Everything has an opposite.
Just like the Yin and Yang, there is winter and summer, day and night, anima and animus, good and bad, love and hate, male and female, child and adult, and the list goes on…
We are physical and we are spiritual. We are light and we are dark, which means that if we are bright, we are also shadow.
Yet … we are not aware of our shadow.
As Carl Jung states, our shadow is a psychological phrase about certain attributes, behaviours or states of being that we are not aware of … or that we can’t see.
In leadership, executive and life coaching, when a coach says ‘our job is here to shine light on your blind spots’ – your blind spot is your shadow.
Your shadow is always there, standing right behind you or by your side. It is with you all the time.
If you are on your path of transformation in the form of personal and professional growth, then all you need to do is focus on your shadow.
One small step for the mind, body and soul
Imagine what it would be like to embark on a journey of self-discovery and only focus on one thing. That one thing that will change your life forever.
Don’t you think it would be worth investing in?
So, all we have to do is lean into our dark side, invest time and energy and become more aware of and familiar with our shadow.
Dance with our shadow. Intertwine with our shadow. Integrate our shadow.
If we do this one thing, it will bring us immense joy, abundance, wholeness, creativity and a massive awakening.
Once you integrate your shadow, there is a greater understanding, a boost of energy, a rise of physical, emotional and mental health. A psychological integration takes place, where you are not divided in your thinking or feeling.
In turn, it will naturally change your perception about everything in your world.
The shadow is our greatest teacher for how to come to light
Jung explains that a great way to get to know your shadow is through your dreams.
The way that he describes your shadow is that it normally shows up as a dark, negative figure who is always of the same sex. It may be the wicked witch from the west, the totem werewolf that haunts you at night or a fierce warrior chasing you with his spear.
However, in waking life, it is particularly in interactions with people of the same sex that our shadow self is revealed.
Not that long ago, I was working with a client who was so focused on her co-worker and pointing out all of her flaws… it was very clear to me that she was about to blow a blood vessel.
The words that were spilling out of her mouth were ‘I can’t believe she does that and not think about how it affects her environment’ or ‘who does she think she is?’ and ‘she is so selfish!’
Once she vented and was lost for words, I asked her, ‘If these were messages for you, what would they be telling you?’
She thought about it for a while, very puzzled. Then, very abruptly, she said, ‘Well, if I have to come up with something, the message is for me to be more selfish and think more about myself.’
And that was it.
This is the shadow playing out.
You know it’s your shadow calling you when you have an emotional reaction or if you are pointing the finger at someone.
There will always be three fingers pointing right back at you, my dearest.
That’s your shadow saying, ‘I am here, I am calling, it’s now time for us to dance and integrate.’
Whether the shadow becomes a friend or a foe depends on ourselves
However, most of the time, we are super fired up with colourful emotions such as rage, anger, hate, frustration and annoyance that we don’t stop to think or even take notice of the internal dialogue that got us here in the first place.
Knowing that our shadow is always with the same-sex groups, we tend to do things that we would not even think of doing when we are on our own. The reason we do this is often to be part of the group and to not appear foolish.
It is what we need to own as our own. Then, it would not appear as our shadow.
Jung further shares that when the shadow is projected, the ego sees the other person or people as being evil and can conveniently deny any nasty aspects of itself.
In order for true integration to occur within the psyche, it is necessary for us to accept our shadow and find ways in which the conscious personality and the shadow can live together.
You can’t run from your shadow, but you can dance with it
If we are brave enough to withdraw our shadow projections, then we become aware of our own shadow.
This is difficult for us. It represents a huge moral task because we are no longer able to blame others for our problems.
We then become aware that whatever is wrong in the world ‘out there’ is also wrong with ourselves. The dark aspects of our own psyche become present and real.
Jung says that if we can learn to deal with our own shadow, then we have done something very real for the world, shouldering our own tiny part of the gigantic burden of unsolved social problems.
It’s our ego that is keeping us separate from the whole. The ego is what will give you the stories to keep you stuck and not lean into your shadow.
Don’t listen to the stories. Don’t listen to the excuses. Know that it’s your ego, getting in the way of you integrating as one whole human being.
Instead of a conclusion, I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking quote from Lao Tzu
‘When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.
Therefore, the Master
can act without doing anything
and teach without saying a word.
Things come her way and she does not stop them;
things leave and she lets them go.
She has without possessing, and acts without any expectations.
When her work is done, she takes no credit.
That is why it will last forever.’