Shadow no more Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Friday, 20 February 2015 00:47
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Are you working in a shadow trade? Feeling that you’re almost in the line of work you’re supposed to be in? Fooling yourself that the parallel life you’re leading keeps you close to living your dream?

Okay, say you want to write books, so you end up working in a bookshop, meeting authors, more or less thinking you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Nick Williams tells how he was arranging seminars for authors and speakers, feeling that he was in the industry he was supposed to be in. But what he actually wanted to do was to write and speak himself – not to arrange workshops and seminars where other writers speak.

Things changed once Nick realised that what he was doing was hanging around in the shadows. Over the past two decades, Nick has travelled the world as a sought-after international speaker, author and broadcaster, who is on a mission to help people move beyond their fears, and play a bigger part in their lives.

The term ‘shadow artist’ was coined by Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artist’s Way’. She explains that these people are artists themselves, but ignorant of their true identity. They don’t pursue their own creative dreams, but either help others achieve theirs, hang around declared artists or pursue careers which are more or less in the same field.

Editors who want to be authors; art teachers who want to be artists; backstage hands who want to be actors; these are all valuable functions in their own right, but not when used as a substitute by people who are gravitating towards their rightful tribe but cannot yet claim their birthright.

The shadow artist might be the person who does all the work at the office, or someone who dates or marries a person who is pursuing the desired art form. Very often people who are extremely gifted will put themselves in the proximity of other people who are ‘officially’ more gifted.

Julia says that anybody who has an ‘officially’ creative sibling will know what she means. She was one of seven children and in a situation many people may find familiar, which is that when one child is pretty good at the piano, then the piano is already taken when the second child comes along.

There is a lot of conditioning to be undone as we start moving towards dreams that we have been ignoring, distancing, grimly admitting, but beating ourselves up about, Julia says.

It takes nurturing to make an artist. Chances are that those in the shadows did not get enough nurturing. They are filled with a sense of unfulfilled promise, and blame themselves for not taking themselves seriously, for not acting fearlessly.

You may know exactly what needs to change in your life, but if you’re too scared to act on your inner guidance, you’re going to keep wanting to dance, to make music, to paint, to write, to sing and you’re going to hate yourself for not doing it. Fear limits your capacity to fully step into your purpose.

When your struggle seems hopeless, and you find it hard to believe in yourself, it can be reassuring to turn to the people in your life who believe in you. Their belief can give you the much-needed hand to cling to, until you can find your own footing.

Having such a person is a wonderful gift, but if you’re lurking in the shadows, chances are you’re there because you’ve never had someone to bolster you in the first place.

Then all you can do is what ‘A course in miracles’ calls taking “a journey without distance to a place we never left” – to the ‘I’ we are all seeking.

Nick Williams says that this ‘I’ will teach you that, as a shadow artist, your fear is based on seeking approval outside of yourself. It is when you’re very attached to whether you’re liked or not. The secret is to change your mindset to: I don’t know whether it’s going to be well received or not, but you know what – this is my gift and I’m giving it.

In ‘A course of miracles’ it is said: “Your job is to give your gifts, not to be attached to how they are received”.

So, girlfriend, just show up. Just show up in all your vulnerability. As Anaïs Nin said: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”


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