How real are you? It is a given that each one of us wear a social mask to blend into the society. Every new day, we wear this mask and hide our shadow sides that we are too afraid to acknowledge and show off to the world. Our hidden shadow sides are the aspects we generally try to ignore–impulses, emotional wounds, sadness, urge of isolation, etc. If we consciously acknowledge our shadows by doing respective shadow work, it can be become the source of our emotional richness and vitality. Working on our shadow self can be an effective road to healing and an authentic life.
The term ‘shadow’ represents all kinds of dark associations and negativity. So, it is safe to say briefly that shadow work means dealing with our dark aspects of our personality.
The aspect of our shadow personalities was first brought to lights by psychologist Carl Jung. He described our shadow self to be the unacknowledged and disowned parts of our nature which our conscious mind is unwilling to see and accept.
Despite ‘shadow’ being observed as the negative aspects of our nature, it is not really true. We keep our ‘shadow self’ hidden, because it depends on our level of self-esteem and our perspective on life. Shadow self doesn’t always limit to sadness, laziness, anger, or cruelty, it also means hiding our personal power, will to freedom, and emotional sensitivity.
How can you acknowledge your shadow self?
Have you ever burst out suddenly and said something really cruel entirely based on your impulse and then regretted later?
Once the damage is done, it’s done. It can never be same as before. Once you have hurt a person, no matter how hard you try, it’ll be too difficult to deal with the shame that followed. “Why did I say that?”–you might question yourself countless of times but once it is done it cannot be reversed.
After the damage, when you re-think about the situation, you might find you’ve overreacted, that you didn’t have to react on your impulse. The situation could have been managed carefully, without losing your self-control.
When you are frustrated and ask yourself, ‘why’ did you do that, that ‘why’ indicates your blind spot– your ‘shadow self’.
The Carl Jung theory of the ‘Shadow’-
Researches of Carl Jung about the ‘shadow’ isn’t limited to the knowledge of psychology and the mind of a man, he also focused on the soul theory. In support to his theory, he created archetype models, such as persona and shadow self. For Carl Jung, Archetypes are the ‘unconscious organizers of our ideas’. All of our psyches are built in a similar way, and so, we all have same instinctual organizing ideas. This makes our unconscious collective, or to put it differently, identical to everyone. This connection between all human beings makes this archetypes spiritual in nature. In other words, it means, every one of us are connected by something deep than we could grasp.
According to Carl Jung, for a human it is possible to go beyond himself, and this thought is incredible in any circumstances.
Persona is in our control. Persona is changeable as per our will. It is what we like to be and how we want the world to see us. The Latin word ‘persona’ literally means mask, however, here it can also be used metaphorically, representing all the social masks we wear to hide ourselves among others and in various situations.
Whereas our shadow self is the archetype which is unconscious and made of repressed instincts, impulses, weakness, desires, embarrassments and fears. Every one of us is born pure. When we take birth, we know nothing, but with time as we learn things, we develop the intelligence to differentiate between right and wrong, and that’s where shadow-self born out of us. We pick up the personality traits that will be accepted by the society openly, and hide the one that are unacceptable to the society.
As per Carl Jung’s explanation,
Thus, the dark aspects of our nature stay in the corner of our unconscious mind making us unaware of our shadow self. This disconnection between our consciousness and shadow self can be dangerous as they repressed our true self and let these negative shadows to overpower our authentic self. The denial of our shadows can lead a person to fake themselves and eventually they fall prey to several physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual consequences.
How can you know your shadow self?
It cannot be denied that every one of us carries one (or many) demon(s) inside. Sometimes we are aware of their presence in tiny, sometimes they appear in their fullest glory. But most of the time we bury them inside and keep ignoring them because of guilt, fear or shame. Acknowledging our shadows are the vital part of doing inner work in order to heal. Our inner demons can be ferocious, can be not so monstrous. But either way, they harm our lives sooner or later. It is inevitable that we face the consequences of the deeds of our inner demons.
Below are some of the dark aspects of ego that will help you identify your own shadows.
- Egocentric, selfish, arrogant, inconsiderate, narcissist, excessive proud, self-indulgent.
- Paranoid, obsessive, demanding, masochist, impulsive, doubtful.
- Secretive, irresponsible, deceitful, unreliable.
- Moody, manipulative, overemotional, melodramatic, changeable.
- Suspicious, jealous, possessive, bossy.
- Pessimistic, overcritical, belittling, resentful, argumentative.
- Ruthless, bitchy, temperamental, quarrelsome, vengeful.
- Racist, sexist, homophobic, intolerant, uncompromising, inflexible, obstinate, narrow-minded.
- Superficial, inconsistent, sly, cunning, crafty.
- Emotionally detached, distant, uncaring, unexcited, indifferent.
- Sadistic, lustful, corrupt, shady.
- Weak-willed, nervous, fearful.
- Foolish, petty, immature, illogical, naïve, empty-headed.