We were all born to earth as emotionally healthy beings. We as infants were whole, complete, and perfect. However, we were relationally dependent on our caretakers and parents who nurtured us and conditioned us. They taught us what they thought was ‘right’, moral, and ethical. We were conditioned to act upon as per our parents’ suggestions and instructions, which further led us to the list of rights and wrongs, acceptable, and unacceptable. We developed some deep beliefs in our unconscious mind regarding positive and negative traits. For example, parents deem jealousy and anger a negative trait and kindness as a positive trait. This doesn’t only lead to limiting belief but also leads the child to curb, suppress or deny parts of himself which are an integral part of his being, to gain acceptance and appreciation from his parents or elders surrounding him.
WHAT IS SHADOW?
Any part of being that is not exposed to human consciousness. It refers to the unconscious or disowned parts of the personality. They are parts of ourselves that we deny, reject, or suppress considering them to be evil. Shadow is a psychological term coined by Carl Jung. According to him, the shadow is part of the self that can never be detached, instead, it needs awareness and it is a product of interactions during childhood when parents project their opinions and beliefs on children. It not only contains the negative traits but also the positive ones. The shadow contains untapped potential and gifts.
No matter how much we try to dodge them or try to suppress it, we can’t get rid of it completely. The ancient Greeks understood the need to honor all the god-like and devil-like parts of ourselves. They knew that the suppressed traits would act like gods and goddesses and could also act against us to destroy us.
Shadow has a profound effect on our behavior and life experiences because it contains all the beliefs. Our shadow has a separate energy field and with its vibrations, it creates our experiences.
How do spot shadows?
- Introspection: self-introspection helps in analyzing and evaluating our patterns. These patterns can, later on, be recognized and integrated into the self for wholehearted living.
- Triggers: triggers usually mirror our emotional wounds. They manifest our deep beliefs and perceptions about the world and self. We must pay attention to them so that we can work through them and heal them.
How to do shadow work?
- DON’T antagonize shadow: self-acceptance and compassion are all we need. Antagonizing the shadow will make the shadow even larger as it is already that part of ourself which we are unable to accept.
- Observation without judgment: DO NOT let your inner critic overpower you and drain you with uninvited negativity. Catch the emotion and don’t dwell on critical thinking.
Confront the shadow and embrace it with love and kindness!