Shadow Emotions

Like a shadow, I am and I am not.


I thought I’d backtrack a bit since I used the term “negative emotions” in my last post. What I’m coming to understand is that emotions are not necessarily positive or negative; or black and white. Like so many other things in life, they are more neutral and gray.

Shadow emotions are the darker emotions that we experience, and when we ignore, avoid, or suppress these emotions we are disowning a part of ourselves—and filling a space inside of us with these ‘creatures’ that we have cast aside. Apparently they remain there, waiting to come out.

Embracing our shadow emotions, on the other hand, is a way that we can process our experiences without denial, leading to better self-awareness, healing, and change. I think of it the same way that I think of everything these days, since I came to believe… and that is that you have to bring difficult things out, into the light, where they can be seen and dealt with.

So, maybe this is my “cheater” way of lumping them together… the emotions that I experience now and then that I consider negative… like sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, shame, embarrassment, and jealousy.

I think jealousy is what my image depicts the most. I feel jealousy when I peruse Facebook. I enjoy my solitude (a great deal) and use it to help myself stay healthy, learn, and grow… but when I take a timeout and check social media to see what my friends or even acquaintances are up to… the first thing that I feel is a pang of jealousy. What they are up to always looks like so much more fun that what I’m up to myself!

But, when I embrace these emotions, and think about it rationally, I realize that my jealousy has to do with social comparison, which is not healthy. Comparing ourselves and our lives to others is never a good thing. And photographs never tell the whole story. I also believe that my feelings (or pangs as I prefer to call them) are trying to tell me something—that perhaps it’s time to get out a bit more and socialize. I’ll work on that.

In the meantime, all is well. I am here, with my shadow, and we are content.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

Carl Jung

Emotions: Hope

“Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.”

—Dr. Judith Rich

I’ve been exploring faith and hope, and looking at the differences between the two—especially when it comes to visual interpretations. My thoughts were that hope would be yellow and bright because I compared it to optimism, and optimists are often sunny and upbeat.

Faith, on the other hand, I imagined as dark. I guess because faith is about putting your trust in something or someone else. For some (like me), that faith is in God. The thing about faith is that you’re letting go, or giving up some of your control, and—as every control freak knows—that is pretty scary. It’s like stepping out into the unknown.

That being said, faith was what I had in mind as I worked on my creation. As soon as the image was complete, however, I looked at it and thought “wow… that is not faith. That is definitely HOPE. I can feel it.”

So… I started checking things out. I think that the standard definitions don’t do hope any justice. Here are some of the meanings that I found for hope:

  • a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
  • to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true
  • a feeling of optimism or a desire that something will happen

It’s so basic. So simple. Like, “yeah… I hope I win the Lotto someday. As if hope is no big deal—or just wishful thinking. But, here’s the funny thing. The word hopeless is much more severe, and many compare it to despair. Hopeless means having or feeling no hope · unable to be changed · unable to be helped or improved : very bad.

Then I read somewhere that “hope is the belief things will work, especially when it seems otherwise.” So my vision of hope makes sense. In a world of uncertainty and despair, HOPE is what keeps us going. If we let hope disappear, the world will go dark.

Thank you for reading…
Peace, Love, and Hope!

Emotions: Joy

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.

—Emily Dickinson

I’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose of my blog. What is it exactly? I know, right?

I’ve had many objectives since I started—from journaling about the story of my recovery, to photography, art, poetry, a bit of fiction (still with no endings), and an attempt at a health & lifestyle makeover (that I may resume privately in the future).

These constant and never ending transitions illustrate perfectly what I was referring to in my previous post, Fluidity. I’ll never commit to just one purpose in life… and that is final.

Anyway, I enjoy working with prompts and/or challenges because they inspire me to think and to express myself, whether it be written or visual. I’ve used the alphabet twice and can give you 26 reasons why I won’t be doing that again. So that is out.

One thing I know about myself (and my artistic creations) is that my emphasis is always on learning and experimenting with techniques. I guess you could say that my analytical side takes the wheel. What I find difficult with visuals, on the other hand, is letting go and expressing myself freely. My creative side likes to sit back and let the analytical half do all the work.

So… I thought I would challenge myself and see if I could create feelings or emotions without getting all caught up in the tools that I use and so on. And tonight we have my first attempt: JOY.

In all honesty, I failed the challenge. Originally. I set out to create LOVE, and I think that my art actually shows how I feel when I’m in love (or infatuated), but the dancer is all alone and it reminds me of my misadventures in love… all giddy and unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.

As I thought about it, however, I realized that I still experience the feeling that I used to get whenever I thought that I was falling in love… and that feeling is joy. Only now there are no strings attached, and no love-sick hangovers to get through.

Joy is wonderful… and it makes me feel like dancing.

When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.