“The brighter the light, the darker the shadow” – Carl Jung
Our shadow consists of the parts of us that we don’t want to recognise. We are so afraid of them that we struggle to show them even to ourselves.
The shadow is formed as a young child. We are taught how to be and what is acceptable by the standards of society that we live in. Children long to be loved and approved and so suppress aspects of the personality in order to conform. Our shadows are formed through abuse, be it emotional, mental or physical. Shadow relates to our ego identity and contains all the aspects of ourselves that we would rather not be, those parts of ourselves that we have been ashamed of.
When we hide negative tendencies from our conscious awareness our emotions, behaviours can become unpredictable . You may find yourself disliking someone that exhibits the traits that you don’t want to admit that you have. It can be very painful to become aware of deep seated shadow traits.
Many people will not become aware of their shadow their whole life, in other situations early memories can be so repressed that the shadow leaks through and expresses itself in other ways through addiction, passive aggressiveness, anger and other self destructive behaviours.
So why should we do shadow work?
The supressed shadow can turn outwards and manifest itself in abusive and violent behaviour towards others. Much of our auto-pilot behaviour like nail biting, over eating, comfort eating, are also controlled by our shadow.
Doing this kind of work and embracing the shadow is life changing and revelatory, it can help us transform our relationship with ourself and others, it will allow you to accept feedback without reaction. Often other people can see our shadow side but we cannot, as denial causes us to file those rejected parts of ourselves away due to shame and guilt.
People who practice SW have a high level of tolerance, self acceptance and balance, they have high integrity and tend to ‘practice what they preach” In other words they don’t say one thing and do another.
Embracing the shadow is not for the fainthearted. Be prepared for opening up a whole can of memory worms. On the flipside you will feel happier, healthier and more whole after your inner journey.