In the realm of psychology and self-discovery, there exists a profound yet often neglected aspect of the human psyche known as the "shadow." This blog aims to explore the power of understanding and confronting our shadow side through a process known as shadow work.
What is the Shadow?
The concept of the shadow, originally introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, refers to the hidden, repressed, or unconscious aspects of one's personality. It encompasses the darker, less accepted facets of our character, including our fears, insecurities, and unresolved issues. The shadow is often hidden from our conscious awareness, but it influences our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate." - Carl Jung
The Importance of Shadow Work: Understanding and integrating the shadow is crucial for personal growth and self-awareness. When we deny or repress these aspects of ourselves, they can manifest in destructive ways, both personally and in our relationships.
"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." - Carl Jung
The Process of Shadow Work: Shadow work involves a deliberate and introspective process of acknowledging and embracing one's shadow. This can be accomplished through various therapeutic techniques, such as journaling, meditation, or dialogue with a trusted confidant or therapist. It's a journey of self-discovery that requires courage and a commitment to facing one's inner demons.
This one sided-ness creates an artificial view of our lives in which our dark side is buried and considered taboo.
We all wake up and put on our masks before leaving to start our day off.
And as we see our friends on social media living their seeming-leas perfect lives we become more resentful and disappointed with ourselves. We see behaviors as socially unacceptable, and try to conceal our emotions and contradict our real self.
This forms the Persona: the false social mask that makes us appear more likable to others to the detriment of our mental stability
We unconsciously let others live our lives for us. We become inauthentic and just another number in the crowd of humans.
If we present ourselves as someone different to who we are. When we realize that we have been living a lie.
The false mask shatters and we come face to face with ourselves. This leads to an ego death and existential crisis.
"In order to deal with the shadow, you must find a balance between the conscious and the unconscious, between action and non-action, and keep them in solution. Your whole life is a compromise between them." - Marie-Louise von Franz
Authenticity opens the path toward self-realization.
With a radically honest raw view of life we progress into psychic wholeness by acknowledging our dark side.
That most humans can’t bear to look at in the mirror.
Taking responsibility to acknowledge your dark side can bring relief to others as they feel they’re not alone.
There’s no light without shadow.
To round itself out, life calls not for perfection but for completeness.
One does not become enlightened by imaging “figures of light” but by making the darkness conscious of our insecurities, our persona, our defects, long avoided trauma and memories feed and form our shadow.
The dark side of our self that we don’t wish to be. And it follows us around all of our lives both literally and metaphorically.
We can try and ignore it consciously but not will always be part of our unconscious personality. It’s a part of you.
To go against our shadow, means you are going against yourself. You then fall into war with self that could have been avoided. We all are capable of good and evil.
It’s important to know what good we are capable to do and also what crimes we know we will choose to not do evil. The shadow is commonly taken as an enemy or an evil entity.
By acknowledging our dark side - let’s not repress it.
Let’s confront it.
No psychic wholeness without it.
The shadow becomes hostile when it is ignored.
The shadow is our ally in the journey of life. When we suppress our Shadow - we are liable for it to burst out suddenly in moment of unawareness.
Everyone Carrie’s a Shadow and the else it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. - Carl Jung
Psychological projection then leads us to isolate ourselves into a cocoon and this trickles into affecting our relationships with others. Humans who are then in depression, anxiety, and have a dark take on the world fall into a deport rabbit hole.
Darkness, regret, and self-hatred. These individuals then blame themselves. Leading to a toxic cycle in their psyche.
The tendency to see one’s shadow out there in a person or in a group of people is the most dangerous aspect of the Modern psyche.
Collective shadow = is the most dangerous for the modern psyche.
The collective shadow included those who think “they are the ones who are wrong”. Or must be fought against.
The downfall is the collective showdown eventually leads to war, strikes, economic downfall, racial intolerance, and more.
The terrifying fact about the collective’s shadow is the fact that most humans are unaware of it and that they’re in it.
A confrontation with one’s shadow fills them with energy and stamina which we can use for our daily tasks and work.
This can be done by “Shadow Work”.
Shadow Work Is the practice which includes self-awareness, watching one ma emotional reactions, being honest, having integrity, and paying attention to one’s dreams.
The paradox of human existence is that to experience the light and true fulfillment, we must descend into the dark.
The true source of light is that which ensures and continues to burn in the depths of the darkness.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” - Carl Jung
Facing your shadow is a powerful form of healing and self-love.
personal experience with my Shadow
We all have that friend or have had, who can’t go anywhere and do anything without someone with them.“Come with me to go eat please! I don’t want to go alone” vs. going to dinner on a Friday night to sit at the bar and treat yourself alone.
Or the friend who is out every night of the week with something going on all the time. (I used to be this girl). That is a red flag for desperate need of shadow work to prevent outbursts and adversity that won’t be overcome with a toxic shadow.
I avoided my shadow for years in my early adulthood and would suppress it with alcohol, drugs, and other toxic habits such as shopping to avoid spending time in solitude.
“Obsessively taking care of other people is often a subtle form of bypassing the more difficult work of taking care of yourself.”
A few years ago I had plans for months at a time to give myself “busyness” and avoid the shadow work.
It got so overwhelming that as I began to earn more with my career promotions, I then would take spontaneous trips to foreign countries solo to keep myself from being at home.
It was January 2020 and I arrived to my hotel room in Milan, Italy where I already had a jam-packed schedule with my local Italian friends to see, and tourist activities to fill my day.
I’ll never forget how I felt when I laid down on my bed and began to sob. I began to feel a panic attack of anxiety and called my friend back home to vent.
It was not a good feeling and I knew deep down that something had to change.
The Rewards of Shadow Work:
Confronting the shadow can lead to personal transformation, increased self-acceptance, and enhanced emotional resilience. It can also pave the way for healthier relationships and a deeper connection with one's authentic self.
"To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light." - Carl Jung