If you’re reading this you’ve likely already heard about the idea of, “the shadow self” or “the shadow”. What a tricky, misunderstood and weirdly represented concept. I’m going to do a little backstory about the concept of the shadow for those who are unfamiliar, then dive into the most massive misconception about the shadow and then explain my experience with the shadow in this first intro to the shadow self.
You can also watch my YouTube Video: A Massive Misconception About the Shadow + An Intro to the Shadow Self here:
An Intro to the Shadow:
The idea of the “shadow self” was introduced by Carl Jung who was a Swiss psychiatrist – this was in the early 1900s. Basically the ideology is that everyone has a hidden “shadow” aspect of themselves that they may not be aware of or are maybe afraid to acknowledge. This shadow self is made up of parts of us that we repress or deny – and he theorizes that this is largely due to our idea of our self-image, which is typically influenced by cultural or societal expectations, maybe pressures from family or friends, etc.
And by definition and wide-understanding the shadow is made up of different traits, qualities, desires and impulses – that are perceived as negative.
And that definition, and that ideology, that the shadow is negative – is where I deviate and disagree with Jung.
What is the massive misconception about the shadow?
I believe the most massive misconception about the shadow is that everything in the shadow is all negative. The name “shadow” implies dark, which implies “bad” or on a more extreme case even “evil”, “wrong”, “cruel” or whatever other negative trait you can think of.
And Jung even suggests that the traits that are within the shadow are all negative traits: arrogance, aggression, impulsivity, dishonesty, jealousy, pessimism, insecurity, selfishness, entitlement, manipulativeness, insensitivity… I could list those traits forever.
Why Do I Believe We Have a Misconception about the Shadow?
Now, the reason I disagree with this is because we all know heaps of people who have those…let’s call them – shitty, personality traits right out in the open. In bright, broad daylight people flaunt their aggression, dishonesty, jealousy, pessimism, etc.
And I also don’t need to engage with society to know that people flaunt those traits in the light. I know this because that used to be me. I was an extremely insecure, pessimistic person, aggressive – I used to keep a cup of pennies in my car to throw at idiots on the road. People who knew me ten, fifteen years ago would have the perception of me that I’m a bitch. That was my stereotype. People who meet me now would never believe that I was that person once.
I have to say that I don’t believe someone can grow as a person or change for the better without diving into your shadow. “Shadow work” is a springboard for positive change, evolution, and growth in a person.
When I started to do my own shadow work is when I started to uncover “why” I was behaving certain ways.
Now, the reason I expressed those shitty traits were hidden in the shadow.
But, I don’t believe that the is the answer to fixing negative patterns and behaviors, is “negative”? I think that it’s quite positive!
And on the topic of positive – hidden in my shadow were all of my positive traits. My optimism. My courage. My strength. My humility (well, part of my humility…I’m still looking for the rest of it). The kind, compassionate woman I am today was hiding in my shadow – afraid to be seen.
The negative bitch I used to be – she had no problem being seen.
What About “Shadow Work”?
Is working with the shadow a walk in the park on a sunny day? No.
Is it sometimes unsettling to discover the ways I had been holding myself back? Yes.
Is it always comfortable? No.
Is it hard? That’s subjective.
The “shadow work” isn’t hard. Admitting to myself that the harsh truths about myself is the hard part. Allowing myself to be vulnerable after decades of putting up walls is hard.
But shadow work definitely isn’t as hard as the spiritualists of today imply that it is. And it definitely wasn’t as hard as living life with a shitty mindset, bitchy attitude and vendetta against the world.
And the best part is that the more comfortable you get within that shadow – the easier the work becomes.
I’m definitely going to expand on the shadow but for today I wanted to touch on the most massive misconception about the shadow, intro the concept of the shadow and my ideology that the shadow isn’t something that’s all “negative”, “dark” and “bad”. And that it’s most certainly not something we have to be afraid of.