Tuesday, 05 March 2019 04:08


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We live in a world of duality.

Male and female. Hot and cold. Yin and yang. Light and dark. All opposites.

Because of this duality, there are two sides to everything, with a spectrum in between.

One of the most important types of duality in our world has to do with personality. Namely, our shadow selves – the dark side of our personality.

What is the shadow self?

What if I told you that everything you think to be true about yourself is either wrong or terribly misinformed?

I want you to…

Think of a time when you flew off the handle at someone for no real reason.

Also think of a time when you did something that was “out of character” for you.

You considered these actions as “irregularities”, didn’t you? Something that was a “blip in the radar”.

Well, your shadow self was in control.

Our shadow selves comprise the aspects of our personality that aren’t “easily palatable” in polite company.

Envy. Jealousy. Rage. Lust. Desire for power. Lack of accountability.  Selfishness. Close minded.  Cruelty. Entitled. Hypocrite. Liar. Thief. Inconsiderate.  Anything that we don’t want to admit as part of our personality.  

The truth is… no matter what anyone says, everyone has a dark side to their personality.

When the shadow self is kept hidden in the background, suppressed, misunderstood and disregarded; it always pops up in the most importune moments.

This is why I recommend embarking and applying some shadow work activities. Shadow work also prevents things like these from happening:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, depression
  • Incredibly deviant sexual behavior/promiscuity
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Uncontrollable anger
  • Arrogance and pride
  • Problems getting along with people
  • Neuroticism

I could go on…but it’s clear that when the shadow self isn’t given a productive outlet, it can get you into trouble at work and in your personal life.

In order to experience who you truly are and what you're all about,  you must explore your unconscious mind.

But first, where does this “shadow self” comes from?

Origin of the Shadow Self and Carl Jung’s Theory


Carl Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst who wanted an answer to this question:

“Why do seemingly good people do obviously bad things?”

Jung finally devised an answer in the formulation of the shadow self, the dark side – the side that’s hidden from conscious awareness AND the side that’s metaphorically dark. Jung’s model of the shadow arises from the human subconscious/unconscious spectrum.


During the early days of our childhood, we are socialized to behave a certain way, to follow a certain set of rules. These rules allow us to “fit in” with society and operate as productive citizens.

Some of these rules are actually good because they allow a society to function, for many people to enjoy a good standard of living, and lead reasonable lives.

However, these rules also pose a problem: they create a great deal of personal and a whole slew of repressions. These repressions create what is called “cognitive dissonance” or a psychological stress over our beliefs, ideas and values.

This psychological stress is the disconnect between who we “think” we are and who we “actually” are.

On the societal level, cognitive dissonance is responsible for a large amount of  our mental illness in our world.

On the individual level, it’s responsible for failure to connect with other human beings and create harmonious relationships.

Cognitive dissonance (psychological stress) is a very uncomfortable feeling, so in order to downplay it; we develop certain “tricks”.

Shadow Work and Projection, Rationalization, and Social Masks

A few of the unconscious mind’s most favorite techniques to prevent cognitive dissonance and further shadow work inquiry is the use of projectionrationalization, and social masks.

Projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings. For example: an unfaithful husband suspects his wife of infidelity.  Or when we are insecure or have low self-esteem, it is common to perceive the problem as being with other people and not ourselves. This classic form of projection is common amongst those suffering from social anxiety.

Rationalization (also known as making excuses) is a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors or feelings are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation. Quite often,                                                          rationalization is used to avoid feelings of anxiety, guilt or other negative emotions. For example, a person explains their religious beliefs as 'God's will'.

Social masks are the guises that we wear on a daily basis to fit in. For example, if we are insecure, we might hide behind the mask of name-dropping. If we are unsure of our power, we can hide behind mask of being a bully. If we don’t think the world loves us, we can hide behind mask of anger. We mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford; we pretend things are fine at work, when our jobs are on the line; we pretend things are okay in our marriages when there is distance.

All of these are behaviors in which we repress our shadow selves.


Embracing Your Shadow and the Dark Night of the Soul

Every so often, a person may go through a period of what is known as “depression”, but it is actually a dark night of the soul.

A dark night of the soul is a period of absolute dread, hopelessness, anguish, and self-loathing.

You continuously question life and your role in it.

You see many things as pointless. Everything becomes a bore. It’s not an accident that you’re feeling “down”. It’s not an accident that you’re going through a crisis. It’s something you need to dig deep into and ask why it’s happening.


The Repression of the Shadow Self

What happens when the shadow self isn’t allowed to express itself?

Eventually, a person ends up with various emotional issues and we will use a variety of denial tactic through means of projection. Projection is a common defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unwanted feelings and often is displaced onto another person, where they then appear less threatening.  For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.

Consciously or unconsciously we pass on this dysfunction to our children.

Regardless, if it is not solved, it will rear its head at an ugly and inconvenient time and the cycle will continue.

So how do we go about solving these issues and this dysfunction?

We need to find the middle ground.


Shadow Work: The Middle Path

Shadow work is the key to finding the middle ground.

Shadow work is how you integrate the aspects of our unconscious psyche into our conscious experience and allow the positive aspects of the shadow self to express themselves.

When properly used and channeled, the shadow self has traits that you can use to further your own personal development.

Here are some of them:

  • Creativity
  • Intuition
  • Problem-Solving
  • Resilience
  • Self-Esteem
  • Greater physical health

The shadow self is the key to the ideal of the “balanced grounded” individual who acknowledges who they are fully and steps into it, accepting the good and bad parts of their personality.


How to Do Shadow Work

Shadow work is simply developing self-awareness. It is a quest you can only embark on alone.

This can be frightening to some people because many of us have been brought up to think diving into dark things is “bad”. The only “bad” part is when you leave your shadow self un-examined and don’t do the needed self-reflective work. That's not good.

Shadow work requires constant vigilance and conscious self-reflection.  Many people, especially in THIS society will never do it.

But if you do, you will reap gigantic benefits that will take your life to the next level. That’s the goal of self-improvement after all, and shadow work is just another tool in the toolbox.

Have you done shadow work? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 March 2019 04:33
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