As we transition into 2020 it is a good time to question how well do we know our selves? How do we make sense of our old wounds, our desires, our triggers and behavior? How can we become more balanced, spiritually evolved and how do we harness all our inner power? Perhaps while the seasons shift, it is time to initiate some shadow work. Let’s call this an act of searching for the light in the darkness within us.
A formal introduction to the “shadow” would be to look at it as the concept first invented by Psychiatrist Carl Jung, who described “the shadow self” as disowned parts of our selves that were most probably developed during our childhood or early life. Since these parts cannot be eradicated as they are part of our experience; our emotions, impulses and desires become repressed and find a home deep down in our unconscious self where they are left to evolve unexamined and are hugely involved in our self sabotaging behaviors.
“In each of us there is another whom we do not know” – C.G. Jung
Carl Jung was deeply devoted to studying ancient esoteric knowledge and spiritual scriptures, that would help him treat not only the mind but also the soul of a human being. That led him to coin the archetypes model, which whispered an idea that our minds are fragmented of different “selves” that affect how we experience our emotions, circumstances and difficulties in life. The two main Archetypes are the “Persona” and the Shadow Self”.
Our shadow self or plainly put; the dark side of our personality consists of negative human emotions and impulses, like anger, insecurity, selfishness, parts we deny in our selves and thoughts we find dangerous. Parts of our selves we don’t want to claim as our own then become our disowned self. But its always there lingering causing us suffering.
In some cultures, throughout beginning of time, societies believed that a person can precipitously lose their soul. When they go trough extreme trauma, the spirit will leave the body to protect its self- leaving the person wondering lost in detachment and without hope. That was the root of depression, burnout or unresponsive ego. To bring the soul back home, you had to engage in significant shadow work.
Shadow work involves diving in to the darker side of our unconscious and facing your hidden desires, fears and insecurities so that we could recognize and comprehend them, heal them and adapt them in a healthy manner so that we could bring fruitful changes into our lives. This includes a healthy dialog with our dark brother or sister, and embracing that side of us as it is part of who we are- always lingering right behind.
“We meet our selves time and time again, in a thousand disguises on the path of life” – C.G. Jung
While it is common to believe the shadow self is our negative side, this is not always true. The shadow is really what we consider dark and undesirable about our selves and consequently need to suppress and deny. This solely depends on how we view the world, our selves in it and our own self-esteem. Perhaps someone’s shadow might include certain basic elements such as laziness, sadness, or anger, they might also keep hidden their independence, personal power, or empathy towards others.
Shadow work means waking up to our selves and being truly honest about changing, evolving living life with an open heart. Waking up the parts of our selves that we find difficult, parts we may not want to accept or look at too closely. It is essential to start examining ourselves with curiosity, to be able to understand and heal the wounds we are bleeding from, otherwise we will keep responding from them and from our hijacked nervous system.
Observe your motivations, are you doing something for your personal gain or are you considering other people involved? What is it that triggers you in other people, and do you recognize those same traits within your self? Reflect, revise and find where improvements are needed, get to the root of whatever is blocking you from reaching to the next level. But most importantly give your self permission to be you – accepting the frightening parts of your self that you kept hidden.
Your darker nature holds as much of a key to your ideal life as your best self does, since your shadow has all the parts of you that you have dismissed in order to fit with the society. When you expose these parts and use them to help your self, you stop living unconsciously, and reactively. You will learn that when you give your self permission to be who you truly are, completely and with confidence, you will begin to live in harmony, since you are not restricting to just one part of your self while other parts are trapped in the darkness. There is no need to sugar coat your multifaceted character in order to live the life you want.
Facing your darkness is not for the faint of heart. It takes true courage to do this and to be this raw with one self. To peel back layers of your self and meet your true motivation that’s not united with what you have been telling your self. Use the world as your mirror, write down what you discover about your self, be open and receptive. When you integrate all parts of your self, you wake up to who you truly are, and that’s the most authentic path to living freely, and that is powerful. “How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole” – C.G. Jung