“a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.”
We’re often drawn towards temptation. It’s one of those things that’s all around us waiting for the opportunity for us, in a moment of weakness, to escape ourselves and our relationships. There are enough people on this earth for all of us to ACT on temptation at any moment of every day. Temptation wants to capitalize on the voids we have in our romantic relationships as well as the voids we have in ourselves.
There are two major parts that lead to us acting on our temptations: the void and the shadow.
The void is any and all missing pieces within our relationships. It’s the non communicated, unmet needs, it’s the unspoken conversations, it’s the lack of intimacy and desire, and the unwillingness to be vulnerable enough to lean into the space of relational connection and healing. This is the more spoken about form of temptation. I imagine that almost all of you have either felt a form of this yourselves or have heard a family member or friend talk about what’s missing in their relationships.
Our shadow part, the less spoken about and acknowledged part, is all the things which we repress or suppress. It can be our desires, our insecurities (things we don’t want to acknowledge), unhealed wounds, or any part of ourselves that we’re trying to avoid. Yes, of course it’s okay to act on our desires in a healthy and conscious way, but when temptation is met with our shadow part that’s where I see so many people sabotaging their relationships.
Because that’s when people start acting and behaving from an non conscious space. When you don’t know what it is you want or need in a relationship, or when you don’t even realize that you don’t feel deserving or worthy of the love you have, your shadow part (see definition above) can take over and run the show for you. That’s why you or friends of yours have probably said “I don’t know why I did that,” “I don’t understand why I said that” or “I just couldn’t help myself.” It’s not necessarily because someone can’t take ownership or responsibility, it may just be because a person hasn’t fully recognized, identified, and owned what it is they’ve worked so hard at avoiding.
I’ve seen many people’s shadow part sabotage their relationships. Through therapy, people start to acknowledge and identify that they often don’t feel deserving or worthy of love or their partner. Even though they report that their relationship isn’t really missing anything, they start to see that what the dynamic is missing is their own confidence and acceptance of themselves as worthy and deserving of what they have. What some of my clients have found is that their shadow part, this part that stores their unacknowledged insecurities, can take over and sabotage their relationships so that it ends and supports the story that they hold of themselves: “I’m not enough; I’m just a screw up.”
So how do we find our shadow?
By being aware of what it is we react to. Reactivity is the fastest way to identify what’s hidden in our shadow. But if you want to dive into this, you’re probably best suited to do this work with a professional who’s able to navigate the complexities of this work.
That said, some of the things you can start to put in place are the following:
Are there any voids in my relationship? (Past/Current) Think emotional, mental, or sexual as a start point.
If there are voids, what keeps you from sharing them with your partner?
If you’ve shared them before, but have been met with some form of rejection, what types of temptation do you find yourself looking for? Is it emotional connection elsewhere? Is it sex? Is it escapism? Dive into this space and see where it is you go.
What makes you most reactive? Think about when you shut down, get defensive, or go on the attack.
Do you feel worthy and deserving of the relationship that you’re in/the relationship that you want?
If not, why not?
Bringing our insecurities and doubts forward helps bring the shadow into the light, helps bring the unconscious into the conscious, and creates a space for connection and intimacy with our partners. Whether our relationships are missing something, or it’s us who is missing the confidence or worthiness in ourselves, we’re going to find ourselves face to face with temptation and not know how to manage it in a healthy way.
Remember, when you choose intimacy you reject temptation. Take this week to think about what it might look like to share some of this with your partner or one of your closest friends. Try to get more comfortable with bringing forward what it is you tend to avoid.