Lenny Ravich
Your Shadow is Your Power

Your Shadow is Your Power

July 31, 2022

Hi this is Lenny Ravich, better known as the world’s guru of optimism perhaps because I have outlived the competition. I became even busier during the pandemic as a  funny keynote speaker and I would like to share a story about my past.

Lenny Ravich

The Narrative

I was brought up in a home where I was taught that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” In other words, I was led to believe that one has to stay poor in order to be worth something. There was no achieving spirituality as a “filthy” rich business person. There was something in my education that had to do with the difficulty of a moneyed individual entering the kingdom of heaven as it would be to thread a camel through the eye of a needle. So there you have it. That’s my narrative and that’s who I am.

I guess I was living out an old script that was perfected generations ago before being handed down to me. I remember as a child asking my mother to buy me something and she would say in Yiddish, “Tzi Feyal. Daft Nischt” which means, “It costs too much. Ya’ don’t need it.” Event to this day I can hear her voice in my head as I ponder a menu and order from the price list rather than what I really want. If the lamb is too expensive (Tzie feyal) I will order the eggplant salad, which I hate, but I’m saving money, you see. And the servings are way too small. By the way, I married my mother 56 years ago, but I digress.

Anything that reeked of capital made my stomach turn. I was hooked on this self-narrative. If I would observe a mansion with a swimming pool, or would watch people playing golf (of course only the well-off play golf, that’s why I refused to learn the game) was worthy of my scorn. Until one day I was forced to face my shadow, which changed my life forever.

We have met the enemy and he is us. (Pogo the possum)

What is the shadow? Dr. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist who founded analytic psychology. He was a student of Dr. Sigmund Freud. He discovered that “Everyone carries the shadow part of one’s personality. If repressed it never gets corrected.” In the Chinese tradition every Yin has a Yang, meaning we carry the light and the darkness within us, which are interconnected and we try to disown the darkness as “not me”, and proceed to project that part onto others (That’s him/her). In the Gestalt tradition: “You are what you deny.”

What you resist persists” …Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961)

I was invited by my brother-in-law to meet an old army buddy for dinner. I entered with him into this plush, wall-to-wall carpeted, fine restaurant, which was already enough to make a meager soul like myself cry with horror.  Then I looked straight ahead and my brother-in-law said, “That’s him.” I was disgusted by the sight of this overweight, cigar-chomping entrepreneur in a shiny suit, talking on a cordless phone that had an antenna. I had only seen a cordless phone in the movies. (this was in the ’70s when having a phone with an antenna was an “I have made it” signal which turned my stomach.) I walked toward him with the purpose of ruining his evening and humiliating him as I had done to numerous others in the past who well deserved the whip of my self-righteousness.

The one who judges others is judging oneself.” Ethics of the Fathers

Why such a reaction to a man I’ve never met? Just then something clicked in me. “This man is me”, I thought. But how could this be? He was wealthy, loud and obviously advertising his prosperity at every opportunity.  But wasn’t that me as well, living in debt, driving a thirteen-year-old buggy and wearing sandals instead of shoes and branding my poverty so as to show others my inborn nobility as being superior to this disgusting capitalist? My amendment in insight was made instantly as I began to regard this man as my teacher. He was offering me the element of my personality that I had hidden for so long. Dare I say it? “The rich, prosperous and successful Lenny”…ugh there I said it! I instinctively knew that by overcoming my fear of what I had always considered my dark side and by embracing this disowned part of me, I would possess the freedom and the right to be affluent. I would no longer be a prisoner of my former beliefs.

My Rabbi

I walked over to his table and instead of holding out my hand to be greeted I extended my arms asking for a hug, which he so kindly obliged. As we had met for the first time and in a solid embrace, I whispered, “You are my Rabbi”. He had no idea what I was referring to, but I could see from his smile that he liked it. We are still in touch. Oh, and I almost forgot, I am now liberated, permit myself to make lots of money, established globally as one of the best motivational speakers, live in the abundance of love, joy, optimism and wealth, thanks to this once stranger who shamelessly displayed to me my shadow side, which I happily embrace to this day.

As a humorous keynote speaker, I often meet my shadow in  the audiences who become my teachers and offer me the opportunity to expand my boundaries.

I ask you to challenge yourself as well. “Who or what triggers strong or negative feelings in you?” I know this is not easy but if you embrace that part of yourself that so disgusts you in others you will have discovered the secret of “Love others AS yourself”. This is powerful and will change your life forever. Good luck. I’m here for you.

 Lenny Ravich

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