17 July 2014

Shadow Work: Expectations

In shadow work psychology and magick mix in fascinating ways.  One of the most interesting phenomena I've observed in shadow work, and in a lot of other types of magick really, is the power of expectations.  This can be our own expectations of people or events or the expectations of others that are projected on to us.

Expectations really are magickal when you think about it.  Magick is a deliberate attempt to use our energies to shape reality.  We focus on a particular goal, visualize the changes to reality we want to make in order to achieve it, and then project that energy out into the world to manifest itself.  In essence, we're creating an expectation of what the results of our magick will be and letting ourselves embrace and believe in that expectation. The more sure we are that reality will me our expectations, the more energy those expectations contain, the more magickal those expectations become giving them an ability to actually make it more likely for reality to conform to them.

This is all well and good when our expectations are positive; less good when they're negative.  Oh yes, negative expectations can be a self-fulfilling prophecy on soooo many levels.  Our own negative expectations, when believed in strongly enough, are essentially self-hexing.  When you've trained yourself to focus your thoughts and will enough to perform magick it does tend to trickle down into unconscious thought.  As we all know, like attracts like, and our negative expectation of reality will shape that reality - self-hexing.  Of course, from a purely psychological point of view, negative expectations make us interpret our situations in a way that conforms to how we expect it to be.  Thus even if you haven't managed to hex yourself, you'll still see things as being worse than they probably are.  This is our shadow at work.

Shadow work is all about embracing our darker thoughts and feelings, but that does not mean we need to roll around in them all day; an hour or so a day sure, but not all day every day.  When you find yourself having negative expectations about yourself or a situation it's important to take a step back and really assess things.  Realistic expectations when a situation truly is overwhelmingly negative is healthy; overwhelmingly negative expectations when things really aren't so bad is harmful.  Take some time out to meditate and clear your head.  Take some time to do some divination if you need to (this is the kind of situation where getting someone else to do divination for you can be extremely helpful, that way your negative feelings won't affect the divination as badly).  If you need to, consider doing some spellwork to help clear your head of prejudices and let you see things as they really are.  I would never, ever, ask someone to put on a happy face and think positive - because it makes me want to vomit - but I do ask for realism rather than moping. 

This brings us to the expectations most difficult to deal with: the expectations others have of us.  As much as some of us might like to, we do not live in a vacuum.  We live in a world populated by other people and, unless you're a hermit, we have to deal with other people and their expectations of us on a daily basis.  People that truly know and understand us tend to expect us to be who and what we really are, unfortunately people that truly know and understand who we really are tend to be pretty thin on the ground.  Instead, we are surrounded by people that know only bits and pieces of us. 

This limited knowledge means that people generally expect us to be something different than our authentic selves.  As you might imagine this can create all manner of problems for us.  On a mundane level, having to wear masks and live up (or down) to other people's expectations can be emotionally exhausting.  It can be equally exhausting on a magickal level.  Our shields do a lot of work keeping outside energies from unduly influencing us - that's their job - this includes the energy of other people's expectations.  If you spend the majority of your day surrounded by people who expect you to be something you're not it's going to take a toll on your shields. 

For most people it isn't too bad - who they portray themselves to be to the outside world isn't usually too far off from who they really are.  Of course we shadow workers tend to be...well...what other people consider to be "weirdos."  This can cause trouble even if you're letting your freak flag fly.  If you're spending most of your time pretending to be someone you're not, the combination of cognitive dissonance and energetic drain is eventually going to bite you in the ass.  If you're open about your weirdness a lot of shortsighted people probably have really negative expectations of you based on their own fears and hangups - causing pretty much the same toll on your shields as hiding would have, but hey less cognitive dissonance is good.  In the long term the best situation is to be yourself and educate others so that they understand what that means.  However, that takes time, energy, and won't fix everybody.  In the mean time creating an anchored shield specifically for dealing with other people's projected expectations can help a lot.  This is pretty much the only shield that I would actually recommend anchoring in rose quartz as it is naturally good at soothing emotions and aiding healing. 

Expectations are powerful things and as magickal practitioners we need to be aware of how they affect us whether they be from within or without.  The next time you approach a negative situation or feel the need to follow someone else's expectations of you take a step back and examine the reality of things and what you really want to see happen.  Just being aware of the influence of expectations can help you take control of the situation make it better.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh! Of all the things I've shielded for and all the trouble and stress I get over other people's expectations, it has never occurred to me to create a shield specifically for that. THANK YOU!!! (Though I do feel the teensiest bit dumb about it now, but only the teensiest bit. lol)