If we were a collection of coins, the Shadow self is the other side of coin that we don’t want to look at.
It is where we find hatred, loathing, fear, anxiety and any negative emotion. And if left unchecked this collection of negative emotion, the shadow self, will take control and cause you to act in ways that are not in alignment with your ethics, morals and true self.
The shadow self can be a destructive force, causing you to derail relationships and choose a path forward that is not in your best interests. The interesting part is that it is extremely sneaky, aligning with your ego so you think you are acting as your best self, when in fact you are not in control at all. Your ego rationalises everything you do or say that is driven from the shadow self. Internally you tell yourself things like, “They are the ones in the wrong.” “I wouldn’t have to yell if they didn’t act like that…” “I wouldn’t have to lie if they were open minded….” The list of excuses we tell ourselves for acting out of alignment with our true selves is never ending.
I heard Deepak Chopra say in an audio book, “Noone Identifies themselves as the bad person with an us and them mindset.” This is so completely true. We want a bad guy that we can blame all our problems on. Sometimes the Bad guy might not even be a person – it might be a circumstance or health condition or anything else that you lay the blame on, that isn’t yourself.
In saying this, the opposite side of blaming something outside of yourself is bashing yourself senseless with guilt. This too is the shadow self in control. Internal dialogue of “I’m so stupid” or “It’s all my fault” is also completely unhelpful and only leads to the shadow self taking more control because your have no faith in yourself. Your light self, your true self, is confident. And negative internal dialogue is not in alignment with your true self.
So what do we do about this? We know that suppressing the shadow only makes it worse. All those negative emotions and feelings build up until they express themselves in one way or another. For example you might get sick. Or you act in a way that is not in alignment with your morals and ethics.
We see this often in the media, the priest who sexually abuses those in his care…. He has suppressed his own sexual desire and demonized it. And thus sexual impulses become part of the shadow self and eventually act out when the suppression can no longer be held at bay.
Many times when it is brought to light, the abuser can still see no wrong in what they have done, because like I have already said, it is the shadow self in control and the ego is rationalising it.
To us on the outside, what the abuser is doing is obviously wrong, but when the shadow self is in control it is very difficult to see through the internal illusion it has built up.
Let’s take sexual desire as an example and flip the coin to the other side, the light side.
Think of someone who has a healthy relationship with this part of themselves. IE they accept the part of themselves that has sexual desires. In this scenario, sexual desire does not become part of the shadow self. It remains in the light where it is influenced by your true nature and is in alignment with your morals and ethics. There is no need for it to be suppressed because it is not seen as “bad” and so it doesn’t need to be hidden from yourself or others.
This is the solution to taking back control from the shadow self. We do not want to suppress but we also do not want to let go of control and let our shadow selves run wild. What we want to do is embrace our shadow selves and acknowledge the vital role this aspect of ourselves, plays in our lives.
Yin and Yang. Light and dark. We need contrast to appreciate the light.
We need opposites for balance to occur.
Opposing forces keep our world from falling apart. Eternal sunny days may sound lovely but we need the rain. The rain is our dark moments, the emotions we don’t want. And yet the rain is a vital ingredient that allows the earth to flourish when the sun comes out.
We need our shadow selves and yet we lock this aspect away when others are around. We even lock it away from ourselves.
We act almost as if this aspect of ourselves is a distorted family member locked in a closet because we are ashamed and embarrassed of the way he acts and presents himself.
Yet the shadow self is worthy on so many levels and today we are talking about why and how you can embrace and even be proud of him.
I spoke of a coin. Light on one side. Shadow the other. One embraced and the other ignored and shunned. But it is the same coin. And every coin is a gift. Sometimes a coin is presented to us with the light side. We grab it, hold it near and usually are happy to show the world.
But most times we are presented coins with shadow showing. We cower from it. Disgusted with what we just saw in ourselves and we try to throw it away. But it is our coin and cannot be discarded and so it returns. Eventually we shove it in the bottom of our back packs to carry round as the burden we see it as.
What if we took the time to learn to flip the coin and see the other side? Imagine if all the negativity you see in you could in fact be gifts that you have not harnessed yet?
The shadow self is a gift.
Awareness of shadow self is also helpful when we are seeing the light side of a gift. Knowing it is there enables us to know what the pitfalls are likely to present in the future.
An example from my own life is in creation or production. Its a skill I have but depending on which side of the coin is in control, the outcome varies.
On one side of the coin is creative flow. On the other is frenzied obsession…. Both result in creation but they are very different energies.
On one side you could call me a workaholic and I run the risk of burnout and destroying relationships and my life generally through neglect of anything that isn’t what I am focused on creating.
On the other side you could call me inspired, creative and flowing. In this space I maintain awareness of everything else that is important in my life and I maintain balance and my life life flourishes because of what I am creating.
I am telling you this because, I have seen – and experienced – how when we become aware that we are workaholics, that we think the answer is to walk away. That the thing we were obsessed with is not good for us. But this is not always the case. And we are potentially walking away from a gift. If we learn to embrace the shadow so this thing no longer controls us, what gifts can we find within? The gift I found was one of focused intent. I am very good at delving deep, committing and staying committed. It’s a gift that now enables me to do things like this podcast, which I know helps others as much as it feeds me.
And being aware of the shadow side of this gift, enables me to know when I am beginning to dip into the energy of frenzied obsession instead of inspired creative flow.
With all that being said, I am going to finish by saying, it is not the goal to be rid of the Shadow self. It is the goal to embrace it. To be aware of it. Everything always comes back to self awareness. What is hidden in shadows, we ar not aware of. But when we are aware – be it a negative or positive aspect, we have choice and thus control.
If you would like to embrace your shadow self, join our Aromanosis Practice Group with a 14 day free trial at www.michellemarsh.com.au/aromanosis-practice