Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung
What is the shadow self?:
The ‘shadow self’ is basically the term for everything we cannot see in ourselves. We create it by the way we deal with our unwanted feelings and thoughts. Therefore, we have created our own reality!
It is easy for us to accept that we have created our own reality when we make plans and carry them out for positive things to happen. It becomes a boost to our self-esteem, accepting credit when good fortune happens.
However, when something bad happens we tend to feel resentment, anger, and fear. It becomes very easy to blame circumstances or others for our misfortune that seemed to be out of our control. From there we tend to seek sympathy from others to validate our feelings of self-pity. Oftentimes, when presented with the idea that we create our problems, we tend to rationalize it, reasoning why we would choose negative situations for ourselves.
Most of us go to great lengths to hide the shadow sides of ourselves.
It is easier for us to point out the shadows of others before we recognize it in ourselves, seeing gifts in one area of life, but remaining unaware of poor behavior in other areas. We give up our power when we remain stuck in this thinking of helplessness.
We are all susceptible to this.
This is where doing shadow work can help us negate these behaviors; to help us live a happier life.
How the shadow self is created:
The process of the shadow self begins when we are children. Our parents, grandparents, teachers, etc., may have said or done something to us that stuck in our subconscious mind. Whatever was said created various emotions and feelings, such as fear, anger, etc. within us.
For instance, my dad told me as a young child that “children were to be seen and not heard unless spoken to.” The message that I received to be quiet, created a fear within me toward authority figures, which affected my decisions throughout my life. I gave up my voice… my power.
Shh… I had to be quiet so therefore I melded into the shadows of myself. I did not have a voice. It was not allowing me to be the true essence of my authentic self.
While I was doing shadow work, I discovered that my shadow self was the director of my life’s show.
In discovering this, my shadow self and I had a chat and made amends. I now have a voice and I am no longer intimidated by authority figures. What I had realized is that I have authority over my life.
Why would you want to do shadow work and get in touch with the unpleasant side of yourself?
To free yourself from letting your shadow self-have control over you. It most likely has not cultivated happiness in your life, at least not on your terms. It causes fear within you, blocking you from moving forward, not allowing you to be your authentic self.
A few questions to ask yourself:
What personality traits in others really annoy you and make you angry?
- Example: A person that exhibits behaviors of being self-absorbed; all about ‘me’ attitude, very manipulative, selfish, hurtful, immature and irresponsible.
How would you think this toxic person perceives you?
- Example: They might think you are too giving and have poor boundaries; that you are illogical and too sensitive.
What would happen if you were a little bit like the person that annoys you?
- Example: You could strive to get your needs met by being a little bit more assertive and having more fun in your life.
Have you been pushing these qualities deep within your core that you dislike?
- Example: You could be avoiding and suppressing the toxic behaviors that you see in others. You often put your needs last, always working hard, going out of your way for your friends and family.
What can you do in becoming your true authentic self?
- Example: When you are feeling overwhelmed and have expanded beyond your boundaries, you can take care of yourself first. Even when you are afraid, set your boundaries, no matter what their reaction may be. Have a better balance of responsibility and fun in your life. Be yourself!
Doing shadow work can be very challenging, but at the same time, it is a rewarding process.
While working through the shadow self we gain mental clarity, creativity, personal awakening and the authenticity of who you are really meant to be.
Keep in mind that this is not an easy process. While working through the process of shadow work, give yourself permission to feel the emotions of anger, shame, guilt, sadness and frustration that may come forth. Honor them and see them for what they are. And then let them go. Nurture yourself with unconditional love and compassion.
Being vulnerable is that delicate place where we have the opportunity to unleash and experience deep unconditional love and a connection to our authenticity.
When you discover and embrace your worst fears, you step into your greatest self! Shadow work liberates you from your story and heals you within.
A Note from Todd:
My colleague, Joanne M. Bisesi and I are excited to announce that we are co-hosting a podcast called The Shadow Self – A Journey Within to be launched on March 21, 2018. It will be available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Social Media. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter via @tssajwp. You can go to our website and sign up to be on our email list so you won’t miss any episodes. Our goal with this podcast is to help you meet your shadow self, begin removing the masks, get to the core of why, and to find the clarity, power, and ability to move into your authentic self. We want to guide you as you set sail on your true journey! Learn more: https://www.theshadowselfajourneywithin.com/