Have you ever been in a position where you made a decision because you felt at the time that you had to, even though your mind was woolly and the world was unreal? I am sure you lived to not only regret that decision, but also to ask yourself “What had gotten into me when I decided that?”

And it is possible that at the time you were recently traumatised, for example being widowed, walking away from a very destructive relationship, being forced to leave a job, and so on.

Such experiences often uproot our entire existence, and turn our world upside down. While we are grasping at anything that may look like the old reality that we knew before, the world keeps turning and changing. We hold on for dear life, wishing the world would just for a moment stop turning so that we can get our footing back again.

However, the world keeps turning, and we have to make decisions about various things, from what to wear today to whether I should sell my house and move to the other side of the country.

Why is it that these decisions often turn out to be the worst we can imagine? It is probably because the decision is made by the shadow self that has taken control of the situation.

What is a shadow self? It is a far less mature self that we adopted earlier in our lives to deal with a situation that we could not cope with at the time. For example we refused to take responsibility for our actions and found somebody to blame, and at the time it worked. Remember when you were sixteen years old and stayed out too late on a date and had to face your father? Were you to blame? Of course not. It was either the boyfriend that did not want to leave on time, or the car that ran out of petrol.

Or we find that we have such strong emotions that we cannot deal with them. As a result we either stop functioning from the head down and refuse to have any emotions, or we do everything possible to distract the attention from ourselves and anything that is remotely personal. Remember when your adored parent suddenly died? You were frightened, scared, angry about being abandoned, lonely. You decided that nobody would see what a mess you are inside, and the emotional shutters went down.

Or we become doormats and accept the blame for everything, even when our logical minds say that we are not to blame. Remember when you first discovered that somebody you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol? Remember the argument where you were told “You drive me to it!” and you felt confused, hurt and wronged?

Later on we learned that all these shadow selves are temporary solutions and we discovered that in the long run it is far better to accept responsibility where appropriate. We learnt to deal with our emotions and get more perspective on situations. We develop ranges of responses and we get to choose the most appropriate response for a situation.

But when we get thrown into a traumatic situation, we instantly forget all those ranges of responses. We forget all the life experiences that helped us outgrow our shadow selves. We go right back to being the child that had that first experience, and we apply the same coping mechanism without even thinking. And it does not work, because you and the situation are both quite different.

Instead of having those sets of behaviour come to the rescue like the previous time, they make everything worse. And this is where you make a decision that is probably perfect for the old shadow self, but disastrous for the person you have since become.

You decide that the only way to deal with your trauma is to get rid of the environment that is to blame, and you move house to a familiar area of which you have good memories from a previous time. You wake up in a neighbourhood that has changed, among people that are quite different. You feel even lonelier than before and discover that everything you ran away from is still with you, ready to be faced when you are ready.

Or you decide to simply ignore all your emotions and get on with life. But things get worse because you develop health problems that can get quite serious. You also get into a relationship with a totally unsuitable person. It takes a while for you to realise that you have added to your problems, and then there is the task of getting out of the relationship

Or you outwardly accept blame for the entire mess and you do not tell anyone that you are so angry at some people. You lie awake at night, feeling guilty. You really feel like a victim when on top of everything you develop health problems. The easy way out is alcohol or medication, because they both dull the emotional pain – until you wake up the next day feeling rubbish, with even more guilt and anger.

Our shadow selves are very convenient when we initially use them. Later in life they are only convenient when we are able to recognise them and use them as a measure of our spiritual growth since we first needed them. The shadow selves also remind us of all the issues that we still need to deal with.

This is why traumatic situations should in fact be seen as blessings – they help us clear out the spiritual stuff that we no longer need, so that we can move on to the exciting stuff and into the Light.

Knowledge is power. When we identify our dominant shadow self (and we all have some of each in our arsenal) we are already in a strong position to confront the underlying limiting decisions and remove the barriers that we placed there for ourselves.

We can run, but we cannot hide – especially from ourselves.

Author's Bio: 

Elsabe Smit provides life transition counselling and psychic readings. Refer http://www.elsabesmit.com