Are you a Friend or a Foe under the Guise of a Friend? - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

Are you a Friend or a Foe under the Guise of a Friend?

As you probably already know by now, people can have all kinds of things that they, themselves are totally unconscious of.  In fact, our conscious mind may completely contradict our subconscious mind. For example, we may consciously think and say that we love helping people, but the deeper truth is that we hate it and we only do it so that we get appreciation and guaranteed alliance with people.  We may have suppressed our anger long ago and as a result, even though we are very angry, we don’t notice that we feel angry and think of ourselves instead as a super peaceful person. One of these unconscious patterns plays out in our friendships and partnerships, and if not seen and resolved, can ruin relationships entirely.

The pattern that is unconscious and that makes you (who consciously sees yourself as a friend and ally) actually a foe on a subconscious level, is the need to be the person who ‘reflects their shadow to them’.  In less spiritual circles, this is the need to be the one who can ‘call them on their shit’. This is a position where you can feel a lot of pride in your relationships. But the identification you have with being able to do this for someone does not come from a healthy place.  It is not the loving position that you tell yourself it is.             

People in the awareness community use the word “shadow” to mean two different things.  1. Something that a person is unaware of and is therefore unconscious of and 2. Something about them that is either bad, wrong or out of alignment.  If I had my way, we would stop using the word shadow for both things. A shadow is something that a person is unconscious of. When they become conscious of it, it is no longer a shadow.  Some of the things that we become aware of about ourselves, we and/or others judge to be bad and wrong. Any time we have this judgment, we need to question it. That being said, sometimes we can accurately feel the “offness” of certain patterns within ourselves or others.  Meaning that something a person is thinking, saying or doing, is not in alignment with their desires, wellbeing and perhaps the wellbeing of others. This pattern of being out of alignment in some way is often what people call someone’s “shadow”. I would rather this be called someone’s misalignment.  

What you have to consider is that there is a potential that you might be projecting that something is “off” about someone when it is you that is off.  It is quite common for us to perceive someone as misaligned any time something they are thinking, saying or doing is out of alignment with our desires for them.  And our desires for them are usually because of what we want for ourselves.  A better way of putting this is that we run the risk of thinking someone is out of alignment with their desires, wellbeing and the wellbeing of others when what they are out of alignment with is our overlay.  To understand this in depth, watch my video titled: Overlay, What Prevents You From Having a Real Relationship.

When it comes to this particular pattern we are talking about today, it is you that is misaligned.  It is obvious that if people are close to us, they may perceive things about us that we are not aware of.  They may see when we are misaligned. When a person in our life really loves us, the energy behind them making us aware of these things is an assist.  It feels pure because there is no subconscious strategy on their end.  But if there is a subconscious strategy behind this “reflection”, no matter how much the person thinks they are telling us what they are telling us for our own good, it will feel like they are taking something away from us, instead of adding to our wellbeing by assisting us.  

Taking pride in (or being identified with) being the one who reflects someone’s shadows to them (or who calls them on their shit) feels bad because it is a power play.  It has the energy inherent within it of “I challenge you and I oppose you” not “I assist you”. If you have this shadow, you distrust people at the core. You have slipped into the illusion of self vs. other.  You are not practicing love because you do not actually see other people as a part of yourself. Therefore, what you can’t see about yourself is that you call people on their shadows out of fear. It is all about your sense of wellbeing rather than it is about the wellbeing of the person you are trying to reflect something to.  

The reality is that if you have this shadow, you already see the person you are needing to ‘call on their shadows’ as the bad guy whether you admit to it or not.  You therefore distrust their capacity to see themselves and distrust their internal compass and distrust them with yourself and distrust them with others. And so, on a subconscious level, you try to use their vulnerability against them for the sake of your own safety.  When you are able to show them something that they don’t see about themselves or call them on their shit, it feels like a win for you. In that moment, you get to feel the boost of a sense of safety and self-confidence that comes with superiority. You have one-upped them.  

When this pattern becomes even unhealthier is when you try to endear yourself to someone with this pattern.  You see yourself as indispensable to them and try to convince them you are indispensable and they must defer to your judgment specifically because no one else is as good at seeing their shadow and therefore no one can really see them as clearly as you can.  This isolates them. Therefore their health and wellbeing depends on keeping you around to see the bad and wrong things about them that they cannot see about themselves.  The underlying message being conveyed is “I am the only one who sees the truth of you, it just so happens that truth isn’t good”. The reality is that you don’t actually see them.  You only think you do. You see only those things about them that might pose a threat to you in some way.

This subconscious pattern is much easier to see in people when they are around someone who is in a position of power.  If people perceive themselves to be powerless and being powerless to someone in the past has hurt them, they will be immediately triggered by people who they perceive to be more powerful than they are.  They tend to associate nothing good with power, only badness. This means all a person has to do to trigger this dynamic is to be a leader or an achiever or an authority or an expert or more wealthy or more beautiful or more famous or anything else which seems to give them the upper hand.  For the sake of their own safety, they either want to be the one who is always in the position of power with the upper hand, or for society to be completely egalitarian where hierarchy does not exist and everyone is equal at all times. In other words, they are either concerned with being the one in absolute power or they are in a crusade against power in general so no one ever has power over anyone else.

I can personally attest to this one.  People with this shadow LOVE to think of themselves as the ones who can see things about me that I can’t.  After all, my life purpose has put me in the position of authority and therefore power relative to awareness and seeing shadows.  So there is hardly a more superior position in the world than being the one who sees the shadows of the shadow seer and who is more aware than the awareness leader.           

People with this shadow often use two excuses to maintain this misalignment within themselves.  This first is “Not everyone can see their own shadows”. This is a truth that is being exploited to justify harmful behavior.  The second is “look at history”. History is full of plenty of examples of people (especially people in power) who became perpetrators because of what they did not see about themselves.  People with this shadow hate “yes people” and perceive these historical tyrants to have been surrounded by yes people. Yes people being people who never oppose the tyrant and therefore enable horrible things.  This hatred of yes people is simply their own unresolved hurt about someone in their life who enabled the person in power to hurt them in the past. Again, this is a truth that is being exploited to justify harmful behavior.  

Due to all this, people with this shadow tend to play the devil’s advocate all the time.  Playing the devil’s advocate in this scenario is an attempt to get someone they already see as the bad guy in a position of power to consider the other, which they perceive to be the underdog.  Because they are identified with the underdog, what they are defending through devil’s advocacy is really the disempowered part of themselves. Essentially, they try to keep you both good and safe by knocking you down so you never have power.

It may be interesting to note that when people play devil’s advocate, they usually have a subconscious perception that if a person is upset at someone else, that person they are upset at is going to get hurt.  This perception that they are about to get hurt, triggers their need to defend. Basically, the minute someone could get hurt, they become the underdog to the one that could hurt them and thus the one this person identifies with and will argue on behalf of.  Again, they will subconsciously be defending themselves in their position of perceived powerlessness vicariously.      

There is a deeper layer here that needs to be mentioned.  When children are made to feel powerless by people in power and hurt because of that imbalance of power, children tend to stay safe by letting go of their identity so as to please the person in a position of power.  Instead of being themselves, they be whatever the person in power wants them to be. This hurts. They secretly hate the person in power for this. When they begin to heal out of this pattern, instead of simply figuring out who they are and what they want and becoming free and empowered themselves, they rebel.  Rebellion is in fact a disempowered state. Essentially, they can only feel a sense of themselves by feeling opposition. Antagonism is the way they feel defined.

If you can recognize this shadow in yourself, don’t worry about whether or not someone can see their shadows in general or not.  If you are concerned with this, realize you don’t trust the person and the focus needs to be placed on that distrust you have for them (or people in general) instead.  The real thing you need is not for them to see their shadow; it is for you to have more power. And in this situation, you are powerless to your own shadow.

You need to see that power is not the problem.  It never was. Power does not corrupt; it simply magnifies someone’s character.  This means, it would suit you to see power as a tool, more like fire. Someone can have lots of fire.  If that person with the fire wants to hurt people, they will do something different with it than someone who wants to make people feel good will.

Focus on developing a strong sense of self.  For you specifically, I have three videos, which will help you immensely.  The first is: Personal Boundaries Vs. Oneness (How To Develop Healthy Boundaries). The second is: How To Be Authentic. And the third is: People Are Not All Equal.

Try to understand something that someone is doing and face your own resistance to it BEFORE you make something wrong.  It is only by really creating resolution for our own resistance to something that we can arrive at the truth about something.  For example, someone might think dressing sexy is wrong. But it is only by facing their own resistance to people dressing sexy and seeing where that resistance came from and questioning it that they can separate resistance from truth relative to dressing sexy, whatever that truth may be.  

Also, practice love.  To love something is to consider it to be part of yourself.  This is a serious concept when you really get it. It demolishes power dynamics.  To understand more about this, watch my video titled: What Is Love? When you are able to practice love, the reflections you give someone will be for them, not against them.  And remember, we can be in total denial about something being for someone when it is really against them.  We can also be in total denial that we are doing something for someone else’s benefit, when we are really doing it for our own benefit alone.

When someone does present an opposing opinion or show someone their shadows from outside this shadow, the flavor of it changes from a challenge to an assist.  It doesn’t register as a rebellion, as antagonism or as a power play.  Resolve this shadow in you or else you will be a foe, not a friend. And remember… at this rather psychological level of conversation, the devil doesn’t need any more advocates.


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