~ August 2007~

Who Has Your Light?

The bright shadow represents our disowned talents and strengths, the vast richness we sense within us as possibilities for wisdom, spiritual freedom and creative expression. Unfortunately, these exceptional potentials often go unrecognized, sometimes for a lifetime. Abraham Maslow, a pioneer in the field of Transpersonal Psychology, said that "we fear our highest possibilities." A psychiatrist I know told me that his patients are more afraid of their light than their darkness.

What blocks our light? What keeps us from claiming our gifts? For one thing, many of us repeatedly received both explicit and implicit messages from parents, teachers and clergy to turn down the volume (if not turn it off completely) on our excitement and passion. In order to gain love and avoid disapproval, we learned to be good, to stifle our uniqueness in order to fit in, to be proper and appropriate. We were told that we were ‘too big for our britches,’ too intense, or, perhaps, too sensitive. The artist, actor and mystic parts of us weren’t socially acceptable. Since we needed love as much as we needed food and shelter, we slowly, but surely, disconnected from our ‘unacceptable’ attributes.

Another reason that we don’t claim our full capacities is because we’re afraid of the unknown. Risk is involved if we move outside of our comfort zones. We may fail; we may be shamed if we do fail. We might succeed. Then we’d have to see ourselves differently, expand beyond our limited sense of who we are. We may feel cramped in this small box we call a self, but at least it’s familiar. Jake, a client of mine, said, "I feel like I’m losing something – the old me. I don’t know how to be with this new self." It sounds good to consider owning our deepest potentials, but it can be threatening to the parts of us that fear moving into uncharted territories.

One of the ways that we disown our positive qualities is through the defense mechanism of projection, whereby we project these attributes onto others. As Piero Ferrucci, author of What We May Be, writes, "Instead of owning their transpersonal qualities, some people attribute these qualities to another person – a guru, or therapist, a public figure, or a friend." It is, of course, natural and wonderful to admire Nelson Mandela's courage and conviction, J.K. Rowling’s vivid imagination or Maya Angelou’s depth and powerful poetic voice. It is another matter, though, to put people we respect on a pedestal, out of our reach, and only see their beauty, not our own. When we project we don’t experience these qualities as part of who we are and, further, we feel diminished in the presence of these heroes and ‘she-roes.’ Admiration can quickly become envy, idealization or, even, idolatry. We unconsciously give our light to others.

An important inquiry in the quest for wholeness is to ask ourselves what we can do to claim our light. This exploration involves establishing goals and action steps to develop these qualities as well as discovering what is keeping us from our highest possibilities. What blocks our light? Who has your light? Exploring positive projections is a step toward claiming the bright shadow.


Choose one person who you have on a pedestal.

What qualities do you most admire in this person?

Choose one of these qualities and write about it for 15 minutes. Write about what this quality means to you, what is wonderful about it and what your relationship has been to this quality at different times in your life. Ask yourself if you can see this as a ‘seed potential’ in yourself and if it’s important to bring it forth in your life. If you decide that it is important, write for 5 minutes about the steps you can take to begin to develop this part of yourself. Then choose a step and begin. Remember, what you feed grows!

If you would like to learn more about my coaching services and programs for writing, creativity and psychospiritual development, you can call (415)721-0766 or send me an e-mail at susannewest888@yahoo.com. If you'd like to contact me for a free consultation, just click on the link below.

There is a new link on my website – Transformational Writing. In addition to my Opening the Writer's Gate work for writers and aspiring writers, Transformational Writing focuses on personal writing for spiritual growth and transformation. A one day workshop is being offered on Sunday, September 16 in Oakland, California.

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