In psychology, the shadow is defined as either an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself the entirety of the subconscious.
For many people, the term “shadow” brings up all kinds of negative and dark associations. Because of this, it is easy to assume that show work is a dark spiritual practice that involves the negative and sinister aspects of our personality.
Our shadow is dark because we are made of both light and dark aspects. But it is part of who we are and we can’t be afraid of ourselves.
Psychologist Carl Jung described the shadow as the unconscious and disowned parts of our personalities that our ego fails to see, acknowledge, and accept. It is any aspect of ourselves that is not exposed to the light of our consciousness.
As children, we are born whole and complete, but that wholeness is short-lived. The shadow is born in our childhood as a byproduct of certain interactions we had with the people closest to us. Our caretakers make us believe that certain aspects of ourselves are good and others are not. The aspects that are seen as bad are rejected and, consequently, form the shadow.
How The Shadow Affects You
When we depend on our caregivers (parents) for survival, we suppress the aspects that are disapproved, and we exaggerate the aspects that are approved.
Imagine a child who is very much in touch with his feeling. They are sensitive and emotional. Something happens, and they get mad and cries. In response, a parent says Stop crying like that, we don’t cry in this family!”
The parent believes crying is bad, so they suppress the childs emotions. As a result, the latter pushes this sensitive side into the shadows and they begin “acting tough.”
As an adult, they have trouble feeling things and will not show their emotions even if it’s required. Because of that, they stuggle in their relationships, and never allow their emotions to be fully seen.
The shadow grows every time we suppress something.
This can happen to children who are angry about something and starts throwing a tantrum. Immediately, their parents tell them to “stop it!stop being so bad!” Every time the child gets angry the parent repeats the same thing: stop it and be good.
“It must be bad to be angry,” the child thinks. “I have to try very hard not to get angry.” With time, they disassociated from their anger – but that doesn’t make it disappear.
The child grows up believing they always have to “have it together.” Later on, they realize they have trouble at work because people push their buttons. Often, they feel like exploding and they don’t know what to do. Then they realize the anger was there all the time, coming up in passive-aggressive ways and causing issues in their lives.
The Role Of The Subconscious Mind
We can call the subconscious mind the shadow because we cannot see it clearly and we are not aware of it. The conscious mind we can compare to the light because we can see it clearly and are aware of it.
Everything we reject goes into our subconscious minds, the unacceptable and unwanted bits.
The minute we say something about us is “bad” we have a reason to suppress, ignore, and deny it. Even though the shadow is unseen, it affects everything we do.
When we deny an aspect of ourselves it doesn’t disappear. It just fades away from our conscious awareness. The shadow – with a life of its own – can affect our actions and life experiences heavily if we don’t pay attention to it,
The Shadow Is The Reason We Do Certain Things In Life Without Understanding Why We Do It.
We become adults and feel we should be able to handle life better, yet we keep falling into the same unhealthy patterns. That’s because the shadow operates outside of our conscious awareness, in the form of unconscious and limiting beliefs.
The Shadow Isn’t Just Negative And Dark
The Shadow contains so much potential, gifts, and talents that have been unearthed yet. Great things may end up in the shadow too.
Let’s say that a girl is born with a strong sense of self. She knows who she is; she knows what she likes and doesn’t like; she asks for what she wants and she for sure isn’t afraid to speak her mind! She is a strong little girl, but she is raised in a family that constantly tells her to “tone it down” because it’s “too much.”
The parts of her that are strong and confident are rejected, so she rejects those aspects of herself.
She grows up to be quiet, sweet, and obedient. But she doesn’t understand why her life is so painful. The truth is, she suppressed some important aspects of herself and therefore feels divided. She has a shadow side she doesn’t quite know how to bring to the light.
The reason positive aspects are contained in the shadow is that we are afraid of what people will think or react when we bring it to light.
Dissociation From Parts Of The Self Creates A Split
The shadow is an inner fragmentation that occurs within you. It almost like two different people are operating your life.
Have you even eat the most gentle, sweetest, and kind person, and in the blink of a eye something happens, and this person turns into someone else? They become mean and scary; they throw the biggest tantrum or freak out.
How did this sweet person turn into a crazy psycho?
It’s because they have two parts of themselves operating their life and the shadow part took over when they were triggered. We often underestimate the shadow, thinking it has no power over us. But that’s wrong. The shadow is very powerful.
I have a friend that is sweet and kind and would do anything for anyone. But, when something triggers her, no-one wants to be near her. she’s like a volcano going off. I’ve learned to notice her eyes, because her eyes tell me when something bad will happen. I can usually diffuse the situation if I have enough warning.
It can turn your,use upside down and destroy to most cherished relationships.
Every Time You Act Out Your Shadow, It Grows Bigger And Bigger As You Repress And Repress
How To Spot The Shadow Within You
Separation and division are not the natural states of anything. Integration and wholeness are natural for humans and because of this,the subconscious will continually try to get your attention to integrate what’s there.
It’s difficult to spot your shadow, especially if you’ve suppress a part of yourself into the unconscious.
There Are Three Ways To Spit Your Shadow Side In Action
Many people project their issues onto others. When they dislike something in themselves, they point it out in others. We often project our shadows – our repressed anger, guilt, shame, and other things we don’t like about our – onto others. We lash out at people for the behaviors we don’t like in our yard.
Pay close attention to how you project yourself into the outside world. Because the people, places and things become a mirror and reflect who we really are.
A trigger is a reminder of past trauma. The surface events that cause conflicts in our lives are not just triggers – they are messenger that enable us to become conscious of something that it buried deep within us.
Pay close attention to your triggers because they can show you your wounds and your shadow self easily. Try to catch your emotional triggers before you act out, not after.
Repeating patterns in our lives point us to aspects of our shadow. Patterns are expressions of our shadow because the shadow mirrors itself into our reality to be seen and integrated.
Our shadows want us to become aware of it. It wants to be seen and accepted. Within these patterns, you will find aspects of your shadow self that will keep showing up in different situations until you are ready to look at them and break the cycle.
Why We Resist Shadow Work
The shadow is a weird, controversial subject.
While many spiritual teachers, life coaches, and psychologists love shadow work and feel it can improve a person’s life, others believe it’s not that beneficial. They believe test if you go looking for dark things, all you will find is… more dark things.
But I believe it’s great to just focus on the light, it doesn’t make the dark go away. The dark is just on the other side, waiting for a time to show its face. And when it does, you may not be expecting it at all.
I had so many repressed experiences in my life. I couldn’t have even began to heal from my past, it was then and only then that I began to be at peace with myself.
It’s better to go looking so you can make peace with your shadow once and for all. If you are worried about easy you might find, there is probably something important you don’t want to revisit. Instead of continuing to avoid it, you can see it as one more reason to do shadow work.
This Work Is Necessary If You Want To Learn And Improve Your Life. And The Truth Is, No One Else Can Do It For You
Shadow work isn’t a huge thing that requires years of planning. Shadow work is simply becoming aware of what’s hidden and gradually healing those aspects of yourself.
If you decide to start shadow worn, you may feel the way you felt as a child when you were forced to suppress those emotions. But once you overcome it. It may open your eyes to a whole new side of you that you never knew existed.
Here is a guide to help you transcend the darker aspects of yourself:
How To Integrate The Shadow
Shadow work is nothing but to make the unconscious conscious and the unacceptable – acceptable. That’s all you are trying to accomplish.
The goal of shadow work is integration. The integration of the unconscious leads to complete and total awareness. To do shadow work is to bring your shadow closer to you. It is part of who you are.
The goal here is to bring your shadow into the light or to shine light onto the shadow. The more you shine a light on your shadow, the smaller it gets
Here are some ways to begin your shadow work.
1. Review Your Childhood
“Was I completely accepted as a child?How did I feel most of the time? What was expected of me and what behaviors and emotions were judged by my family?”
Those behaviors that were judged created some sort of shadow aspect within you. Once you find the answers to these questions, they will lead you to see the shadow aspects of yourself.
The shadow usually has its root in your childhood.
2. Become Aware Of Your Shadow
We are unaware of the shadow in the same way we can’t see in the darkness. To become aware of something, you have to choose to see it. Once you see those rejected aspects of yourself m reflect on them.
Are they positive or negative? If you find something negative, make peace with it and release it from the shadow. If it’s a positive aspect, reunite with in and call its power back.
Becoming aware is similar to seeing something that is suddenly illuminated by light. The most important step in doing shadow work is to become aware of it.
Shine a light on it or bring it out of the darkness
3. Don’t Shame The Shadow
Once you become aware of your shadow self don’t shame or blame it. Instead give it your love, compassion, and acceptance.
Your shadow was born from non-acceptance and rejection in the first place. It was created the moment you began to push it away. Antagonizing the shadow even more only adds fuel to the fire. The shadow is part of who you are, so look at it from a place of love.
Love your shadow for all it is.
4. Use Your Triggers
Triggers are messengers and an Invitation to delve deeper into unconscious things. The messengers are the events that cause an extreme emotional reaction within you. Naming triggers as such changes them and decreases the effect they have on you,
It allows you to step back from your emotional reaction and observe it instead of living it.
Triggers Are Reflections Of Deep Unresolved Wounds. They Come To Open Your Eyes To Things That Are Suppressed
5. Observe Without Judgement
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with shadow work is to judge the shadow once you spot it. If you let the harsh inner critic come up and judge the shadow, you are rejecting it all over again and therefore make it bigger and stronger,
Shadow Work Is The Highest Form Of Light Work You Can Do, On Your Own
Make Peace With Your Shadow So You Can Find Peace
Shadow work is a great way to experience inner healing and transformation, and all it takes is self-awareness.
Every person on earth has gone through a difficult time in their life that created shadows within them. The good news is the entire universe is on our side trying to he,o us become while again. Every action of the universe is headed in the direction of growth and expansion,
We are provided with abundant opportunities to confront our shadow selves so that we can finally be free of them. It doesn’t matter how long you avoid looking at your shadow self. It will keep manifesting into your reality until you pay attention to it.
The self that is fractured seems to become unified, and we will be presented with opportunities to see the aspects of ourselves we have suppressed, rejected, denied, and disowned.
The more we become aware of our shadow self and accept it, the more embodied we are as a conscious being and the more agency we have over ourselves and our lives.
Just a tip: if you pray or talk to God, It’s a good way to unload some of the burden that comes with shadow work.