I’ve talked about the shadow in relationship to illness before I’d like to make another point about the shadow. We often react strongly to others who demonstrate our own shadow aspects.
If you have a chronic illness and someone makes a comment that you don’t like, how are you doing that very thing? Perhaps you don’t have the ability to go out and do that to someone else, but are you doing that very thing to yourself? I had a woman give the famous, you have shingles? I have shingles all the time and the doctor never tells ME to stay home. How many of those who are chronically ill hear some variation of that? If it upsets you regularly, are you telling yourself that you need to be up and doing more? Maybe it isn’t the person you are upset with who is causing the problem. Maybe it is what you are telling yourself.
For all those who are sick, sit back and consider those comments that make you feel the least understood, the most shamed for being sick. Then consider what you are telling yourself. Are you self messages about your illness really akin to those messages from outside? Rather than trying to live with other people who frustrate you, start being a little nicer to yourself. Accept that you have those judgements. Consider your process towards better health or a better quality of life. Remember that your path is your path alone and no one else’s. Others can support you, encourage you and perhaps walk a short way along with you, but no one else will walk the entire path.
Remember to, that the process of being nicer towards yourself may take time. Just start noticing when you put yourself down or act like you are less than for your illness. Or just notice when feelings of shame for not doing more come up. Let them be. Just noticing them can be very empowering. When you feel ready, start confronting those feelings and see what comes up. You may need to do this with another person or even a qualified therapist (particularly if very troubling emotions come up). Remember, asking for help isn’t a bad thing. We all need it now and then.