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Embracing our Shadow Selves

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Star Jones returns to the airwaves this week with a new show on Court TV (Star Jones Monday to Friday 3pm). You’ve probably gotten a glimpse of this ‘new Star’—it’s a very different Star than the one we remember from her days on The View. Aside from losing 160 pounds, she’s also shed her trademark ‘bigger than life’ public persona. This time around there’s less glam, less hair, less make up. She seems more real and, dare I say— vulnerable? 


Jones left The View last year on less than favorable terms, shocking Barbara Walters and the other table-mates with the surprise on-air announcement that she would not be returning to the popular daytime show for another season. Following that bombshell, Walters and The View producers decided that Star would not be coming back at all.


As an avid ‘Viewer’ since the show first went on the air (I’ve seen nearly every episode over the past 10 years—gotta catch those hot topics!), Star’s public battle with her ‘shadow self’ is fascinating. And, has prompted me to want to find out more about what it is in each of us that works so hard to hide aspects of our personalities, aspects that, to others, may not be a big deal at all. 


“The shadow is the part of us that we hide,” said Helaine Z. Harris, a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist who uses a blend of traditional and alternative techniques when working with clients. “It doesn’t go along with the image of how we see ourselves. It might be the part that we see as selfish or shallow or callous or controlling or mean. So this is relegated to the back part of us ‘we’re not like that’ we think.” 


Harris says our shadow is made up of energetically-charged patterns in ourselves that we have developed along the way.  For instance, in many families it’s not okay to be sad or cry, or to be angry as a young girl.  “So to be okay, you learn to hide a part of you. And, that’s what winds up being the shadow,” Harris said. “The problem is, it rears its head anyway, and other people see it and know about it, even though we don’t.”


The shadow will reveal itself when we try to hide these feelings in us. And, if we pay attention to these uneasy feelings, we could learn and grow from this experience. It’s not about pushing down the parts of ourselves that we aren’t comfortable with as much as it is about accepting ourselves, and using our shadow qualities for our own benefit. After all, the ‘mean’ part of us can come in handy when we’re in a threatening situation or need to justly defend ourselves.


To become more aware of our Shadow, Harris suggests paying attention to the things that bother you in others. Journaling can help. Start making notes of the things you dislike and like in others—because it’s all of these qualities—the positive and the negative—that are likely qualities in us, too.


Learn more about this important topic by listening to the “Embracing Your Shadow” podcast at lisa.fm.


Three tips for embracing your shadow, from Helaine Z. Harris:


  • Notice what bothers you in other people “what we’re very angry, hurt or upset about in an exaggerated way” could lead us to aspects of ourselves we’re trying to hide.


  • Realize that we may have the traits we don’t like in others in ourselves.


  • Embrace the part of you that you don’t like, and understanding how these qualities have served and protected you.




Be sure to check out Lisa.fm and stay tuned for part two of my series on ‘Embracing our Shadow Selves’ with Helaine Z. Harris.


By Lisa Osborne


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