This post was updated on January 16, 2017
Are you suffering and yet seemingly powerless to change your circumstances? Do your problems return to you again and again? Does misfortune seem to haunt you? Are you chronically ill, impoverished, or the victim of circumstances or malicious intent? These situations illustrate the shadows of karma, the consequences of thoughts and deeds done in the past, even in past lifetimes, that return to influence our lives and challenge us in so many ways.
Each of us carries within our energy field, within our cellular memory, our DNA, one or more of the many karmic shadows. These shadows comprise impressions written in the histories of our lives and the histories of our families. They are our karma. They comprise major challenges that we face in our lives. We suffer their effects until we clear their energy and gain a higher level of awareness.
Karmic shadows write the story of our life and set the stage of circumstances upon which our life plays out, including the antagonists and the challenges we face. They define our character and specify our handicaps and our limitations. They light the set and play the score, creating moods that give our lives a certain tone or underlying feeling, such as melancholy, dread, uneasiness or hostility. They define our character and our circumstances, place us on the stage and compel us to play our part until, at the climax, we either master the lesson they seek to teach, or we succumb.
Shadows often pass through many generations and many lifetimes. They may show up as certain types of challenge, e.g., failed relationships or financial troubles. Sometimes, their effects last for only a period in our lives. Sometimes, they occur again and again within a lifetime. Sometimes they last an entire lifetime.
Subconsciously or even consciously, our karmic shadows exert powerful influences on our lives, limiting our perceptions and our choices. The limiting energy of these shadows causes a lack of WellBEING. They make us feel powerless, vulnerable, confused, uncertain and isolated. These shadows produce failure, pain, bitterness and sometimes the desire for revenge. They can even produce chronic mental or physical illness.
The pain of our suffering results in persistent behavioral changes (a stress reaction, often with PTSD behaviors) and hence constitutes a lasting shadow on our happiness. It makes us complain, cry and sulk. The pain of chronic suffering can produce innumerable physical symptoms, so-called functional disorders such as digestive or sleep disturbances, as well as all manner of physical diseases.
Bitterness and the desire for revenge can result in aggressive behavior. We may become very egotistical and obsessed with demonstrating our superiority, or we may belittle, abuse or assault others. Though some people may act flamboyantly and appear genuinely interested in others, they still have difficulty connecting with and loving others, and thus they remain isolated and bitter.
Powerlessness, vulnerability, confusion, uncertainty and isolation cause us to contract, cower and hide, to slink through life, avoiding connection with others, unable to love and usually unable to accept love, though we desperately need love.
The Karmic Shadows:
Traditionally, a list of karmic shadows comprises the first seven described below. I have added many more shadows to the traditional list by drawing on the Hexagrams of the I Ching and on Caroline Myss’s work with archetypes. The list keeps expanding, making it a more complete but by all means not an all-inclusive presentation. Let’s examine each shadow, one by one.
Abandonment — neglect or loss through death or separation. Perhaps the most common shadow, feelings of abandonment arise either when one feels that they aren’t getting the attention they need from parents and other family members, from teachers and mentors, from supervisors in a work environment, or, more obviously, when a loved one departs from our life. Chronic feelings of abandonment result in pervasive feelings of isolation, insecurity and unworthiness. One loses the capacity to trust people, authorities and God, making intimacy impossible. One perceives life as a struggle against forces stacked against oneself, a struggle one must face alone.
Abuse — ongoing physical, mental and/or sexual aggression producing emotional trauma. Abuse can occur within the family or community, in schools, in military service and in places of employment. Abuse causes one to believe that the world is a dangerous place. This results in chronic anxiety, suspiciousness and distrust. One may seek relationships with people who become abusive. This seems paradoxical until one realizes that abuse within the family causes one to associate that behavior with being loved. People in this situation often defend the perpetrators and blame themselves for the abuse they experience, believing that they deserve it.
Note: I put sexual abuse in this category and rape in the category of violence because sexual abuse is often seductive (manipulative) and in a perverted sense, consensual, while not necessarily physically harmful. I put rape with violence because it implies physical and, usually, painful assault without consent and despite rejection and resistance.
Betrayal — harm inflicted intentionally by a trusted individual resulting in intense pain, bitterness and lack of trust. Whether from this lifetime or a past life, betrayal leaves an intense energetic impression that can manifest as a mental problem such as trait anxiety or paranoia, or as a physical problem such as back pain or fibromyalgia. I have seen it manifest as an autoimmune disorder, though such disorders, for example, inflammatory bowel diseases, are more commonly due of self-loathing.
Violence — assault or rape directed at us personally or from living in an environment of gang or ethnic violence, riot or war resulting in stress and/or physical harm. The experience of violence towards oneself results in a sense of violation of one’s integrity. This can lead to a profound sense of vulnerability and intense distrust of others, making it very difficult to enjoy and grow in relationships. Violence in our environment results in stress and post-traumatic stress behaviors such as nightmares, emotional instability and drug abuse.
Poverty — lack of money, food, shelter, community, knowledge/information and opportunity. Living in poverty is itself a shadow because it produces chronic frustration, a sense of impotence resulting from one’s inability to improve one’s living situation, and hopelessness. One likely feels that the deck is stacked against them and there is nothing one can do to change the situation. Chronic poverty is a “risk factor” for crime, violent behavior, drug abuse and poor school and job performance.
Illness — chronic, debilitating or acute, severely painful or life-threatening physical or mental illness. Simply being ill takes a toll on anyone. Being ill brings pain and keeps one from doing the things one expects or desires to do. Illness represents the paying of a karmic debt or it can be a life challenge to stimulate growth as a person. Being seriously or chronically ill makes us question who we are, why we are here, what we want in life, what we value in life, and what we might become. In this sense, illness may provide an opportunity to learn and grow.
Addiction — drugs, gambling, food, sex, money. Addiction arises from attachment and may represent a form of self-medication. Addictive behaviors bring gratification but limit our freedom and ability to handle challenging situations appropriately. Addictions block progress in life. Even the addiction to making a lot of money, though it can provide material gratification, interferes with our living a full life because it grips our attention (consuming enormous amounts of time and energy) and reduces our capacity to relate honestly with others because we are always “on the take.”
Self-loathing — hating oneself because one believes that one is responsible for something terrible that has happened, feels ashamed about something done or not done, or believes that one is worthless and unworthy. Guilt, shame and lack of self-esteem usually result from the judgments of others. Expressions uttered repeatedly by parents, teachers and others in authority roles, such as “You’re killing me,” “How could you do that?” and “You’re such a loser,” destroy self-confidence and leave one heating oneself. Self-loathing may result in hurting oneself, addictions, avoidance of relationships, inability to relate to others, or avoidance of risks, even small ones.
Lack or Loss of Social Status — the feeling of being out of place or disgraced from having been cast out of one’s position. The feelings that “I’m nobody” or that “I’m inferior” can weigh heavily on a soul. The pain resulting from loss of social status and of being looked down upon that result from having been publicly disgraced, fired from a job, divorced or otherwise rejected or discredited may feel like a knife in the heart. Discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity and social status, particularly when this discrimination spans generations, weakens the development of one’s sense of self-worth. Discrimination may make one believe that one is actually inferior. I include homelessness and slavery in this category because they involve a lack of social status and personal empowerment. People sometimes commit suicide or resort to drug use when suffering from a loss of social status or are discriminated against. I’ve heard it said that the only thing Donald Trump fears is loss of face. I also know of at least one suicide resulting from public humiliation. Such is the power of this shadow.
Disability: Mental Retardation, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Physical Disability — lacking the mental or physical ability to keep up with the rest of us. Retarded, autistic or disabled persons struggle to live in the modern world with all its complexities. They must often depend on others for support and care, which they may find demeaning and painful, if the caregivers are judgmental, impatient or abusive. Retarded, autistic or disabled persons may feel trapped in unhappy circumstances from which there is no escape except death.
Gender Confusion or Incongruence — confusion, isolation or social rejection resulting from discovering or living with one’s homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender identity. Sexual identity comprises a core aspect of our identity as a person. When sexual identity doesn’t conform to the commonly accepted male–female distinction, conflict within oneself and with others is nearly inevitable. When awareness of sexual identity issues dawn during adolescence, it increases the challenge of discovering one’s whole identity. Even when one gains comfort with one’s identity and acceptance from one’s community, there may still be stresses (such as which restroom to use) and uncertainty about how to play the nonconventional sexual role.
Curses — bolts of energy hurled by others. Just to clarify, I mean curses, not cursing, which is negative energy but of little consequence. A curse, on the other hand, can harm us or cripple us, even if the curse was put on us in a previous lifetime or by a person possessing little psychic power. If we absorb deeply the intent of the curse, it will affect us even if we don’t consciously believe in curses. Curses are bolts of energy sent to us personally or to us as members of a group. The energy persists until the purpose of the curse is fulfilled, or the energy that produced it is transformed. However, in the former case, some residual suffering may continue until we acknowledge the shadow and accept our karmic debt. Curses are more common than most people realize.
Hauntings, Psychic Influencing and Possessions — when ghosts, spirits and other entities affect us. Haunting refers to the presence of some spirit, which may or may not be benign. We can be haunted by people we have known, by people who once occupied the building or position we now occupy, or by our and another’s karmic fate. Someone we deeply love who has died may persist in our environment for a long time if either or both souls hold on to the relationship. This generally holds back both souls’ evolution, and therefore, in the big picture of existence, is detrimental. People sometimes invite a psychic influence due to weakness of their spirit and their desperate need for a meaningful connection with someone. The relationship may become addictive and may look like a possession in that the spirit of the other moves into one’s field and exerts an influence, at least temporarily. Possession by an entity means that entity directly influences our life for its own selfish benefit, which generally is to our detriment. Typically, we have little control over the other’s influence and need capable help to remove that influence. Hauntings are fairly common, whereas possessions are rather rare. Though removal of entities can be accomplished by ceremonies (exorcisms), entities usually can be dealt with simply with energy work.
Shadows that present as personality types:
Dependency — always the child seeking approval or expecting others to meet one’s needs. Playing the role of a child when one has reached adulthood keeps one dependent and subservient. This can result in one living with one’s parents well into adulthood. It can also result in one being subservient to a marital partner or significant other, or to an exploitive and abusive employer or supposed friend.
Victimhood / Martyrdom / Masochism — being used and hurt by others over and over. A victim repeatedly finds themselves exploited or in abusive relationships. The victim may blame themselves for others’ domineering behavior, and keep themselves in painful or even dangerous relationships. A martyr believes they suffer for the wellbeing of others, hoping that their generosity will win them respect, adoration and love. A masochist equates pain with love. A masochist seeks more suffering in the mistaken belief that this means he/she is loved more.
One’s own worst enemy — there’s a saboteur within undermining or destroying every opportunity for happiness and wellbeing. Some people just undo every good thing that comes their way. Relationships and jobs are the two most important areas in which the saboteur shows up. The saboteur makes us say and do hurtful things to others. The saboteur may question or test relationships, often with infidelity, which ultimately undermines those relationships. The saboteur makes a person a poor employee by causing them to be tardy, erratic, mouthy (rude) or a thief. Being one’s own worst enemy is a really dark shadow.
Oh, the things we do for love and money — compromising our values and prostituting our bodies and our souls to get a little love or cash. Some people will do anything in the hope of getting love or money. Whenever we compromise our values and do something we hope will earn us good favor or cash from someone else, we put a blot on our souls. There is an element of dependency and/or victimhood in this. I have seen some very ugly situations perpetuated by pimps, drug dealers and salespersons (usually men) on those willing to sacrifice their integrity, but these people are just playing to the prostitute that exists in some measure within each of us.
The Egotist / Narcissist / Authoritarian / Bully — thinks only in terms of him/herself and is willing to force others to meet his/her needs. An egotist acts like a king or queen, demanding that others cater to their desires and treating others as inferior to themself. We usually describe egotists as self-centered and attention-seeking. The narcissist holds themselves in high regard and seeks the attention of others who will praise them. The authoritarian acts like a dictator, making rules others must obey and punishing those who disobey or oppose their rule. The bully acts aggressively towards others. The bully attacks those perceived as weaker to show off their superior strength. A bully rarely challenges someone perceived as having equal or superior power.
The Dreamer — chases rainbows and pursues foolish dreams. The dreamer exists in a state of perpetual youthful ignorance, never learning from experience or growing up to accept responsibility. The dreams of the dreamer appear foolish to others because the dreamer lacks the capacity to fulfill the dreams. Of course, everyone has dreams. Ordinary people live productive lives and fulfill some of their dreams. The difference is that the dreamer remains absorbed in their dreaming, lives marginally and doesn’t effectively organize the means to fulfill their dreams.
The Fool — seemingly blind, lost, naïve, lacking common sense. Lacking wisdom, the fool cannot successfully navigate life. The fool often gets into difficulties that may require some benevolent person to help them get out of.
The Alien — in conflict with or at odds with parents, authority figures and “the world.” The alien whimpers and complains to express his/her discontent, but doesn’t take substantive action. Feeling alienated, the person may “act out” their frustration and loneliness through aggressive acts (violence, fighting), in drug use and in criminal activities.
The Radical, The Rebel, The Revolutionary — always fighting for a cause or against the establishment. The radical is alienated but actively engages perceived enemies. Feeling disquieted, restless, unsettled and often frustrated, irritable and angry, the radical finds motivation in his/her discontent. This motivation may overshadow any noble commitment to a cause and bring them into conflict with other crusaders more dedicated to the ideals of the cause.
The Drifter — a loner, a stranger who wanders from place to place. The drifter doesn’t try to fit in or to conform in any way. The drifter forms no attachments, nor has any goals. Life is just a series of events and adventures, of encounters that hold no special meaning. Thinking of the syllogism, “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” the drifter sees him/herself as avoiding being held back by attachment to things of transient value, while others see the drifter as gaining no depth in relationships or social status.
The Soldier — always a member of a group or a worker for a cause. The soldier lacks individual identity and takes on the identity of the group with whom he/she associates. The faceless storm troopers of the Star Wars movies illustrate the lack of identity of the soldier shadow. The soldier finds value through the value or merit of the group.
The Small and Meek — overwhelmed by complexity, confused by dichotomy and frightened by polarity. The small and meek avoid standing out or drawing attention to themselves. They prefer to work alone, doing tasks that they can complete easily, tasks that require no imagination or creativity. They find safety in a very simplified and often sheltered life.
The Coward — unable to assert oneself to get one’s needs met. The coward doesn’t speak up or take risks to get his/her needs met. The coward doesn’t protest when ignored, maltreated or abused, but suffers injustice, often blaming him/herself for things others do to him/herself. The coward shuns drawing attention to him/herself. They might participate in, for example, a choir, but never sing a solo. They fear attention because drawing attention to oneself invites criticism, which they cannot handle.
The Vampire — sucks whatever it can get from others. Vampires may appear small and meek, even cowardly, but they manipulate others to get love, attention, assistance, indeed, almost anything — food, a place to live, money and stuff. Vampires often play on the compassion and generosity of others, even to trying to elicit guilt to get people to meet their insatiable needs.
The Peacemaker and Mediator — frightened by conflict and compelled to keep the peace in one’s family, and between friends and coworkers. The peacemaker always seeks to keep a lid on tensions, to keep conflicts from blowing up into overt fights. The peacemaker makes light of differences and doesn’t assert positions on issues, thus compromising his/her integrity in a manner like the prostitute.
The Sociopath — compelled to hurt others. Ethically corrupted, lacking a conscience (acts without regard to effects on others), predatory and sadistic, the sociopath finds gratification in hurting others. Lying and stealing come easily to a sociopath. The sociopath feels compelled to humiliate, cheat or hurt others. The sociopath often acts for immediate gratification without regard to future consequences. Salespeople and politicians generally display “mild to moderate” sociopathic tendencies by “overselling” or exaggerating the quality and value of what they are selling. For some, however, the need to “get over on” (cheat or take advantage of) others knows no boundaries. These full-blown sociopaths will cause as much pain as they can while stealing as much as they can.
The Narrow-Minded — focuses single-mindedly on specific values and goals. The narrow-minded person has “tunnel-vision” and is unable to see the big picture, rendering this person unable to navigate complex situations. The narrow-minded person is inflexible and unwavering. Things have to be “just so.” Variance isn’t tolerated and alternative approaches are eschewed, which compromises the narrow-minded person’s ability to effectively manage his/her life or work collaboratively with others. Such narrow-minded focus appears in obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Obstructed, Nothing Is Easy — blocked, impeded, restrained, obstructed, challenged and thwarted in everything one tries to do. Obstructed people find themselves thwarted in every undertaking through no fault of their own. Though they try hard, they either don’t fully succeed or utterly fail. Fate seems set against them. They always struggle.
Drama, Crisis and Chaos — perpetually or repeatedly in turmoil or facing upheavals. The chaotic person’s life is always in crisis and never at peace. There’s drama almost every day. Though they may appear charming, the all-pervading drama eventually drives away all who care a chaotic person. A chaotic person tends to get absorbed in their story of struggling and suffering. They act as though they need to tell everyone their story, in some cases by frequently posting long comments about their trials on social media. The drama creates a perpetual state of exhaustion, leaving one depleted, frustrated and, sometimes, depressed. These consequences get incorporated into their story, resulting in appeals for sympathy and support.
How to transform shadows and gain WellBEING:
Shadow energy must be dealt with strictly in the present, that is, we deal with what is here now, even if the shadow arose in a past life. Healing the wounds that created these shadows and the suffering caused by these shadows can be accomplished easily, quickly and painlessly using the tools that I have available — Ho’oponopono, Matrix Energetics®, Inner Relationship Focusing and FasterEFT®. The transformation of shadow energy occurs rapidly no matter how complex one’s family history may be and regardless of how painful one’s experience has been. These tools do not require that one relive painful, traumatic experiences.
Because shadows grip one’s awareness so tightly, they are difficult to transform through talking about them. However, they are accessible on the level of our energy field, where one can work with them directly, sparing one the pain of considering in one’s conscious mind the suffering caused by the shadows or the history that produced them.
Shadows can appear within a person’s energy field in many forms. I often find them as tangles — twisted and knotted threads of energy located within the chakra system or elsewhere in one’s field. Sometimes they appear as hurt children. No matter how they present, we approach them — at the level of energy, not speech — with compassion and acceptance. We acknowledge their suffering. We never criticize them for showing up or for the misery they have brought us. We never tell them that they must change or depart. These shadows, these tangles of energy, transform spontaneously when they feel that they have been heard and accepted.
The transformation of energy on the subtle level of the field brings a tangible feeling of relief in the physical body. People may sigh, stretch or even shake a little. Facial expression changes as muscles relax. Posture may improve. People often look years younger. Later, they find they have more energy, enthusiasm and optimism. Over time, the transformed energy becomes available in specific ways, manifesting as increased creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving ability, openness to connection with others and even joy.
If, from reading this blog, you discover that your life is shadowed in any way, please click here to reach a page where you can send me a message to ask a question or request a consultation. A free fifteen minute “get acquainted” consultation is available to new clients. You can also benefit from participating in our monthly webinar, which includes a presentation and a Group Clearing® session. For more information on my work, please see my website and also download and read my eBook.