The Shadow Side of SPICE
August's feature article, "Sensitive Souls Have the SPICE of Life," included a note about the "shadow sides" of certain qualities that go along with being highly sensitive. This includes, for example, our imagination, which can run away from us into worst-case-scenario thinking or worrying. I also wrote: "The antidote is to follow your inner guidance and develop your gifts, bringing them into the light where they belong, and remembering to redirect your energy when the shadow sides of these traits start to take over."
One reader wrote in to say, "How true! Any tips on keeping out of trouble and how to do this?"
So let's review, briefly.
SPICE stands for spiritual, perceptive, intuitive, creative, and empathic. The shadow sides of these traits might include:
- Spiritual: This might look like impatience, dissatisfaction with the mundane or ordinary, a constant search for meaning, or not being grounded in reality or the physical.
- Perceptive: This includes a propensity for overstimulation, over-thinking, and being unable to consciously filter information received.
- Intuitive: When we haven't developed our intuition, it may turn up as fear, superstition, and self-doubt.
- Creative: Our creative energy run amok may lead to worrying and worse-case-scenario thinking.
- Empathic: This includes losing our boundaries or our sense of self, becoming caught up in other people's lives, and taking on too much responsibility for others.
Here are a few tips:
1. Pay attention. Notice your experience. What's happening? Can you see which of your qualities is drifting into overdrive? Whatever you do, don't try to repress or ignore your experience -- that usually makes it worse. Just observe. Is this serving you in some way? Is there something you need right now that you are trying to create for yourself?
2. Be conscious. Remind yourself to use your gifts wisely. For example, if you allow yourself to indulge your creativity in worrying, you may have less energy for creative projects.
3. Take action. Make a conscious choice to cease the shadow behavior and bring your attention to a new effort. Or, make an effort to fulfill the need that is expressing itself, which may be a need to develop these qualities.
4. Develop your gifts. As you work with your sensitivity, rather than against it, the shadow side will be less likely to take over. In other words, make sure you are engaging and experiencing your spirituality, your perceptivity, your intuition, your creativity, and your empathy in a positive and productive way. For example, take an intuitive development class, get out your sketchbook, choose how you want to focus your attention, or concentrate on strengthening your personal boundaries.