Can you actually Love your Shadows?
Updated: Feb 6, 2022
Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.
Maybe it’s just me? I remember very vividly, when I was a child, I wanted to get rid of my shadow. I was jumping high, and when I landed it landed with me, at the same spot. I turned and twisted myself, running fast, hiding behind a house corner … my shadow was present wherever I was.
In the evenings in bed, I started to engage with my shadow - I created with my hands shadow figures, and actually became quite good in that. I used my shadow creatively, constructively.
Fast forward, some 30 years later, I suddenly met my shadow on a new basis; participation on an advanced course to become a coach, the trainer introduced Freud / Jung’s shadow concept to us.
Quote: Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.
Further down the line, on a weekend coaching retreat, we were asked to role play in front of all the team members. Luckily after dinner, and at this time I still was drinking wine, and boy, this helped me to express things on a deeper level.
In the afternoon we had time to prepare for our evening performance, and I struggled to find something to perform. The trainer gave us a hint: engage with what triggers you, what makes you angry or uncomfortable.
I’ve seen unforgettable performances this eve. It was great fun, and actually very eye and mind opening.
With my coaching practice I’ve learned to engage with my feelings, and these days I process anger quite quickly. Back then it was easier to trigger me. Things that I couldn’t understand and agree with made me angry, so I had a wide range of topics coming up and to choose from. Maybe because I grew up in Germany, maybe because I already lived in South Africa then - I choose to centre my performance on racism. Not because I was ever a racist (as least not in my eyes, at least not that I can remember in this life time) - just because it made my angry to see racism or even the ignorance towards it. (If you want to get an idea how racism feels, watch „Blue Eyed“ - Link).
The performance was well received, though I personally suffered on stage, sweating like in a sauna. It felt so real, so real that I considered to maybe have been a racists in a previous life time.
What I learned with this experience was to engage with what triggers us. Role play is a perfect way to do so. On stage, I wasn’t fighting a shadow, I engaged with it, I became what triggered me.
Many years later I engaged with the shadow concept on a different level. I understood that most people are afraid of their shadow. Maybe as a child you were afraid of darkness, or to go into a cellar or cave or any other dark room. Maybe you feared that there is a dangerous monster waiting for you, or a thief, criminal. (Well, some, actually many of us might have made that experience, when a trusted friend, family member or family friend turned to be our monster, haunting us until today … and I feel all the pain you have suffered … but that’s a theme for a different post …)
In most of the cases there was nothing. I remember myself, that I spoke very loudly to an imagined person when I went down into our cellar - maybe my father forgot to lock the door, and someone is now there … never happened, but always afraid. I stared to use a strong torch, and whenever I „saw“ something dangerous, I put my torch light there, and it was gone. With that torch I started to understand that I control my experience; and the fear was gone.
Often I say: You either own your story, or your story owns you. That's why we started MasterStories.com btw - a platform for people to process their past, and step by step, story by story own their life’s story. Whatever you give power to, whatever you hand your power over to, owns you. Claiming that ownership back is a truly liberating process. The truth will literally set you free.
What we are afraid of, owns us. Fear and pain are the gatekeepers to our biggest joy and gain.
I actually never liked the concept of the Shadow Theory. So many people start to be afraid of their shadow. But your shadow is a part of yourself - so what will happen when you are fighting a part of yourself, or deny it, hate it? How can you develop a healthy relationship to yourself, love yourself, when you are afraid, deny or hate a part of you? Could it be that your shadow, your story, your trauma actually keeps you away from self love?
Some time ago I changed the concept of shadow into the concept of colours. You exist of many colours and facets of it. Countless colour variations. One day some colours shine stronger as others. (Observe yourself in your choice of clothes for the day - why did you choose today what you are wearing? What dominant colour is yours today, and what variations and accents have you chosen this morning? What’s your message for yourself, what’s your message to the world?)
Some colours of yourself you like more, others less. All of these are yours, all of these aspects is you. Engage with them, Embrace them. Develop a humorous relationship to them. Embrace the once that you like less even more - these colours are the ones that need all your love.