Embracing Your Shadow Self

Everyone has parts of themselves that we like to keep hidden in the shadows. A piece of who we are that we feel may not be accepted, or is something we know we should work on. This is where the Shadow Self lives.

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Everyone has parts of themselves that we like to keep hidden in the shadows. A piece of who we are that we feel may not be accepted, or is something we know we should work on. This is where the Shadow Self lives. While some fear it, the Shadow Self is something that should be embraced. It is just as much a part of us as any other part of our body, personality or soul. It’s how we decide to work with our shadow that matters. Some may view the Shadow Self as the “negative” pieces of ourselves that we try to push away, but there is a reason we all have a Shadow Self. Unlike Peter Pan’s shadow, ours isn’t something we can separate from.

What is the Shadow Self?

Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychiatrist, created the concept of the “shadow” as a way to describe the parts of ourselves that we deem as “negative”, and therefore, try to repress and reject. We often reject these traits because they don’t align with the projection of our authentic selves. After all, if you’re projecting, you’re not really being authentic, are you?

What if I don’t have a Shadow Self?

There are those who do not think they have a shadow. For some people, it’s easy to think that you are a perfectly lovable individual who has no qualities they are trying to reject. Here, we see these individuals have distanced themselves so far from the undesirable qualities that they have become blind to them.

Just as your physical body must have a shadow, so does your emotional and spiritual self. As we go through life we are constantly given “rules” to live by, creating a mold for a “model citizen”, given to us by parents, teachers, and society. If we don’t fit into these “rules”, we develop a fear of ourselves and try to change who we are to fit the mold. The longer we go denying who we are, the more it negatively impacts our mental health and general well-being.

Can’t I just ignore my Shadow Self?

While you technically can ignore your shadow, it’s always going to be there. By ignoring it, we continue to dive deeper into the rejection of ourselves and this can lead to mental illness, chronic illness, low self-esteem, and so much more.

When we ignore our Shadow Self, we give in to our limiting beliefs which stunt our potential. We also end up giving power to “negative” emotions by seeing these parts of ourselves as something we should ignore. If you try to ignore your Shadow Self, you are reaffirming that these parts of you are “weak” or “wrong”, but that is not the case!

How can I embrace my Shadow Self?

Through a series of self-reflection activities (a.k.a. Shadow Work) you can learn how to see, and yes, even care for your Shadow Self. The first step to embracing your shadow is by getting curious! Think about your triggers, what situations make you feel uncomfortable? Perhaps there is a person who you find annoying and irritating. What about that person brings up those emotions? Is it possible you have some of those same traits? As you’re doing this work, try to see patterns. Are there any recurring themes?

Mindful meditation & journaling are great for releasing judgment of your Shadow Self and for understanding this side of you. Talk therapy, Sound Baths, Reiki, and various alternative therapies can be beneficial when doing Shadow Work.

Shadow Work isn’t easy! As you’re going through these practices, make sure you’re keeping up with your self-care routine and try using positive affirmations like “I accept all parts of myself” and “I release my insecurities”.

The Takeaway

Your Shadow Self may be hiding in the dark, afraid to be seen, but you have the power to change that. The more we connect with our Shadow Self, we work towards personal development and healing. Empower yourself by embracing your true authentic self, including your shadow!

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Sydney Morrison