Gold Star 3-2-1 Shadow Process

First choose what you want to work with. It is usually easiest to begin with a "difficult person" to whom you are attracted or repelled (e.g., romantic partner, boss, parent—or you ILP itself.) Alternatively, pick a dream image or a body sensation that creates a distraction in your awareness. Keep in mind that the disturbance may be a positive or negative one.

You can recognize the shadow in two ways. Shadow material either:

 1. Makes you negatively hypersensitive, easily triggered, reactive, irritated, angry, hurt, or upset. Or it may keep coming up, perhaps even as an emotional mood that pervades your life.


2. Makes you positively hypersensitive, easily infatuated, possessive, obsessed, or overly attracted, or perhaps it even becomes an ongoing idealization that structures your motivations or mood.

Then follow the 3 steps of the process:

Using a journal or an empty chair, observe the disturbance very closely, and then describe the person, image, or sensation in vivid detail using 3rd-person pronouns (e.g. he, him, she, her, they, their, it, its, etc.).  This is your opportunity to explore your experience fully, particularly what it is that bothers you.  Don’t minimize the disturbance—take the opportunity to describe it as fully as possible.

Enter into a simulated dialogue with this object of awareness using 2nd-person pronouns (you and yours). This is your opportunity to enter into a relationship with the disturbance, so talk directly to the person, image, or sensation in your awareness.  You may ask questions such as "Who/what are you?  Where do you come from?  What do you want from me?  What do you need to tell me?  What gift are you bringing me?"  Then allow the disturbance to respond back to you.  Imagine realistically what they would say, and actually write it down or vocalize it.  Allow yourself to be surprised by what emerges in the dialogue.

1- BE IT
Now, writing or speaking in 1st-person, become the person, image or sensation that you have been exploring.  Use the 1st-person pronouns (I, me, mine).  See the world, including yourself, entirely from the perspective of that disturbance, and allow yourself to discover not only your commonalities, but how you really are one in the same.  Finally, make a statement of identification: "I am __________" or "_________ is me." This, by its nature, will almost always feel very discordant or “wrong.” (After all, it’s exactly what your psyche has been busy denying!) But try it on for size, since it always contains at least a kernel of truth.

This last step (the 1 of the 3-2-1) often has a second movement, in which you complete the process of fully reowning the shadow. Don’t just see the world from that perspective momentarily, but actually feel this previously excluded feeling or drive until it resonates clearly as your own. Then you can engage it and integrate it.

To complete the process, let the previously excluded reality register not just abstractly but on multiple levels of your being. This engenders a shift in awareness, emotion, and subtle energy that liberates the energy and attention that was held by your denial. It makes a new kind of participation in life and practice possible.

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