Finding Your Brilliance in the Jungian Shadow

In this episode of our mindset series, we talk about the light and dark side of the personality and Jung’s concept of the Shadow.

  •  What is the Shadow?
  •  How the Shadow is actually mostly our light side, the part that we hide that is most brilliant.
  •  Why we admire people unlike us and how that points to your shadow – your unlived self.
  •  How to begin to recognize your shadow in others.

Watch the next Soul Session in this series on our YouTube Channel.

Finding Your Brilliance in the Jungian Shadow


Debra Maldonado  00:01

Hello, welcome to Soul Sessions with Creative Mind. I’m Debra Berndt Maldonado.

Robert Maldonado  00:08

And I’m Dr. Robert Maldonado. And today we’re talking about the brilliance in the shadow,

Debra Maldonado  00:15

The brilliance in the shadow. We’re going to dispel the myths of the shadow being everyone’s dark side and that it’s negative and evil, and we need to get rid of it. We’re going to talk about Jung’s concept of the shadow in a coaching model. And we hope that this is going to inspire you to do your shadow work and free your mind. Because I think it’s life changing.

Robert Maldonado  00:44

It is. I really don’t understand how people can get by without understanding at least the basics of Jungian models.

Debra Maldonado  00:55

A lot of Western psychology is about building up the ego. And Jungian psychology is so different, it’s so unique, because it’s about letting go of the ego a little bit in it, but integrating other parts of ourselves and not just identifying with just the ego. I find that this work is very liberating in a way. I spent many years doing lots of self help building up my ego. And after a while— I mean, it’s not bad but after a while, there’s another level you can go to. That’s where the Shadow Work comes in. And you really aren’t free until you face your shadow. So let’s talk about what is the shadow for people that don’t know, for people that are new to Jung, or maybe a refresher for people who studied him before.

Robert Maldonado  01:44

I don’t think we can define the shadow without defining the persona. Because they go hand in hand, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or something like that.

Debra Maldonado  01:55

We talked about the persona in our last episode. So if you’ve missed that, definitely go back and check it out.

Robert Maldonado  02:02

But just for review, the persona is the mask, the role that we play in society. Externally, you can think about it as your personality. And then internally, it’s that ego, that sense of I, the self concept that we have in our mind. Initially, Jung believed this to be only a preliminary stage of human development, that we needed to develop this persona in order to feel ourselves as an entity in society, and to be accepted by the society, by our clans, our culture, our families, as well. Now, he says, as you are developing and growing into this role, this persona you’re playing, there are things that you have to push away, that you cannot include in the persona, they’re either morally unacceptable to you or to the society, therefore they don’t serve a function. 

Debra Maldonado  03:15

Initially as for your family, that “I can’t fit into this family”, like my family, if you don’t like sports, there’s something wrong with you. You don’t like the Yankees? Come on! That kind of bonding. And we want to belong, that need to belong and need to have each other, we’re social creatures. So there’s a lot of pressure for us to conform. If you look at the world, there’s very few independent thinkers, everyone’s pretty much in that herd mentality, as Jung would say. This is actually the danger of this from a global standpoint, is that if no one is waking up, and everyone’s just following what everyone else is doing, we’re going to keep following maybe the wrong information or following destructive leaders. This can lead to a lot of different terrible things that happen in the world, because we’re not having that critical thinking of “Is this right? Is this wrong? Does this apply to me?” We just blindly follow. So initially, it serves its purpose. But we’re not meant to be that forever.

Robert Maldonado  04:24

Unfortunately, the way Jung developed his idea of the shadow, because he was developing it in the context of his therapy work, working with people with mental health issues. His whole work, of course, was in psychiatry, in the sense of working to define mental wellness and mental illness. A lot of people read his work or get a hold of his ideas and they get that image that there’s really something dark and foreboding about the shadow. Of course, there are people that would have very dark tendencies that were pushed away into the shadow, especially in mental health settings. But if you think just in terms of everyday people, the most of our shadows are simply about what helps us get along in society and what is not adaptive to it.

Debra Maldonado  05:33

It’s almost like the pleasing personality, pleasing to others. That famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is basically how to create a persona. If you think about work, you have a persona — if I get certain degrees, and I dress a certain way, they’ll hire me. If I look a certain way, I’ll get the right partner. Even in the family, there’s the accolades of “I’m the helping child, I’m the one who’s there for the family, the rescuer.” We identify with those roles. There’s a lot in psychology about the roles that people play. We almost feel like it’s given to us versus that we choose it, and then we’re stuck with it. For me, a lot of times I felt early on before I found out about Jung, I would feel like I was trapped in this personality, that was just not optimal.It’s like I’m stuck in who I am, there’s something wrong with me kind of thing. I would do personal development to make my persona better, like, I’m going to be more confident, and I’m going to be more fun. Then we end up just creating something that we know is false and it’s not true to us. We still feel that the outer world has power, and we have no power. The persona really was developed from the assumption that the world has more power than we do.

Robert Maldonado  07:03

Then of course, we’re talking about it from our perspective in a coaching model. We’re looking at this dynamic between the role that we play consciously in society, the way we describe and identify ourselves, this self concept — and the shadow. There’s that duality of what we put forth as the things we identify with and what we rejected about ourselves. Jung would say that shadow element is unconscious, it’s running in the mind, but it’s running on unconsciously, meaning it’s below the radar, we’re not able to really perceive it in our everyday interaction. Most people think the person that triggers me, the people that I see out there on the internet that I see as bad or evil, they believe those are true. The ordinary person believes the badness, the shadow elements are out there, I can see them in others but it’s not me. Whereas Jung is saying, integrating the shadow is morally difficult because of that, because you have to accept that the people I identify as bad or triggering me, they’re really pointing at my own shadow.

Debra Maldonado  08:40

Not that you are that way, but that you are fearing being perceived that way. What I love about Jung is that he talks about that polarity, everything has other opposite. I remember my early days of personal growth is like creating this idealistic me, that’s all good, all enlightened, all powerful, I got rid of all my negative baggage from my childhood, and there’s this ideal person that has this perfection. If we build that up as our persona, that means the opposite that we push away is the mess, the uninvolved person, the reckless person, we put that in our shadow. We don’t realize that you can’t have one side without the other. What Jung says about integration is that you’d have to see that you’re not the persona or the shadow, that you’re something else. I do feel that sometimes people do Shadow Work, and even we’ve seen this happen in people that we’ve worked with, where they take on the persona, they push away the shadow, and then they’re like “Okay, I’m going to integrate my shadow”, so they just flip it. I’m going to be this badass bitchy woman, I’m gonna put niceness in my shadow because I’ve been nice my whole life. So they just swap it, but you’re still trying to compensate from the other. It’s this duality that we’re really trying to— it’s like rearranging the furniture, we never really get anywhere because we’re just swapping personas. This episode is really about the brilliance. A lot of people think that shadow is dark, it’s all our negative beliefs. I’ve seen so many people misrepresent the shadow saying it’s negative beliefs, it’s not good enough and stuff. That’s not the shadow at all, the shadow is more a behavior or psychological, psychic pattern that’s much bigger than just thought or belief about yourself. It’s more like a whole construction, expression that you can’t put out there. I think when we go into the conditioning socially, we try to regulate ourselves to the group. It’s that mediocreness that creates that persona shadow. When I think about the brilliance, the first thing I think about is what’s beyond mediocre, what’s that shining light, what’s that you becoming successful, you having great love, you having all these amazing things that are different than the construction or the conditioning of your family. That’s what I see is the brilliance in the shadow. But then there’s another level to that.

Robert Maldonado  11:35

The next level beyond that is that the brilliance in the individual can only really shine forth, when they integrate their shadow. When they’re able to move beyond the duality of “this is good and this is bad.” Because if you think about how we define goodness or adaptability in our persona, meaning in the personality that we put forth into the world, we’re using a completely arbitrary system based on our culture.

Debra Maldonado  12:14

It is assumed that there’s a set rule, but it really is arbitrary.

Robert Maldonado  12:18

It’s arbitrary, because we’re all born into different cultures. And we know what is good in one culture is considered negative in another. For example, eye contact, in some cultures, you’re expected to make good eye contact and to look at the person that you’re speaking with and all that. In other cultures that’s considered bad manners.

Debra Maldonado  12:39

Or even mental health. In some cultures, everyone has a therapist, and in other cultures, it doesn’t even exist. If you have a mental health issue, you have to keep it hidden. So it is this arbitrary thing. We make up this self concept that we think is real based on false information or misleading information, not solid information.

Robert Maldonado  13:09

So it’s not about integrating bad things or negative things, because a lot of people think “There’s anger in my shadow, these negative emotions”, all those things are necessary. They’re part of our human nature to protect us and to give us warning systems. But the brilliance comes through integration because then you’re free to really use your imagination, to create the kind of situations in your life that you know you’re capable of, and that you want to express. Whereas when you’re caught up in the shadow and playing that role, you’re compelled to keep away the shadow elements.

Debra Maldonado  13:57

If you’re caught up in your persona, you mean.

Robert Maldonado  13:58

Yes. When you’re caught up in your persona, because the shadow elements, those things you’ve pushed away are too scary. Jung says that the shadow by nature threatens the persona you’ve created.

Debra Maldonado  14:16

You see these people all the time where there can maybe be unpopular in school, or they’re a nerdy person. Then all of a sudden this woman who is awkward as a kid comes out of her shell and becomes the beautiful woman like a swan. The duck becomes a swan. We tend to think that’s better. But then what happens is they push the ugly duckling in the shadow, and then they end up not feeling fully in their power because they’re saying “I have my importance and my power based on my looks, and what everyone sees me as beautiful.” It’s the same exact mechanism of what controlled you as the ugly duckling. So you’re just swapping a different role. But your same mechanism is other people, I have to worry about what other people think. I remember, growing up, I was just really smart in school, I always got A’s and the teachers always embarrassed me, called me out “Oh, well, Debra knows the answer.” I never had boyfriends in high school except my senior year, that’s when I broke free. But I was always the smart girl that wasn’t attractive. Then when I started blossoming into my beauty, got my hair done differently, dressing differently, creating this different persona, I put that intelligence in my shadow. I would be fun Debbie. I even dated someone from high school once and he remembered me from high school. He’s like “Why do you pretend you’re dumb all the time? Why do you have this airhead thing?” And I said “Men don’t like smart women.” It’s that shadow part of me I had to put away. A lot of times we do that, we put on an act. And in the shadow is something we’re not conscious of. But truly, I was not conscious that I put it away. It was this automatic adaptation, the social message. For women especially, you have to look a certain way, you have to weigh a certain amount, and we create this persona, and then we reject that other part. But that part is still there. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s still controlling us. And the freedom comes from not identifying with the ego. That’s really the key.

Robert Maldonado  16:58

There are a lot of gender issues that play into persona-shadow elements. For me, for example, it was about ambition. The persona I had created was educated, looking for wisdom. The ambition, the drive to create something new, to succeed in the world often takes the back burner or goes into the shadow as Jung would say. Individuation, what it allows you to do is through the integration of persona-shadow, then you’re able to choose your life, your destiny in a conscious way, because the persona-shadow — you can think of it as adaptability, it’s helping you adapt to society, be okay with yourself, defining the role that you’re playing in society, that it’s acceptable to the group, and it’s acceptable to you. But that’s not real freedom, because you’re very limited in only playing that role. It limits you by saying anything outside of that role is unacceptable, you can’t move outside of that. A lot of people wonder “How come I can’t create success? How come I can’t do the things that I see the people that I admire doing?” So they know there’s that admiration, there’s that wanting to do things that other people are doing. But they say “It’s not for me” because of that identification with that limited role of the persona. The integration allows you then to say “If I admire something, I see a need to do something, I can do it.”

Debra Maldonado  18:59

When we say the brilliance is that we see our shadow in the people, we say that’s them, not me anytime, whether it’s the good positive, what you identify as positive or negative qualities. You see someone like Oprah and say, she’s a billionaire, she’s successful, she’s knows all the famous people. You may admire her and love her stuff, or Bernie Brown, a lot of women think she’s amazing. The thing is, if you admire something in someone else, that’s in your shadow, your persona is just taking on the role of this ordinary person. So if you think about the persona of the ordinary person, the shadow would be the extraordinary person. But the ego is afraid of being that extraordinary person. So it’s not that you can’t be that or you have to think positive and say affirmations. You have to really get to “What is holding me back? Why is my ego afraid of me being extraordinary? What is the downside of that?” We all think we want to, we think we have to visualize. But what is that mechanism? For me, it was always the bigger our business became, the more responsibility I felt for people and more people I was responsible for. It was a lot of pressure. It’s easy to help 10 people versus help 100 people and have the pressure. A lot of times people hold back — being judged on a big level, there’s a lot of reasons why. So we can watch them from afar and say “They’re so amazing.” But what we don’t know is that we have that potential in us, there’s nothing holding us back from having anything that anyone you admire has, except your own fear, the fear of being. We don’t even realize we fear becoming them, because we admire them. It’s a tricky thing. We don’t really see it as “I’m afraid of becoming them. We just don’t think we can be.”

Robert Maldonado  20:54

Out of the whole Jungian psychology piece came out this idea of the eternal boy and the eternal girl.

Debra Maldonado  21:05

We’re getting it to the puella and puer aeternus.

Robert Maldonado  21:09

It is about maturation, it is about accepting responsibility for your life. If you notice, when we’re caught up in the persona-shadow, we’re not really taking responsibility. We’re saying these external forces, it’s the economy, it’s my sister Kate, it’s my parents. There’s always these good excuses. Of course, in the culture and in society, no one will blame me for those things. They’ll say “We understand, you’ve had it rough, you were dealt a bad hand. And therefore you should not succeed, or you have a good excuse for not succeeding, or not being happy, not being fulfilled in your work.” In the individuation process, in the integration of the persona shadow, you drop those excuses, there are no more excuses. If you’re responsible for yourself and your life, you’re going to take the reins of your life. It’s a challenge, yes. But you’re able to move towards creating the kind of life that you know you want to create.

Debra Maldonado  22:31

It takes great moral courage to face the shadow because it really does take courage to accept responsibility for your life. When we’re younger, everyone takes care of us on the outside, everything’s externalized. We were born, our mother feeds us, clothes us, we didn’t have to get a job. When we were in high school, we were still home. We go to college to take care of us, give us that degree, then go to into the workplace, and then the workplace takes care of us. Mostly in society, we’re always dependent on the outside world to make sure that we’re okay. I think, especially now, people are still acting young. I think that our society has grown younger because we admire youth more than I think we did 50 years ago. Maybe 50 years ago, we admired our grandparents and the wise old people. Now youth is being kind of idolized, with everyone putting their filters on their Instagram, and they look 10 years younger. It’s this kind of wanting to stay young, even mothers, they want to be their daughter’s best friend, they want to dress like their daughter, that forever 21. We think as a culture we need to start to grow up, we need to mature. I don’t know if it’s just the US or America or Western culture, no one wants to take responsibility. It is hard because then if you can’t blame anyone else, you turn inward. But I think a lot of people think that taking responsibility means blaming yourself. And really, you can’t blame yourself for something you’re not conscious of. You have to take just responsibility for understanding who you are. That’s what you take responsibility. The more you understand who you are, the more you understand your shadow, what’s unconscious, the more you grow, and the more you can basically then really make choices that are free.

Robert Maldonado  24:46

Jung critiques modern society this way. He says, in getting rid or trying to get rid of our past, the institutions of the past religion, cultural norms that helped people move into these more mature stages of life, we lost those mechanisms. How do you initiate people into this responsibility for themselves? It used to be that there were rituals, precisely designed to help people do that, you’re not a boy anymore, you’re not a girl anymore, you’re meant to step into a bigger role. It was kind of culturally and socially sanctioned. So that you understood what was expected of you at these different stages of life. Now, it’s just a free flow. Nobody really instructs anybody else on how is it that you’re meant to be doing life.

Debra Maldonado  26:03

I feel like for me, I finally took responsibility when I became an entrepreneur. I felt like I was a little paella aeterna, the eternal girl, just looking for someone to marry me and take care of me, that whole Cinderella, you’re going to be taken care of, we’re going to find this person, and my whole life’s gonna be better, I don’t need to worry about a career, my own money, or my own future, I just need someone to rescue me from a single life. When I started out as an entrepreneur, I didn’t have the company to pay my regular paycheck, get my little allowance every two weeks, it was “I have to be in charge of my own money.” And there was no one telling me “You have to be at work”, I had to be responsible for showing up and doing things I needed to do. I had a German father who was very strict and always kept us on task. So I had that conditioning in me to be responsible that way. But that’s when I really found my power. Because if you’re waiting for the world to take care of you and always thinking the world is letting me down and not saying “Where’s my power?” you’re going to feel like you’re just reacting to life.

Robert Maldonado  27:24

I think it does begin with a knowledge and that ability to self examine, because that’s what Jung was talking about saying, you have to be aware. In other words, you have to create a psychology or a culture of teaching this to people, a way of helping them understand what life demands of me. Am I just here to enjoy life, and eat, drink and be merry until it’s time to go? Or is there a higher purpose in this?

Debra Maldonado  28:09

Are you saying that most people are conditioned to take from life versus give back?

Robert Maldonado  28:16

I mean, if you just depend on your senses to tell you what’s good and what’s bad, obviously, we’ve moved towards pleasurable things. But we know that if we just operate on that principle, it leads us nowhere except to gliding ourselves with more food if it’s available, or seeking more and more pleasure, more and more material. That’s the whole basis of modern society raises concern, the consumer society that if you get more, you’ll be happier.

Debra Maldonado  28:50

There was this big movement in I think, late 80s, early 90s. I remember in Colorado, everything was about buying the bigger house, moving out further into the suburbs. You can have this giant sprawling house and you’ll be happy. I lived in Denver, and there was a place called Highlands Ranch, it was like the suburban heaven, we said, where married people go to die. You go out there, you never see them again, they just disappear. And it’s this idea that the more we have, then they’re unsatisfied and you see people get divorced, and you’re thinking “I thought they had a happy life.”

Robert Maldonado  29:34

But we know a statistics. Some of the most abundant countries on the planet are the most miserable. In other words, more material does not generate more happiness.

Debra Maldonado  29:49

Didn’t they say it was Bhutan that was the happiest place because their whole culture is about being joyful. Materialism isn’t bad because it’s nice to have resources. But it can’t be the only thing that we have.

Robert Maldonado  30:07

Again, if you go back to this idea of individuation, if most people in society are not individuating, in other words, they don’t have a way to take the reins of their life, to take responsibility for their lives, then they are buying into that initial idea of more is better. The more your persona is accepted, the happier you’ll be. And that’s just not true. We know, the individual has to take responsibility for themselves and create their own meaning. If they depend on the society to give them the meaning, it sets you up for feeling like I’m being manipulated, I’m being exploited by the society, where I’m just the— the more I work—

Debra Maldonado  31:04

And it’s all to build up this persona, what your neighbors think, look how good this person’s doing, be successful, and what kind of car they’re driving.

Robert Maldonado  31:14

It just ends up creating this dissatisfaction with life, which is the source of suffering, basically.

Debra Maldonado  31:22

You said once that it’s a tragedy when things work out for people that are not enlightened.

Robert Maldonado  31:29

If it works out for you in the persona, you start to think “Oh, I’m doing pretty good. People respect me and I have prestige.” But you’re not doing your internal work. That is a tragedy, because now you’re going to lock yourself into that pattern. It’s the golden handcuffs of people that are very successful but they haven’t done the internal work. So those things don’t really hold the meaning for them. They’re just external roles that they’re playing. It’s that imposter syndrome that people fall into as well.

Debra Maldonado  32:14

Famous people too, they get all that success and wealthy, and I know Jim Carrey talks about it a lot — I wish everyone was rich and famous and had all the money in the world and all the attention that I have, and realize that that’s not it, that there’s something more. When we think about brilliance, the brilliance in us is not our persona. It’s understanding that we’re more than just the ego. We are an unlimited being connected to the cosmos, we’re pure consciousness, we are this bigger concept than just a small little human trying to survive in the world. I think that sometimes, like you say, the good life is a trap. I think a lot of people that seek personal development have their sad story, they have this thing that happened, that set them up for failure. And that’s why they’re having all these problems in life. But I want to say that no matter who you are, no matter how perfect your childhood is, we’re all set up the same way to believe our persona. I find that the people that had the most difficulty, they have the fastest track to self realization than someone who’s had this perfect. They say that you bulldoze all the barriers, you’re just moving through life, and everything just works out perfectly, you’re in the flow, you don’t really gain courage and strength through that, or meaning in your life, than if you had to struggle and wrestle with what is life about. My famous saying is that the path of least resistance is the path of least existence. We want to face those conflicts that come up, the shadows, the people that trigger us to know who we are, so we can experience the brilliance of who we are versus settle for this little tiny uniform persona that we get, this little sliver of mask that’s going to keep us happy and make our life better.

Robert Maldonado  34:27

As far as the challenges, there are two perspectives. If you look at it from the ego persona perspective, challenges are only obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your goals. A lot of coaching models are based on that idea of “Let’s get rid of the blocks and let’s get you to achieve those goals.” There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you understand that you’re simply working on the persona there, you’re working on the external level. The other perspective is that this higher self is really putting these challenges there for you so that you can work with your mind.

Debra Maldonado  35:17

You can see the edges of your suffering through the challenges. I love what you say that it’s like a lock, the things that we’re attached to lock us in. When we get triggered, it gives us the key to unlock us and free us. Every time we’re triggered, it’s our freedom right there. But we want to avoid it. We want to avoid people that annoy us, we want to avoid difficulties, we want to avoid challenges. We’re always looking for that safe, predictable, non-risky way to go in life. That’s where we don’t really live it, we don’t have a life well lived, we have a life existed. That’s not really what we’re meant to be here.

Robert Maldonado  35:59

You see the difficulty that left to our own devices will tend to avoid the difficult parts of life because it’s always easier to blame others, to blame society, to blame the world for our problems and not take that responsibility. So we almost have to force ourselves to really make a conscious effort. That’s where coaching comes in, it’s a way to hold ourselves accountable and say, can you help me hold my feet to the fire so that I can do this difficult challenge? Because I know it’s going to give me the real meaning of my life, the real purpose.

Debra Maldonado  36:48

One of Jung’s quotes that I love, I’m gonna paraphrase because it’s pretty long. He said that the shadow is a narrow passage, very constricting at first, because you’re seeing the things you resist about yourself and about your humanity. But on the other side of the shadow is a wide open space where there’s no up nor down, no left nor right, no good nor bad, it becomes pure potential. You can’t get there unless you face your shadow, unless you get out of that duality of the ego and integrate and see that you’re not the ego. I think a lot of people try to read books on the shadow. I always hear people “what book should I read on this?” Read a book, but you have to get coaching, you have to go through the experience yourself, you have to wrestle with it. It is not easy. It’s not terrible but it is challenging, because your ego will resist the process. So you need someone to help you move through it. But on the other side, brilliant. That’s where the brilliance is.

Robert Maldonado  38:00

It is challenging because it’s such a personal thing. The difficulty is not intellectual. Most people can understand the concept of the shadow fairly easily. But emotionally, you have to face your own personal fears, your own personal judgments about what you don’t want to be. And that’s the difficult part, to sustain that focus on your own mind and to be accepting of it.

Debra Maldonado  38:40

I think the main thing for me working with the shadow is, I felt that I didn’t want anyone to think bad of me. I had such a barrier. I guess we all do, we want everyone to think good things of ourselves. To accept that sometimes we can say the wrong thing, and we can hurt people unconsciously, and owning that. We have such a resistance to just owning our mistakes or looking like a fool. It’s almost like the fear that if I don’t act perfectly and aligned with what other people expect of me, people are going to leave. This fear that you’re going to be abandoned by the tribe is so visceral, it’s like “you’re going to be alone and isolated forever and just wither away”, it’s a real fear that the ego has. When we face the shadow that’s what we’re facing — how can I be myself and risk put myself out there, risk not pleasing someone, someone thinking I’m wrong, someone feeling hurt by what I did. Not intentionally, but sometimes we do. We’re messy with people, we’re human beings, everyone has their own triggers. You can’t possibly create the perfect persona that’s going to fit in with every person in the world, that makes everybody happy. So it’s exhausting, it’s such a big pressure to do that. That’s why I think it’s so scary, we have to let go of that control of what other people think. And it is the toughest thing to do because we all care. We all care, and it’s a good quality, but also it holds us back. If we didn’t care what people think and were reckless with people, we would be alone. But that’s not really what we’re after, we’re after just making a choice out of it.

Robert Maldonado  40:35

It’s ironic that most of us think that by fitting into society, we’re doing society a favor, but it’s the opposite. We’re really bringing society down by playing along and just fitting in, keeping the same patterns going. What really helps society is people to exert their individuality, their real ideas and humanity about what’s going on. How can we really help people? How can we really impact society in a creative and positive way? That only comes through people that are willing to look at their shadow, to really do the internal work.

Debra Maldonado  41:25

This makes me think about, I remember being in groups sometimes, personal development groups, and I’m sure you all can relate to this. You’re in a group. And then in a way, it’s easier to be with the people that aren’t awake than the people that are because the people that are, are trying to coach you all the time. Like you almost have to have a higher level of awareness in the group, you can’t just be yourself. I don’t think that’s where we want to be either. We don’t want to be in this judgy “you’re not awake, you’re projecting”, calling people out. I’ve been in different groups where it’s almost uncomfortable just saying “I’m having this problem”, and everyone trying to fix you. So you definitely want to be in a community or a culture where you’re not judged for even being human, and you’re not judged for projecting, that’s just the nature of your mind. It’s more of an acceptance versus the whole groups trying to call you out on things. I think there’s a lot of group therapies where they’re all calling everyone out, then you’re afraid to even show your humanity because now you have to put on this persona of being this enlightened person that took this workshop, now you should be perfect. I don’t know if you’ve never been in those groups, but I’ve been in those groups, and it feels very uncomfortable. It’s almost easier to be with my unconscious friends, we can be silly and crazy. And then you get into these kind of communities where people are calling each other out, there’s a lot of judgment, “you don’t know it yet”, “you need to grow” and that kind of thing. So what we’re really want to do is when we face the shadow, not calling people out and being real with each other and accepting in a non-judgmental way.

Robert Maldonado  43:18

I think it’s a messy process. Any human affair. If you think about relationships, if you think about groups or anything, it’s a messy business. We’re going to fail at it. But the intention to grow to communicate, even if it’s done badly, even if it’s burning up in our faces — that’s just human nature, we have to work through it.

Debra Maldonado  43:48

I think that was a lot of my projection too, that I’m in this group now, I have to act that I’m perfect, I’ve done the workshop and now I can do things, I shouldn’t be a certain way. You’re just buying into that persona. But I do see a lot of it, people calling people out and making people feel bad. I don’t think that’s part of being open and being honest and direct with people. It should be more compassionate, when we’re going through it. It’s really the compassion for ourselves that we need to feel about the times that we’re not perfect. This isn’t about becoming the perfect persona, the most enlightened persona, we want to be the most aware of everything, all parts of ourselves and love all the others parts that are a little rough around the edges still.

Robert Maldonado  44:40

I think I’ve made all the mistakes that you can make in personal development. I’m tolerant with most people, and also tolerant people say “I can’t do this, it’s too hard for me, I am not ready for it, it’s too scary for me.” I understand that because I’ve been there. It just feels like it’s easier to go back to our preset patterns, our defense mechanisms and just go along with the program.

Debra Maldonado  45:15

There shouldn’t be this pressure to be perfect. I think that’s the main thing. Like you said, people are going to be messy, to be compassionate with people as they go through their process, and to have this hierarchy of it. And I know a lot of it was for me, when I was in those groups, that was my shadow of I’m afraid to show my mistakes, or where I need to grow more, hiding that a little bit. That comes in too, so the ego will use your personal growth as a way to create a persona shadow as well.

Robert Maldonado  45:53

Ultimately, we do the best we can, we set the best intention we can set, go in with the understanding that we’ll probably get it wrong, we’ll probably mess up. But that we still want to try to do it.

Debra Maldonado  46:17

I like this too, when it comes to even any relationship, to feel that you could say what you need to say, without the fear of them leaving you, that you can actually be yourself and be honest and vulnerable. For me, it was hiding the weakness, like I had to hide that. I remember one time when we first met, I first started my hypnotherapy practice, you were still getting your PhD, or you got your PhD and were finishing up everything. I was a little scared about money. And I remember getting nervous. It was very shortly after we met. I was embarrassed that I got upset, it had nothing to do with you, more like I’m stressed out. And you said to me “Deb, I feel closer to you now.” I love that because I was like that for the first time. It was like I didn’t have to hide my vulnerability. I didn’t have to put on this mask of “I got it all together”. I can be vulnerable and a mess, and he still loves me. That’s what love is about. If we understand that we do love more deeply other people, when we’re vulnerable and open. Do you remember that conversation? It just touched me so much. I think it was the first time I ever had a man or even allowed myself to be vulnerable and show how I really felt or showed my real fears. And to have someone say “I love that, do more of that” — oh, okay. Instead of “there’s no crying in this household”, in my family growing up, crying was a weakness, and it was just nice to allow that part of my shadow out, this vulnerable, scared part of me is also a part of me, and not shoved around the corner and hide it from the world. I can be that and it’s okay.

Robert Maldonado  48:26

That just comes with the experience, with inner work, with working with many families. In a lot of my clinical practice, I worked with families. I saw that a lot of what tripped them up was this idea that they had to appear to be getting along. As long as they were doing that it was fine. That gets people into trouble. The appearance doesn’t matter that much. It’s really what’s going on in the real relationship, in the real communication between people. Because if you focus on the appearance, that often sets you up for good enough, it’s good enough just to appear to be getting along, to be happ to be doing whatever you’re doing. What matters is are you happy? Are you really happy? Are you really communicating? Are you really living your life?

Debra Maldonado  49:29

I want to share that my family uses humor as a defense. We tease each other a lot. We love each other, but we don’t really talk about it that much. I just recently went home, it was my mom’s 80th birthday. It was all my siblings, we are hardly ever in the same room because we live all over the country, and we don’t talk a lot on the phone. Certain siblings are closer than others and we’re all just sitting there and I don’t know who started it, probably me. But we just started going around and saying what we appreciate about each other. It’s something that we don’t do normally. And it was just so beautiful, to just allow ourselves to give to the other person. There were a lot of tears. And it was just such a different experience. I don’t know if COVID, being away from each other and finally being able to be together in one place forced that shift but it was probably one of the most special moments with my family ever. It was really, really, really nice. My mom was taking a nap, so she came down in between, missed most of it, but then we started going around, it was just so tender and wonderful. I think that we want to be nice, but it’s almost like that tenderness seems to be non-adaptable in our society. Giving someone a compliment, being able to receive a compliment.

Robert Maldonado  50:57

It’s uncomfortable for a lot of us. Just because of that messiness, emotions are not clean and precise. It’s an energy that we’re expressing and feeling between each other.

Debra Maldonado  51:17

As we work with our own shadow, we’re able to allow these other aspects out, the unlived part of ourself that the persona hasn’t let basically out in the open, out of the closet, basically. We can be more of a whole person, we can be more rich and not afraid to hurt, interact and be ourselves with other people and really be fully expressed. That’s what I love about the brilliance of the shadow. So we have a lot of comments, they really love it. “The happiest person ever met didn’t even have four walls in his house.” “This was my favorite podcast so far.” Great. “I love that part about coaching, I can get messy and be blind, and my coach could keep the light on my feet.” I think a lot of people resist coaching or that one on one, they want to do the work on their own, they want to read a book or do a workshop, but not really get the coaching, I notice there’s a lot of people that hesitate. It’s because we’re so afraid of that vulnerability that comes into that relationship, to really get close to another person. That’s where life is, to let yourself let someone else in, allow them in and you in them. It’s beautiful.

Robert Maldonado  52:39

I can attest, I had obviously seen a lot of psychologists and professors and people doing incredibly brilliant things with their life. But until I worked with coaches, and I saw how they were doing their work in a very direct and practical way with people, I really didn’t have a clue as to what the possibilities were with coaching. And I don’t think I would be here basically without that experience. So thank you to everybody that’s putting themselves out there as coaches. Even if they’re messing it up, their intention is there. And that’s a very powerful statement for human beings to see.

Debra Maldonado  53:37

I’m glad that it’s becoming more and more common for coaching and growing so much, because I do feel like we need an ally in our life, life is not easy. No matter how easy you think it is, you get married, you have a good job, all those things lined up, but it’s still hard life. There’s people that get sick, there’s challenges with your job. There’s difficult people and complex relationships. It’s not easy. So we need someone to help us work with our mind and to understand ourselves. Going inward and understanding who we really are on a deep level is really the key to freedom and the key to happiness. Because you can acquire a lot of great material items in the world, even people as an object in the world. But until you know who you are, you’re in poverty mentality. When you know who you are, you’re the richest person in the world. And it’s scary to be vulnerable.

Robert Maldonado  54:47

Thanks for the great comments and questions.

Debra Maldonado  54:54

We’ll see you next week on our next podcast.

Robert Maldonado  55:00

We’re continuing our series on mindset.

Debra Maldonado  55:01

Then we’re going to get into relationships, our next series, so that should be good. Not just romantic but all types of relationships, family, parenting, work relationships, our boss, our customers, team, if you’re running a team, those kind of relationships, it’s going to be very interesting. So take care everyone, have a great weekend, and we’ll see you soon.

Robert Maldonado  55:29

Thanks for watching. 

Debra Maldonado  55:31 

Bye bye. 

Robert Maldonado  55:32 

Stay well.

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