Reintegrating the Shadow – Reclaiming our Dismembered Parts

 In We Presence

I have been participating in 12 days of #Quest2015 (see more at Tracking Wonder) and decided to post my response to Day 9 of #Quest2015 on this blog as it is relevant to collective virtuosity.

Eric Klein @EricKlein, author of Awakening the Corporate Soul: Four Paths to Unleash the Power of People at Work challenges us with this question:

How will you face your shadow bag and stop the stink, so you can bring forth what is best within you in 2015? What can you claim right now?

Eric draws from Robert Bly‘s work on the shadow, commenting that throughout our lives, we’ve cut off parts of ourselves and stuffed them into the “shadow bag.” Often, these are parts of ourselves that our parents and teachers thought did not fit into “civilized” society. Dismembering parts of ourselves is a normal part of the “domestication” process that Don Miguel Ruiz talks about in his books. The shadow bag begins to stink over time in order to remind our psyches that we must pay attention to our dismembered parts and begin a process of reintegration.

I don’t see my goal as “stopping the stink.” I have been working with the shadow for many years and facilitating workshops with my husband Jim Lockard on the topic and the shadow is not something to be avoided – it is something I embrace. Eric Klein says we “cut out the buoyant, leaping, energetic parts of yourself and stuff them onto the shadow bag.” – I perceive Eric’s challenge as an invitation to ask myself,

“What parts of myself have I toned down, altered, or eliminated in order to fit in?” This is a pithy question for me, because I have felt that I didn’t belong much of my professional life.

The CEO of a Fortune 100 corporate division (my manager at the time) once described me as “eccentric but brilliant.” The former CEO, in a fit of anger, once accused me of being an “intellectual snob.” It has taken several years since I left the corporate world to embrace my brilliance and feel confident so that I use it for the good of the planet.

I hid my femininity behind a navy blue suit and bow-tie.

navy suitWhen I first entered the corporate life I worked in a technology group on Wall Street for Shearson Lehman Brothers. I hid my femininity behind a navy blue suit and bow-tie. It wasn’t until my last position as an executive in the early 2000’s that I finally began to reclaim my feminine side, showing up for a job interview in a soft blue silk suit, sans stiff collar and bow tie. The same CEO who said I was an intellectual snob later told me that he almost didn’t hire me because he thought I’d be too soft, but he recognized the fierce strength within me over time. It’s time for me to fully express my feminine self, which is both soft and fierce.

There is a playful, joyful part of myself that I don’t often let shine.

I love to dance. After I left my music career, I competed in (and won) ballroom dance competitions around the U.S. and Canada. I stopped ballroom dance when I became a parent – balancing career and parenthood took up all of my time. As part of a homework assignment for a course in Resonant Leadership that I’m taking, I recently asked my husband to tell me about times when he saw me at my best. He told me that he’ll never forget the joy emanating from my face, body and being as I danced the jitterbug with one of our dear friends, James Mellon (James was in the original cast of West Side Story on Broadway).
In 2015, I’d like to dance more in all aspects of my life.


The author competing at the Ohio Star Ball in 1988

How does topic this relate to Collective Virtuosity?

In order to unleash our individual virtuosity, we must arrive with our whole self intact. In order to move into a state of collective virtuosity with others, we must express ourselves authentically and be vulnerable enough to show our whole selves to others. Collective virtuosity is an emergent phenomenon – it requires an act of allowing individual egos to die in service to the collective. I call this process “Forming a We Presence.” When the individual ego dissolves, the whole self joins other whole selves to form the collective. By integrating the dismembered parts of ourselves, we enable our whole selves to dance together with virtuosity.

Stay tuned for a future post on Forming a We Presence.

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  • Language Yoga

    Offering encouragement on the shadow work journey and I look forward to the We Presence post. Many thanks – Aaron

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