According to Karl Jung, at the very core of our humanness exists a dualism – the shadow and the light. Before we can manifest our light and become that winged bird, we must first come to know and accept our shadow.
The name shadow is that.. it is a mixture of both the darkness of our repressed feelings and the lightness of all our unacknowledged and unformulated qualities of spirituality as we walk our path of our journey to complete soul integration with the personality.
Until we become fully realised, integrated beings we will always have a shadow to a lesser or greater extent. It acts out in all sorts of unconscious ways, but if one can recognise and accept the shadow it will lose its power over us. It will de-activate for it will no longer have a purpose, except to join in and help us celebrate life.
The shadow’s purpose is to bring all our unconscious, denied feelings into conscious awareness. It makes a fool of us with its antics that it forces us to get real and deal with the part of ourselves we are trying to skip over. The shadow is our anti self or negative ego and it serves as the polar opposite of our positive ego as we learn to discriminate between our truth and untruth.
Think of your ego as a body ego which has taken form inn order to absorb all the dense harshness of earth, serving as a buffer zone for the Soul, which is only light. As the Soul enters the ego’s world its loving nature will begin to lighten up the ego. When the Soul merges with the ego, a whole new Self takes form – a Soul-infused personality.
But until the ego becomes totally transparent with the light of the Soul, what is trailing behind the ego? – its shadow! The ego’s judgments are in the way, blocking the rays of the Soul and creating a shadow self. It is only our judgments that hold our shadow away from its transmutation into light.
When we can stop practising judgment, either of ourselves or others, as good or bad the shadow will become an irrelevant concept as we will just be ~here~ doing our being, involving fully and passionately in life.
There are two modes of living for each of us. The inner way is the ~way of self responsibility~, wherein we always say first ” what is the lesson in this for me?”.
The outer way – ~the way of projection~ is where we put our own inner processes out onto others and then watch as these ‘uncooked seeds’ are thrown back at us. The outer way blocks us from seeing our own patterns and from the healing that self responsibility eventually brings.
When that shift is made from outer projection to inner responsibility, everything rational begins to fall into place. This is the shift from unconscious to conscious living. Instead of carry round our old storylines around in our heads like precious belonging, we possess the free attention necessary to focus inwardly on our unfolding future, the urges that emanate within.
We learn one of the greatest lessons in healing, that we are not responsible for others feelings or misplaced hopes or dreams. Nor are they responsible for ours. We begin to see that we each create our own personal reality as a stage upon which we either celebrate our life`s experiences or create a melodrama wherein painful lessons are played out.
The shadow is a product of all those old repressed hurts left over from our earlier years, which are now lodged in our subconscious minds and create our current self destructive patterns and feelings of insecurity. In our refusal to allow these denied feelings expression, either because we’ve been ashamed of them or didn’t recognise their existence – we have not allowed our shadow to be faced, understood, accepted and released.
Until we can stop denying this split off and unwanted self, our healing will be on hold. And our lives will be fraught with the imbalanced emotions of co-dependence.
Most of us know that every person (and all situations) have both their positive and negative sides. Yet many of us ignore our dark side, pretending we don’t have negative feelings and denying them expression.
As a result our hidden side undoubtedly rebels, forcing us to act on our disowned feelings, usually when we are under stress. This is our shadow at work. For the shadow is the container of the aspects of ourselves we perceive as intolerable, or all our repressed emotions.
The shadow is part of moving through the chakras on our journey to enlightenment. Yet before we become enlightened and can relax into the wisdom of our inner selves we create an outer game of life we call ~reality~.
We create storylines and projections and then become trapped in them. We think, falsely, that our outer conditions and other people are causing our feelings and creating our situations.
When we were children, others were in part responsible for the situations we found ourselves in. In adulthood however, as if in viewing a movie, we often see all our own inner needs and processes unfolding as events coming at us from the outer world.
These storylines and projections, as part of the shadow come from deep within our unconscious minds . And they will remain our story only so long as our past hurts remain unhealed. For once the emotions heal, the energy goes out of the story. You may have experienced a trauma in adult life that you haven’t been able to examine, work through and integrate. Until you can look back, draw forth and embrace your injured selves you will continue to act from these storyline places. Your shadow will rule your present relationships.
It is important to realise that eventually, if we commit to our healing, even though there might be a lot of anger, pain, hurt or sorrow in that process yet be willing to take the step, we can be free of our own suffering and he trappings of the past.
If we are to heal we must make our past conscious and stop acting from it and blaming it – the past must be recognised, owned, accepted, forgiven and dropped.
Ways the Shadow can Manifest
The shadow because it is emotional in nature, usually requires intense emotional release work in order to heal. The shadow is the container of all your emotionalisms. It is the one who is always touch with what you are feeling and simultaneously denying that you feel at all.
That is why it can be so hard to pin down. All emotions by their very nature are vaporous, they are indistincts they move from positive to negative in illogical ways.
The shadow is very psychic. It can pick up what is happening in a whole group of people in less than a second, but we might refuse to acknowledge its insights.
Being passive-aggressive or sneaking away can be a loaded non-reaction. So is whispering into someone else’s ear or scheming behind people’s backs, inciting others to act out our shadow for us. And most often these behaviours backfire. Remember, the shadow is a trickster, it will get our attention if we try to deny its feelings.
We can look at how the shadow actually manifests in our lives, for the first step out of denial and into healing is always recognition. We all know that we have a negative side. We must become conscious of our shadow’s ways and be able to tame them by making use of our observer self.
We observe our process as it is occurring, making our life conscious as we go. The observer self is a moment in time that stops us right in between the action and the re-action. The stimulus or the response. It offers us a choice. We can now choose whether or not to act on an emotion. The observer self is the tamer of the shadow.
Once we bring the observer self into our lives, it will have an ongoing dialogue with our shadows many voices and all the taunting images that challenge us when we are trying to get past a debilitating habit.
By clarifying these images and energies – and getting to know them – we will eventually integrate our shadow self. Our positive ego will take domination over our shadow fairly easily if we are willing and courageous enough to look ourselves fairly squarely in the eye and acknowledge our own personal truths.
The purpose of the shadow is to provide the human soul with the opposition and tension to develop tough inner resolve and determination to clarify through the challenge of the opposites.
Ways of recognising the shadow at work
In order to free ourselves from our past we must first make conscious our shadow’s ways of acting out its storylines and projections. Remembering that the shadow is part of our emotional body, when we are being dominated by its energies, we feel super sensitive and reactive. One does need to stop and ask oneself the question ~Why am I feeling like this?~
Some examples of the shadow at work
1. I will perceive certain types of people in ones life as ~enemies~ or ~dangerous~ and feel I am being victimised by them. I may even obsess about my troubles. My sense of trust is at stake.
2. I will perceive some people as better than me, saviours, teachers, paragons of truth or authority putting them on pedestals. I believe other human beings hold the key to my salvation. When I am honest with myself, I feel demeaned by this; as I am giving away my own intrinsic wisdom.
3. On the other hand I will fall madly in love with someone who is not available or appropriate for me (a married man, a priest, a well known womaniser). My deep ability to relate and care is wasted on irrelevant ~romantic pursuits~ that keep me excited and preoccupied with the thrill and drama of newness. I am therefore spared from having to make myself truly vulnerable in relationships that are ongoing and real. My passionate nature is being mis-directed.
4. I will perceive others as experts on my health and well being and will give my own creative power of rational and intuitive thought over to another ~smarter person~ believing this other can label me accurately, diagnose me completely and eventually cure me of my illness. (similar to number 2 above) My own intelligence is being sacrificed. I stop thinking for myself. After a while a slow fury begins to build.
5. I will sacrifice my physical body, emotions and mental energy to a ~cause~ that I believe is more important than my own life, buying into others perceptions. Then later, when I feel truly used and abused I will see that the ~cause~ I was working for was someone else’s idea of service.
In general when I get any kind of clutched feeling in my gut (solar plexus) that makes me want to act out, scream, run, control, ie, hide – this type of behaviour usually means my shadow is activating.
In order to help keep within us our own sense of power and not operate from the shadow self a couple of suggestions.
Do not project onto others our predicaments or states of mind.
The resolution of external conflicts with others necessitates the prior resolution of our own inner conflicts.
When we are perceiving someone else as our problem we may need to sit with our emotions for a while and contemplate how we might have helped to bring the situation on ourselves. Then searching deeply within to see how we may have been denying our part.
In the end we may come to the conclusion that we will be better able to resolve the issue if we can articulate the part for which we are responsible. Anytime a charged issue comes up and we feel the urge to act out, the following steps will clear the projection:
1. Claiming the issue as our own.
2. Discharging the irritated energies or pent-up emotions around the given conflict appropriately (with a therapist, close friend or by ourselves privately through physical and/or emotional expression: crying, screaming, moaning, or raging into a pillow).
3. Then transforming the energy into some other type of expression – our own work, our own creativity – an expression that will take care of us and what we need, appropriately and truthfully.
4. When we are better able to step back from the situation, we can approach the other person(s) involved to discuss the issue. Because we have achieved our own clarity, others can – and usually will – see their part without becoming defensive.
By clarifying our energies and getting to know them we will eventually integrate our shadow self. Our positive ego will take domination over our shadow fairly easily, if we are willing and courageous enough to look ourselves squarely in the eye.
So welcome dear shadow. We recognise you. You relentlesly demand the best from us…not allowing anything that is needed to be looked at to be bypassed. Step into the light of integration on our Soul journey for of course in the words of a dear prophet….
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart, the desire and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.