top of page
  • Writer's pictureNancy Willbern, PhD

Personal Shadow: Part 1

We create the thing we are defending against.

A Course in Miracles

Continuing on our topic of Shadow Work, I wanted to move away from the collective and talk a little bit about what the shadow is and the important roles it plays in our personal lives. To do that, we have to go way up high and look down on the planet earth from the level of the stars. That perspective exposes the shadow as a vitally important dynamic puzzle piece within the human developmental process. This blog entry will be an introduction to that dynamic relationship.

We’ll start at the beginning. When we come onto the planet we are equipped with an incredible radar system. This system is hard-wired to sense two essential – I will call them - Energetic Forces – because they are felt rather than understood. These two Energies are the building blocks and the healing agents of all life in the Universe. They constitute the very substance of Life, Itself. We call them: Truth and Love.

By Truth, I mean the Energy that resonates an inner YES. It is clear and concise. It doesn't need explanation. It rings true on the inside of our core and is experienced as strength, something to be trusted. It empowers us. Love, in this context brings with it the experience of felt-connection, not-alone, safety, being supported, comforted, understood, known, valued and guided. Please note: Given these contextual definitions, these two Energetic Forces are actually flip sides of the same coin. They always go together. You can’t have one without the other. When one is missing, the other will be missing, as well.

When we are in the presence of or have an interior experience of Truth/Love, we feel good inside. We feel strong in our core. Our heart is open and trusting. We feel aligned, free and connected. Love, peace and joy are its hallmarks. When Truth/Love is either missing or distorted in some way, we feel that too. It feels like a void or tension, like chaos, like a knot in our stomachs, heart-ache, a lump in our throats. Sometimes it feels heavy and dense, something sitting on our diaphragm, something weighing down on our shoulders. Sometimes, often times, it’s terrifying. The lack of Truth/Love is at best, uncomfortable and at worse excruciating.

Here’s how these two Energetic Forces play out in our lives - As infants, we experience life as seamless. We are at one with it all. We can’t tell where we end and our mother (primary care-taker) begins. But by the time we reach about the age of two, reality morphs into a collection of separate entities – each one having a boundary around it and a name. In addition, we begin to realize that our emerging self is one of those separate entities, as well. I, too have a boundary around me and have my very own personal name. This experience of the separate sense of self is when the radar system kicks in, loud and clear. We send out invisible feelers to tell us when we are on the receiving end of Truth/Love. When we are, we feel all warm, safe and cozy inside. When we are not, we feel alone and sick inside. We feel anything but safe. And so, we scramble.

When we are not in the presence of Truth/Love, Its lack of presence is experienced as gaps in Love, which must be True – or so we tell ourselves. When parts of Love are missing in our experience, Truth is replaced with illusions – distortions of the Truth. So, just as Truth and Love always arise together, so does less-than-Love always coincide with distortions-of-Truth Experiencing gaps in Love is confusing and scary. So, in response to this, our brilliant little psyches scramble to make up stories in our heads to explain why the Love is missing. And, given the power differential between ourselves and the powers-that-be, accompanied by our utter dependency, the innocent-child-in-us will inevitably turn this confusing and scary experience-of-lack-of-Love against the self. The child assumes that Love is being withheld because it – the child – is not enough or has done something wrong or is too much of something. Those stories about the self are assumed to be True.

There is more - The pain of that self-condemnation becomes the childhood wounding. And in response to the wounding, and in order to avoid further wounding, our brilliant little psyches come up with a plan to keep us safe and to win the Love that is being withheld. In other words, a plan is created to fill in the gaps where Love is missing. And this is where it gets really important and turns the whole mess on its head – That plan that is designed to fill in the gaps of Love, then becomes the very thing that prevents our awareness of Love’s actual presence in our lives. It blocks the Light of Truth. And that, right there is the birthplace of the personal shadow. Much more to come.

We create the thing we are defending against.

A Course in Miracles

Would love to get your comments or feedback. Does this make sense? Anybody relate? Talk to me.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page