"The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge." -Carl Jung
The complexity of the human condition cannot be fully grasped without some understanding of our shadow selves.
Carl Jung believed in this shadow as an archetype- the primordial, instinctual part of ourselves that must be expressed in some way in order to be fully realized beings. Simply put, there is a part of our personal unconscious that is considered dark, lower, primitive, and physical, as a counterbalance to our conscious, moral, emotional selves. Dark versus light.
While Carl Jung's extensive observations on the shadow self are fascinating, they are beyond the scope of this blog post. I wanted to bring to light Jung's well-argued and exhaustive findings on this motif of the shadow self to show that is only part of the story.
We live in a world of polarities- light and dark, good and evil, rich or poor. We perceive the reality of our lives in such a way that we must compartmentalize and label our experience. This is simply easier to do if we all agree on using polarities to define our world. The real truth is much more complex and messy.
There are a whole lot of gray areas that define our experience yet the conscious part of ourselves often feels it would not like to go there right now, thank you very much!
When we are unaware of how the unconscious shadow self manifests in our present lives, we disconnect from the idea that outward unwanted experiences are a direct result of our personal unconscious attracting these same energies into our field of experience. Think of situations you may have experienced where everything is going along just great and then suddenly something you do (or you may feel has been done to you) completely blows up your whole life. The shadow self loves drama. When you are not in a place of acknowledging and honoring the shadow part of you, the shadow will create the drama you need in order for you to take a look at areas of your life that are in need of healing.
It is not a Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde scenario being played out here. An opportunity arises for any number of subpersonalities to emerge. Unless these "unwanted" parts of ourselves are addressed and healed, we cannot create the reality we truly want and we will continue to shape our lives from the perceived reality that bad things happen TO us, instead of them being created BY us.
Another way to look at the shadow self is to see it as a manifestation of your inner child. This child holds all the memories of your life. Communicating with this child allows you to unblock parts of your subconscious that have kept you from acknowledging and honoring every aspect of you- good, bad, and all the gray areas in between. More on this healing modality can be found at:
In order to be in the light, you must also face the dark.... and all the places in between. Think of it as your subconscious loving you enough to show you all of your "stuff" so you can clear it all and move into the light without resistance. Embrace this catharsis as a truly holistic approach to your spiritual health.
Blessings on the planet and every being on it.