There is a dark side within all of us, whether we display it or not that puts a fierce resistance to change. We are always under pressure to be good and we don’t want to show our less politically correct selves. Broadcasting an image merely to seek appreciation and acceptance of others erodes our self esteem. Even talented and successful people remain anxious and insecure if they hide behind a social mask.
Your personal shadow is the sum of those aspects of your being that you deny, repress, devalue and disown. These rejected qualities of your personality need not necessarily be evil,immoral or negative. They force our mind to come up with reasons to disown or reject them. “What you reject, for whatever reason, becomes part of your shadow. In other words, your shadow is what you insist you are not.”
According to Carl Jungian Philosophy, the shadow is the Unconscious part of our minds. In a person with low self-esteem, these shadow parts could end up overtaking some of the positive aspects. Fear of being judged for these negative aspects of your personality might lead to suppression of more feelings which may not be totally negative. For instance, many men, rejecting fear, bury their sensitive and nourishing qualities into their shadow. Many women rejecting anger, push their assertive, warrior qualities into their shadow. We always try to build an image in our ego that fits into positive version of ourselves. When we fail to achieve this version which we built, we give rise to a host of negative reactions.
Accepting your ‘self’ with both positives and negatives not only improves your self-esteem but also opens up a possibility to change and provides an opportunity to grow. For instance, Knowing that you have a lazy side helps you to consciously indulge in work rather than giving into your tendencies.
Illuminating your dark side
“Your shadow lives a life of unseen feelings, animating forces, and stifled roles that cry out for repression.”
When you start illuminating, you will be able to channel their expression in positive and constructive ways.
1. Makes you ‘complete’ by embracing your feelings, tendencies and highs & lows. In finding wholeness, you become willing to accept what you have and opportunities whether or not you feel worthy.
2. You regain your ‘authentic self’. Most of us fear that if other people really know us, they would reject us and we tend to show ourselves in bits and pieces. By accepting your dark side, you come to realise there is nothing left to hide.
3. You regain ‘control’ on your life. Your shadow is what you have not seen. It is the unknown that always tends to have control. You don’t have to deny your darker side. Acknowledging your dark side lets you regain your control on your life and you can act decisively.
4. You experience greater ‘freedom’ and ‘Compassion’ towards others. When you come to discover your shadow, you free the energy and attention that was previously bound up in defending an idealised self-image. We come to realise that we too share same fears and pretences and it becomes more difficult to criticise others.
“ knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.”- Carl Jung
Ways to illuminate your dark side.
Through Meditation and confession.
Confession is good for the self and meditation is yet another form of confession. In meditation, the content you hide from the world rises to the surface of your awareness to be noticed. Confession acts as light that illuminates your dark side. Don’t try too hard to destroy or make it disappear. Take notice of the dark side. Just illuminating the shadow reveals that the shadow you feared might destroy you is the one that can set you free.
Through finding your balance.
There is always a tug-of-war between opposing values inside of us. Finding a balance by learning to cooperate by integrating the aspects of our character that we previously rejected helps us to illuminate the dark side. Finding greater balance helps us integrate all our inner conflicts and inconsistencies thereby creating an opportunity for a flexible approach to life and to change into the person you want to be.
Through Contemplation and reflection.
Contemplation is focused reflection on a particular aspect that leads to a better insight and improves your awareness. By contemplating on what you gave and received and what troubles or difficulties are caused because of you reveals much of your shadow side. You begin to see the reality by observing what most bothers or irritates you about other people and makes you realise that those very qualities you would most strongly deny if accused of having.
Reflecting on your relationship with others shifts your attitude from resentment to gratitude and criticism to kindness. When you look at your own tendencies and consider carefully what you can do about them, you will be able to live constructively.
Illuminating your shadow reveals your dependence on unconditional worth of reality which includes all things and people around you.
As your understanding of ‘self’ improves, you will be able to eliminate worries, anger and anxiety.
continue to refine yourself by illuminating your shadow.