The Shadow Self is the opposite of your Persona; and it is important to learn to love your dark side in order to live a fully balanced life. Ask yourself: Who am I when I am alone?
Each person is born with both The shadow and the persona. Growing up, we learn to differentiate between what society accepts as good and bad, light and dark. The good parts of ourselves is what we show to the world, the desirable Persona. The bad parts are what we hide, fear and suppress, the Shadow Self.
Both of these aspects of ourselves are a part of our whole self. Unless we are able to learn to love our dark side, we will always feel that something is missing in our lives. We will always feel like we are inadequate in some aspect; or that we are merely posers. Since our dark side is that part of us that we deem unacceptable; we will forever be in fear of that part of ourselves being discovered.
The Shadow Self is Not Bad
The Persona and the Shadow Self can be seen as 2 sides of the same coin, or the Yin and Yang of each person. Without the other, the person is not complete. The Persona that we show to the world is the part of us that we have already “processed” and accepted. The parts of us that we have not processed yet is the Shadow Self. These are the instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions, and fears that we try to hide. Our denial of our addictions or our fear of failure and other bad habits that we are embarrassed about are some examples.
When we repress or deny things; they do not disappear. They only grow stronger and they creep up on us without our awareness. One example of this is thru projection; where we associate what we dislike about ourselves in other people. We end up constantly blaming other people for our own behavior that we cannot accept. This can affect our self-esteem, our relationships and even our perspective of the world. In some cases, they can manifest as difficult psychological or behavioral issues such as not being perfect enough.
Our dark side resides in our unconscious. If we do not process them and accept them as part of ourselves; they will eventually manifest themselves beyond our control. Despite being the dark side of ourselves; the Shadow Self is not actually bad or evil. In fact, it is a strong source of creative energy and self-healing.
Embrace The Whole You
The process of accepting our Shadow Self and embracing it as part of our whole personality is called “integration”, sometimes called shadow work. When we have integrated the dark parts of ourselves; we also heal ourselves and our relationships. There is no specific technique that can be taught on how to do the integration process. Each person has to do on their own and at their own pace. The trick is to do it gradually instead of constantly denying it. However, the first step is always awareness.
Become aware of what other people do or what situations trigger your reactions negatively. Your reaction to such behaviors and situations will give you a clue to your dark side. Next thing you can do is to acknowledge it as part of your self. For example, if you usually hide your aggressive impulses; it can come in handy when you need to defend yourself from being verbally or physically abused by someone else. By accepting it as a normal part of you; you don’t have to hide it or feel guilty for acting out. People who are important to you will also come to accept it as part of your personality. This also means that you can practice your self-control instead of bursting out uncontrollably because you can’t take it anymore.
Since our dark side hides many parts of us that we deem unacceptable; this is also the place where we hide our unique talents and abilities, for example. While the Persona is our orderly self; the Shadow Self is the place of chaos, of potential and possibilities. Many innovations have been born because of people’s dark experiences. A lot of people achieved success only after their lives went into turmoil. By learning to love your Shadow Self; you can live a fully balance life and operate at your highest potential.
The process of integration is a long and arduous process. This is why sometimes, external help is needed if the repressed memories and emotions are too traumatic for the person to deal with by themselves. In our every day lives; let us be more mindful of our experiences so that we can better see the clues that our Shadow Self is giving us. This is also an important aspect of self-love.