Embracing Your ShadowJune 8, 2018
When you think of a shadow, what do you see? Or more importantly, how do you feel? For many people, shadows may feel scary or dangerous because of the things they hide. By the same token, that might be why some think that shadows can be quite safe. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have parts of ourselves that we tend to hide from those around us. For many of the same reasons, we also might be hiding those less-than-attractive parts from ourselves, too.
The idea of the ‘shadow self’ is not an entirely new concept. The infamous psychologist Carl Jung liked to think of the individual in two parts: the persona and the shadow self. The persona is what we want to be and how we want to be seen by others. The shadow self, on the other hand, is our unconscious world of instincts, desires, perversions, and strongest impulses that lie beneath the surface. Since we all want to be good people and be seen as good people, our unconscious desires and motivations are repressed, but that doesn’t mean that they go away.
First, it is important to realize that our shadow selves vary depending on how we are socialized, and this will look different across the world. What some cultures might see as unattractive, rude, or uncouth, others might praise or accept. Regardless, it can be said that a large majority of cultures socialize us to embrace our “light” while shaming and suppressing our “darkness.” It is not until we reconcile with our darkness when we can truly begin the journey toward true self-love.
The balance is not indulging in every subconscious whim, but rather to carefully integrate your shadow self with your persona. To begin integrating these two worlds within you, you need to accept all parts of yourself first. Denial is a powerful and dangerous tool, don’t be fooled by it. Be honest with yourself and carefully isolate the less-than-attractive parts of your personality, whether that be jealousy, control, anger, fear, etc. Once you are aware of these parts of you, they become much easier to forgive, and forgiveness is the key to enlightenment and harmony. This awareness will make your shadow self-easier to spot, and you can more carefully deal with how they manifest in your own life.
Why chose to reconcile with your shadow? Self-awareness is a never-ending journey; it is not a destination. If you have the desire to feel more at peace and present within yourself, choosing a path of intentional awareness, forgiveness and enlightenment may make this journey more fruitful for you. Striving towards impossible ideals of perfection is denying the very nature of being human; we are all flawed. Our flaws make us who we are just as much as our virtues, and it is time to take some extra care to both love and forgive every one of them.