Have you ever heard of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Robert Stevenson’s novel is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates the strange occurrences of his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll. Jekyll is a kind, and respected English doctor who has repressed evil urges inside of him. In an attempt to hide these urges, he develops a potion he believes will subdue his darker side, Edward Hyde.
Like the main character in the story, we all possess both a light and a dark side. The light side we willingly accept and proudly express, but the dark side we desperately try to hide from both ourselves and others. This darker side is what is traditionally known as the Shadow.
The Shadow is a psychological term used to refer to any aspect of ourselves that has been repressed, suppressed, denied, or disowned. This includes negative human emotions such as anger, envy, pride, primitive impulses, drives and desires, emotional wounds, self-defeating behaviors, attitudes, or addictive patterns.
We can’t dissolve the Shadow, for it is an integral part of our dual human nature. It remains within us as our dark brother or sister. Ignore the Shadow, and you’ll be at your own peril. But learn to befriend it and work with it, and you’ll become a Heart Warrior.
What is a Heart Warrior?
The phrase Heart Warrior was coined by Dr. Carl G. Jung when referring to anyone who courageously chooses to explore their Shadows. When not recognized and embraced, our shadows remain invisible to ourselves and will run our lives.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”Carl G. Jung
Therefore, a Heart Warrior is someone who chooses to bring the light to all those aspects of themselves that have remained hidden and unexpressed by doing what is traditionally known as Shadow Work.
The Benefits of Shadow Work
Investing time and effort in doing the necessary emotional, psychological and spiritual work to embrace your darker side will yield the following benefits:
- Improved relationship with others
- Increased self-awareness and self-acceptance
- More energy and improved health
- Emotional maturity and Psychological strength
- Access to greater creativity
- Feeling more compassionate towards yourself and others
The reason for all these benefits is simple: by embracing all unexpressed aspects of yourself, you are becoming more whole. And wholeness is what Shadow Work is all about.
What Makes You a Heart Warrior
No warrior would ever go to battle without weapons or fighting skills because their survival depends on it. If you want to become a Heart Warrior, you need to develop the skills for the battle that lies ahead. A battle you’ll fight within yourself, between your darkness and light.
In my opinion, your success as a Heart Warrior will depend on your ability to develop the following five fundamental skills:
Skill #1: Being psychologically and emotionally self-aware
A Heart Warrior must learn to be fully present to themselves and others. This requires that you develop the self-awareness muscles that will ultimately allow you to recognize when one of your shadows has been triggered. In a world where most people are not fully present to themselves, more than a skill, this is a superpower!
Skill #2: Knowing how to let go of negative emotions, mental patterns, and unconscious behaviors
As the shadows begin to move from the unconscious to the conscious, a Heart Warrior must be willing to fully let go of any old emotions, beliefs, or patterns that begin to surface. This requires knowing how to enter into a state of surrender. This is one of the most powerful Emotional Self-Mastery skills you can develop!
Skill #3: Being compassionate towards yourself and others
Embracing and befriending your Shadow requires that you learn to see yourself through the eyes of compassion. As a heart virtue, compassion is the capacity to fully embrace your or someone else’s humanity and perceive the inherent innocence behind all persons and things. Befriending your Shadows requires you to build a strong self-compassion muscle!
Skill #4: Have an effective system of Shadow Reintegration
As a Heart Warrior, you must have a proven and practical, step-by-step technique for Shadow Reintegration. As I mentioned earlier, Shadow Work is a psychological and healing work that will lead to more excellent mental and emotional health. The Shadow Reintegration process I most frequently use is Ken Wilber’s 3-2-1 Shadow Process.
Skill #5: Communicating with clarity, courage, and compassion
If you want to become a Heart Warrior, you must learn to communicate with greater clarity, compassion, and courage. This skill will not only help you build a deeper, more loving relationship with yourself and those disowned aspects of your personality, but it will also improve your relationship with others. As a result, you’ll begin to see your shadows – especially the ones you’ve projected onto others – as your teachers!
An Invitation to become a Heart Warrior
If you’re someone interested in the topic of Shadow Work, Emotional Self-Mastery, and Compassionate Communication, I’d like to invite you to join me on a three-month transformational group coaching program designed to help you develop these five fundamental skills.
In the safe container we’ll be creating together, you’ll have the opportunity to explore your shadows and learn powerful tools to help you embrace them and transcend them. As a result, you’ll become a more powerful, joyful, and loving version of yourself!
From my heart to yours,