Shadow Self: Unveiling Ourselves
Shadow Self: Unveiling Ourselves
Shadow, as mysterious and fascinating it may sound, we often push it away and embrace the light. Although we are constantly pushed or repressed, the ‘shadow self’ remains a part of us. The more we run away from acknowledging its existence, the more it follows us. As quoted by the famous psychologist, Carl Jung, ‘the shadow self represents the hidden and repressed aspects of our personality, encompassing our desires, emotions, and traits that may be perceived as uncomfortable or unacceptable.’. These shadow elements often disrupt our personal growth by creating havoc on our mental and emotional well-being.
Perception About Self: An Illusion?
We all have a rough perception of our own values, desires, personalities, opinions, etc. Now diving deeper, let us ask ourselves these few questions.
- How well do we know ourselves?
- Is the knowledge we have about ourselves an illusion?
- Is there more depth to our personality than the mind could perceive?
- What if you’re wrong with your belief in yourself?
Before we get more defensive with the question ‘How can you assume without knowing me?’, let us explore further into the ‘Shadow Self’; the stigmatized and marginalized part of us.
The Shadow Self is also known as the undesirable part of us that we fear to accept or dive deeper into. Below are several examples:
- Manipulative Behaviors
- Judging & Over-Analyzing
- Resists & Imposes
Often, when we dive deeper into our shadow self, there is much more to discover. But, we are always used to two ‘famous’ coping mechanisms, which are suppression and avoidance. To understand better, let me narrate a story.
Two Wolves Tale
According to a well known ‘Two Wolves’ tale, it has been believed that we all have two wolves within us. The shadow wolf and the light wolf. Just like the famous proverb, ‘the grass is greener on the side you water’, it has been believed that the wolf that you feed would be stronger. The more you feed your light self, the weaker your shadow self would be.
But, let us not jump into any conclusions yet. Just like there are two sides to a coin, there is another version for this ‘Two Wolves’ tale as well. When the shadow wolf gets weaker due to not being taken care of, it becomes resentful and awaits to take revenge; after-all it is also a part of us, left alone to deal with itself.
- Just like an abandoned child, it feels betrayed.
- It feels jealous of our light self, to get all the love and pampering.
- It waits and waits for the right time to tackle the light self.
- To pay for all the bias and unfairness that we showered upon it.
- It knows, by attacking the light self, we would also crumble.
- As we hold our light self so dearly with so much pride.
- Downfall of our light self is also a downfall of us.
Our shadow self comes out every now and then, especially during our weaker times and when our grip is loose to mark its territory within us. To remind us, that as much as we nurture one side of us, the other side wants our attention as well. The shadow self is just like a child throwing tantrums, if you give the child attention and love, the child would gradually meltdown, but the more you ignore the child for the behavior, the more rebellious the child would be.
Thus, the another version of the tale tries to imply that when you’re able to balance both your light and shadow self, your overall well-being would also improve.
Several questions may pop in the context of balancing shadow and light self. ‘How can we balance our shadow self by feeding it?’, ‘Wouldn’t it cause more harm to feed it? ‘. Let us dive into exploring and balancing our shadow self.
Unmasking The Shadow Self
We often hear, and sit with our emotions to understand them better. But having a cup of coffee with your anger, or even dancing with the skeletons in your closet may not be as magical as it sounds. The same applies to unmasking our shadow self. It would be tough to sit with a part of you that you find undesirable and have a mature conversation with it.
Maybe you can start up this journey with some soothing music to calm your nerves. After all you’re going to have a conversation with someone you have ghosted from the beginning without hearing his/her side of the story. Below are several ways you can unmask your shadow self:
You can journal your shadow sides, such as anger, jealousy, critical, and perfectionism.
You can explore the real emotions or baggage behind the shadow self at your own pace. For instance, you may find fear of not being good enough behind jealousy and perfectionism. You may also discover unresolved pain and disappointment behind anger.
3. Re-Establish Authenticity
Once you have decode the mystery behind your shadow self, your opinions about self (e.g., values, beliefs, traits, personality, etc.) may change. It may also be quite uncomfortable in the beginning as we are clearing years of holding an illusion about our shadow self. It is essential to gradually re-establish opinions about self during this period of self-discovery.
4. Healing Initiatives
Once you discover the hidden context behind your shadow self, you can gradually start your healing journey. You can start by embracing your shadow self as something that strives to show your hidden pain to light rather than something that further pulls you into darkness.
Self-care and self-love are both fundamental parts of healing. You can start with small and achievable self-care activities such as physical, emotional, mental, social, or spiritual self-care that further assists your healing.
It is also recommended to seek therapy to heal the pain and baggage behind your shadow self. Most of our shadow self encompasses our inner child issues that root from unhealed childhood. With the assistance of a trained therapist, you can further elevate your healing journey.
Conclusion about Shadow Self
In short, the shadow self would always remain as a part of our core. Rather than always ignoring or fearing it, let us take one step at a moment to embrace and decode the hidden mysterious components of ourselves that we have been holding back. By diving into our shadow self, we are embarking a journey of self-discovery, wisdom, and healing, leading to improved self-acceptance and overall well-being.
It is always okay to seek professional mental health practitioner assistance when needed. Therapy further assists in shaping your truest authenticity and improved self-awareness. You must equip yourself with patience and courage to dive deeper into the shadows of your soul. Nevertheless, you are definitely not alone in this journey of self-discovery.
“The shady side is definitely one of the most hidden layers of humans that is more in depth than we perceive it to be.”
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