Inhabit: Your Shadow

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  “ Shadow” refers to any of the hidden allergies, addictions, biases, or blind spots that may be kicking around in our consciousness, distorting our perceptions and limiting our capacity to find genuine happiness, fulfillment, and self-transcending wisdom. Often our shadows are the result of some hidden, unintegrated piece of ourselves that we are projecting…

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There were a number of lightbulb moments in here for me, listening while riding in the drizzle.

One in particular was Corey’s description of imposter syndrome as stemming from “intrapersonal dysmorphia” that began to arise for you in adolescence. Man, that phrase hits home and adds a bit of insight to how I understand myself.

Where Corey describes using podcast record/edit/publish repetition to illuminate where his self-estimation isnt quite calibrated, I’ve used some similar descriptions for my relationship to social media. For a number or years I worked in photo/video/media production and platforms like IG were great for for professional development around what imagery hits with an audience. And then on a more personal level, I could also get immediate feedback on how I presented myself alongside that imagery. On one hand, that helped me to see entwined my insecurities are with cognitive distortions, and on the flip side, that outlook reduces social media to a constant performance that feels exhausting… but that’s another topic. The point is that it feels like I somehow I missed a developmental piece on how to generate that understanding internally

I see some parallels in my developmental differences and a friend who’s diagnosed with Aspergers. For both of us, there’s a real struggle to imagine 3rd person perspective of what someone might be thinking of ourselves and a “rounder-downer” lens on top of that. But then again, I dont experience that same failure of imagination in other situations while my friend describes noticing it pervasively.

Overall, I think my ability to forecast how another might think or feel is pretty accurate. For instance, I’ve long enjoyed this road trip game of pausing Savage Love podcasts to guess what advice Dan will give. And in Integral terms, that’s like playing with imagining 3th- and 4th person perspectives. But, yeesh, my own neuroses can really warp things when that 3rd or 4th person perspective bends back around to me!

My question is, what resources or insight do you have, Corey, to the factors during your adolescence that contributed to that self-image dysmorphia for you?

That developmental stage feels like an inflection point for me, where I was socially well adjusted going into it but had lost the plot somewhat a few years later.

Anyone have insight or resources to the crossover points between adolescent development, imposter syndrome, and intrapersonal dysmorphia?!


My hunch is that intrapersonal dysmorphia has something to do with how different you perceive yourself to be from others around you, from an early age on. And those differences would be real, i.e. at that age, you would not know how to “imagine” them since you are starting off with your self-esteem intact. The wish to fit in, and therefore your perception of not fitting in “worsens” in adolescence, I would guess, and it’s downhill from there. Until you find and own your real differences, maybe (I’m not there yet).

For me, it’s neurodiversity. I don’t get imposter syndrome around my neurodiverse peers, and would love to test if that would be true also in a work environment. While I get exhausted around neurotypical people (even in Integral Life Practice sessions!) since it is hard cognitive work to read them correctly, and try to be neurotypical back at them. And then I’m never “good enough” at it, hence Imposter Syndrome kicks in, methinks.

This is a gross generalisation and I’ll need to think it through more and come up with more examples to test the hypothesis. But I thought I’d throw it out there, in case it’s helpful.