rachemacle

The veil being lifted/ Cultural shadow

First on a personal note... I started my new job at a local emergency shelter! I am so excited to finally be starting on my career, since it has been a year since I graduated with my Social Service Worker diploma. It's strange, though- when I am interacting with the program participants, i sometimes feel like I have forgotten everything I learned at school. I have forgotten a lot of specifics, but for much of what I learned, it is more about actions and practices that I have been integrating into my life, so I "know" it at a heart level rather than a conscious thought level (not that there is no thinking involved!)
As my instructors always say... I am the tool of my trade. It is my person, my characteristics, my hard and soft skills, including how I just generally interact with people.

Now to current events- So much on my mind. There is more going on each moment than what I can conceive. A true historical tipping point. Change happens slow and then all at once.
Current issues of true relevance to me right now: Black lives matter/ Push toward Antiracism, Defunding the police/ Rethinking public safety, Public health/ focus on prevention rather than treatment/ social determinants of health, "Housing first" approach to issues of homelessness, harm reduction, massive redistribution of wealth, end the war on drugs, environmental protection/ ending rampant consumerism, etc etc etc! And these issues keep coming up more and more, as if the world is finally waking up and realizing that all of these things are connected, and that we are all connected to each other.

I have been doing a lot of work on looking at my "shadow" in the past couple of months. We as individuals have shadow parts of ourselves, and I think of the shadow as all the parts of myself/ my psyche that I am not aware of. Not necessarily good or bad. I will always have a shadow, but I can change how I think about my shadow, for example rather than some big dark scary bad part of myself I might see my shadow as my inner child in need of love. Denying your shadow will not make it disappear, in fact it may have the opposite effect as shadow will come out in other ways. I will never know my whole shadow, but maybe I can shed some light on parts of her, and at least let her know that she is welcome here as a part of who I am.
Shadow work is important for my as a person because I tend toward self-reflection as a way to learn and grow, but it is also imperative for my new career in social work. We need to be able to check in with ourselves and notice, ask ourselves why we felt or acted certain way.

One way I can look at what is happening in the world right now, is shining light onto our cultural shadow. People everywhere are re-assessing their values and priorities. Our cultures deep and racist roots, our classist/ableist/sexist roots, all our deepest and darkest roots are getting dug up. And just like when I confront my personal shadow, there are different ways I could deal with it.
I could deny I have a shadow. I know everything about myself. I always have 100% control of my emotions or actions. I am preserving the way things are, because I know everything already and that's that. OR...
I could take a look at what feelings are there. I will ask gentle questions of myself about past trauma or other stirred up emotion. I will be curious and I will wonder. I will be willing to change my opinion about myself, I will be willing to grow and to learn about myself.

From a cultural standpoint we are asking these questions: Police brutality, is this what public safety looks like? Mass poverty, mass incarceration, disproportionately Black and Indigenous peoples: Is this the society we want to uphold together? Long term care homes (where in Ontario have represented 80% of COVID-related deaths), do we really want to send our loved-ones to FOR-PROFIT, poorly run homes with little public oversight?
And so on.... and it is exciting (and scary) to see the awareness growing......
But it is late and I am tired! So good night!

xo Rachel


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