A call for shadow work.
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Phil Connors found himself in quite the conundrum. He was trapped in a loop, experiencing the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.
Every morning he woke up, it was the day before. He experienced this over and over and over again, hundreds and thousands of times—and everything about the day was exactly the same, except for one thing.
Phil was given the gift to see how his thoughts, words, and actions impacted the outcome of his day, for better or for worse. Some days he chose to respond with frustration; other days he chose to respond with fascination.
We can’t control what happens around us, but what Phil Connors discovered is that what we can control is what happens within us—how we respond to the world around us.
This is of course just a fictional story, from the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. . But like any good art, it can offer insight for our everyday lives, if we allow it.
A widely cited study of twins discovered that a full 50% of our experience of happiness (or unhappiness) is out of our control—a genetic set-point that we have no control over. Another 10% is decided by our circumstances—where we live, where we work, the people we interact with, and so forth. And the remaining 40% of our lives is decided by our choices—by how we respond to the world around us.
Phil’s story is just a work of fiction, but it does point to the truth—and I believe it’s no coincidence Hollywood chose Groundhog Day, of all days, to be repeated over and over and over again.
According to the legend, when the groundhog sees its shadow, it runs away from it.
And isn’t that the way they say it goes.
When we turn away from the light and see our shadow—the very part of ourselves that we’re not yet ready to face—we run away from it.
With both humor and drama, Bill Murray’s character demonstrates that when we choose to face our shadow, rather than run away from it, we become empowered to enter into a new season of life—a spring of rebirth and of growth.
The Current of Change
We don’t have the same luxury that fictional characters have. Though we may at times experience days and weeks (and maybe even months and years) that appear awfully similar to the last, no two moments are exactly the same.
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus reminds us, you cannot step into the same river twice—for it is not the same river and you are not the same person. In every moment we are in a constant current of change.
After all, the word “current” refers both to that which flows as well as the present moment—what is currently happening.
In every moment, we are in a constant current of change, and while we cannot control this current—whether it’s a global pandemic, a change in leadership, or conflicts both personal and universal—what we can control is what happens within us—in how we choose to respond to the events around us.
We can choose to run away from the light like the groundhog, or we can choose to face the light like Phil Connors, welcoming a new season of growth with clarity, confidence, and courage.
What do you do when you see your shadow? Do you react like the groundhog or respond like Phil?
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination, helping individuals, teams, and communities Grow with the Flow to experience abiding joy. Connect with Jonas today to discuss your challenges, goals, and obstacles: email@example.com
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination on a mission to help you experience abiding joy.