Dec 12 2009
I’ve been following with interest the current tale of Tiger Woods. Women are coming forward exposing intimate details of secret affairs with this super private man. The cat is out of the bag — Tiger has been a horn dog, and now his chicks are coming home to roost, and he is in the doghouse, big time! This swinger of golf clubs has been revealed to be a swinger with women and he has now swung with great velocity from fame to disgrace, praise to blame, and pleasure to pain. He’s demonstrating what happens when we try to hide our secret shadows — pressure mounts until the shadow finds a way to seep out, leak out, or leap out like a caged tiger.
Robert Bly talks about the shadow as the bag we carry on our back, containing all that we repress and deny about ourselves. The more we repress, the more the bag fills until pressure builds to a bursting point. I believe that there is inherent within each of us an impetus towards wholeness and those repressed parts of us seek a way to release and relieve the pressure and restore that wholeness. Tiger Woods was fairly blatant in his infidelity and promiscuity – he left hundreds of text messages. It seems that his persona of perfection created a deficit with ‘balance due’ – in other words, some part of him set himself up to blow his cover in order to ultimately create balance and wholeness.
I attended a workshop recently with tai chi master, Al Huang, who taught us a move called, ironically, “Embrace tiger, return to mountain” (he wrote a book by that title years ago). He told us to embrace our tigers, our challenges, our shadows — look them in the eyes, face them head on. Once we have done that we can return to the mountain, return to balance, centered on solid ground, resting in wholeness, with nothing to run from, nothing to hide from, no secret shame dogging our heels, no crouching tigers hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce.
This is a lesson for all of us, reminding us to be inclusive of our whole self, to invite all our shadows to the party…or else…they will crash the party. Tiger’s shadows have come crashing down on him. But like all the calamities in our lives, it is an opportunity to be honest, reveal all, and come into the wholeness of our authentic self. It is a great relief to be open and honest and real. As Mark Twain said, “Always tell the truth, that way you don’t have to remember anything.” And that way we don’t have to lug around that heavy bag anymore!
Do you hear a growling sound behind you? Have you faced and embraced your inner tiger? It may be time to let the tiger out of the bag and face it head on. Once you do that you’ll soon be feeling grrrrrrrrrrrreat! Like a whole in One!