Shadow sides of our lives are terribly important to acknowledge, understand and manage. I would suggest that there are three kinds of shadow sides to be aware of.

First, there is the shadow side that is the flip side of our strengths. Every strength has a shadow side. The "harmony" strength is a wonderful example. Those with Harmony (Strengthfinders) like there to be understanding and peaceful relationships. A potential shadow side,  however would be that those with harmony might be tempted to avoid dealing with conflict. Just because I don't like to deal with conflict does not mean that that I should avoid it. Those with harmony often must "manage" their tendency to run from conflict management. Every strength has a shadow side and it is worth thinking through one's own strengths and the potential downside that needs to be managed.

Second, there is the shadow side of our families of origin or early experiences of life. Our early experiences and upbringing in life can be both positive and negative. If I received conditional love and acceptance as a child I may well do the same with others, or assume that God does the same with me (He does not). If I lived with a parent who said I would not amount to anything I might spend the rest of my life trying to prove them wrong even when they are long gone. Understanding and coming to grips with the shadow side of our families of origin allows us to respond to the dysfunctional pieces and manage them when they pop up their ugly heads on our thinking or relationships.

Third, there is the shadow side of our own sinful nature. Those besetting sins, or our personal vulnerabilities that we are aware of. Being aware of our sinful tendencies allows us to intentionally ask the Holy Spirit for help and victory over those areas. Sin cannot be managed but needs to be forgiven and we need to learn to live in grace. We can, however, develop strategies for dealing with our temptations and vulnerabilities starting with an awareness of when we are most vulnerable. Understanding our sinful tendencies, living in God's daily grace and forgiveness, asking the Holy Spirit to make us sensitive to our relationship with Jesus and being deeply aware of situations where we are most vulnerable can all help us grow in grace and lesson our sinful tendencies.

Shadow sides are a fact of our human existence. Growth in how we deal with them is one of the key issues in our own maturity.

All of T.J. Addington's books are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 discount on orders of ten or more.

  • Dec 06, 2014
  • Category: News
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