When you feel that some people have just the knack of pouncing on your irritation button, consider this,

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung

The shadow or ‘shadow aspect’, according to Jungian psychology is the part of the unconscious mind which contains our repressed weaknesses, shortcomings and instincts. We all have a ‘shadow aspect’ and when we learn to integrate that into our consciousness, we become aware of all the qualities that we deny about ourselves yet plainly see in others.

Debbie Ford, coach, teacher and author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers and The Secret of the Shadow, offers a simple exercise which can help us to identify our repressed qualities. You need a little quiet time to answer four questions. She advises that you close your eyes while you focus on each answer and naturally answer truthfully. It is something that we all have and need to accept and embrace.

What is the quality you like most about yourself? Take about 40 seconds to single out that quality about yourself that is top of the list. Perhaps you’re generous or loyal or humorous, for example.

How do you display that quality? Think of two ways in which you try to get people to see that quality you like best about yourself.

Be present in that quality and then find the quality that is the opposite of your best quality. Write it down. How do you feel about that opposite quality? Do you like it? Do you judge it in others, frequently criticise it? You probably notice that you attract many people with that quality.

Where, how and in whom do you see that quality? Write it down.

In this way, Debbie Ford says, you have just exposed one of your core shadows. And it’s okay! We have many of them and by embracing our shadows, we set ourselves free.

“Anyone who comes into your life, under any circumstances, has something to teach you.” Martha Beck

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