one of the greatest gifts of soul.” Shadow work can evoke a rebirth of vitality, wholeness, high energy levels, and the ability to resolve heretofore impossible conflicts. You discover lost talents, allow for buried emotions, and live from the totality of your being.

There are many methods used to guide Shadow Work. I have found Voice Dialogue to be profoundly effective at accessing the darker, mysterious realms within. Voice Dialogue offers a safe, structured path to direct communications with both your Primary and Disowned Selves. Voice Dialogue is based on some vital and effective rules: 1) Every Inner Self is to respected and honored for exactly who and what it is. 2) We never ask or expect a Self to change its essential nature. 3.) No Inner Self is expelled from the inner family of sub-personalities. Because of these rules the inner world begins to relax and become more available to you.

Voice Dialogue facilitation welcomes your highly developed Primary Selves, and the less known, repressed Disowned Selves to speak their truth. You learn to appreciate both sides of the many pairs of opposites that live within you (i.e. Pleaser – Selfish/Self-Caring, Rational Mind – Emotional/Intuitive, Perfectionist – “Good enough is good enough”, Pusher/Achiever – Laid Back/Being, etc.).

Consider that your inner world of selves is like an orchestra of different instruments; with only a few instruments playing. What is needed is a Conductor. Voice Dialogue develops your Inner Conductor with the capacity to bring out the best of all the instruments, thus fulfilling the potential of the whole.

To change the world, we must begin by changing ourselves. As you and other individuals do this work, it is more likely that families, groups, and then nations will look to their own natures – known and heretofore unknown. As this awakening, inclusive consciousness begins to operate at a more global level; wars cease, co-operation, collaboration, and conscious action emerge that appreciate our differences while supporting the well-being of the whole.

When you take the “road less traveled” you enter a life-long, life-altering course that leads to self-awareness, the ability to hold the tension of the opposites within you and in life, and a not inconsiderable sense of wonder at the ever unfolding mystery of who you are.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Will

    March 23rd, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I enjoy your artistic writing style… and I admire your passion for expanding consciousness in youself as a method of expanding collective empathy..nice

  • chloe D

    March 23rd, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    I was thinking about my own self and the implications of the kind of upbringing and realized that due to the kind of upbringing I have had I am pretty uptight as it was not quite permissible to be very open and carefree in my childhood…I have heard that i was not too cool with new people from my friends but I have just realized they are right,and now I shall try to fix that aspect by utilizing the methodoly described in your article above…thanks a lot.

  • erica

    March 24th, 2010 at 4:45 AM

    what interesting work this is- curious about how finding your disowned selves could change how you think about yourself and how others see you too

  • Francesca Starr

    April 15th, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Thanks for your comments. Indeed, I am passionate about how Voice Dialogue not only resolves many presenting issues; it creates a capacity to make conscious choices in life in ways that include all of who we are. We do this with greater self-knowledge and a larger wisdom. As we literally meet totally opposite Inner Selves, learn about them, respect them, and use their skills and energies of both in much more appropriate ways, we stop projecting the previously unknown parts onto others.

    When we, as individuals, practice finding and relating to the Disowned Selves that are reflected by others in our lives, we become more whole and stop creating enemies. This is how the global situation of right/wrong, black/white, inclusive/fundamentalist, etc. can transform into: both are sometimes right and sometimes wrong, we all need to become more inclusive while appreciating the part in all of us that can commit to something and passionately pursue that interest.This moves us beyond duality to a larger framework wherein we hold the tension of opposites with the understanding that both exist and both should exist, and both need to be more consciously conducted or managed in the best interest of the whole. Francesca Starr

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