We all have a shadow self. The shadow part dwells in our unconscious mind and is responsible for our fears, limiting beliefs, and anything that makes us “dark.” We can encounter the reflection of our shadow self in a dream state when we have nightmares of a person trying to kill us, vampires, scary dark houses, or falling into bottomless space.
Naturally, most of us incline to ignore our shadow self. For a great part, it’s because we don’t understand our “dark side” and can’t reason with it. Thus we believe that it has some magical power over us and the minute we look at our dark side, it’ll harm us.
Although our shadow self may be horrifying, it’s also a source of our inner strength and power. Everything in life has two aspects – the light and the absence of light. One couldn’t exist without the other. Likewise, our shadow self helps us grow because it causes the necessary inner conflict which is the fuel for inner expansion.
What is your shadow self?
In the traditional Jungian psychology, the shadow is also called “Id” or “shadow archetype.”
The shadow self is the unconscious part of you that you aren’t aware of, yet it controls and rules many of your decisions at a subconscious level. It’s like a vast pool of dirty water which contains the parts of us that we’ve ignored and judged as not-good-enough.
The shadow self acts seemingly irrationally and creates psychology projections when we see our shortcomings which we have denied (and dislike) in someone else. Thus we may feel offended by a man who is aggressive and rude because deep inside we fear that we might be that kind of person too.
This is also the reason of why we often manifest that which we want to avoid. We have a strong negatively charged relationship with our suppressed self, and thus we unconsciously attract situations that remind us of that.
The shadow self as our guardian
My dad had shared with me great wisdom when I was little. He told me that we all have a little “evil” inside and that evil is protecting us from an even greater evil. He said that if we wouldn’t have had it, then anyone could come around and take over our psyche, body, life.
Back then I was struggling with entities attacking me during the night, and he said that my shadow self would protect me and eventually (as I started working with it consciously) it did.
You must become a guardian of your energy and psyche.
Otherwise, anyone can easily manipulate and control you. It doesn’t have to be visible, like the entities in my case, it can be less subtle as energy vampires who suck your energy. Or media which impacts the way you feel about yourself. Or someone close to you who wants the “best” for you while they manipulate you.
In each case, we have to ask ourselves:
“Do I want to invest my precious energy to this situation (person, project)?”
“Do I let them violate my boundaries?”
“Is it them who will dictate the way I feel and how I respond?”
As I’ve said many times that our energy is our most precious currency. And we learn how to manage it and where to invest it as we develop ourselves as human beings.
When you get rid of your inner guardian
John is taught to be a “good person” by his father. As a result, he likes to avoid any form of conflict, and he apologizes just in case he has done some harm. At first sight, he seems like an angel, and in many ways, he might be.
But there is one problem with his “kindness.” It’s not a result of spiritual maturity and growth, he learned to be kind out of a habit, and thus he hasn’t embodied it at all levels of his being. He is kind because he is afraid to be punished and not being good enough.
So if he encounters a challenging situation, all his kindness can disappear in the blink of an eye. And all the inner anger that he has been neglecting for years will cause a storm in his life.
Moreover, anyone can take control of him and make him do what he wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Since his inner guardian (shadow self) has been carefully locked into the deepest part of himself, he says yes to everyone.
He gets married, and his spouse is stepping on his self-worth day in and day out. But because he is kind, he has to condone that behavior. His father wants him to be a lawyer, so poor John has to become a lawyer – and an excellent one to satisfy his dad. Even though he loves composing music and his music has the power to heal people’s hearts.
His friend is a gambler and asks John for money. Out of his conditioning, John borrows him a significant sum of money. But as expected his friend never pays it back. Thus John needs to find understanding for his friend too because in his universe he isn’t allowed to set the boundaries.
If you suppress your shadow self, others take control over you in ways that you’re not even aware of it. On the other hand, if you befriend your shadow, you step into your inner power.
The shadow self as an engine for inner growth
I guess that if you’re reading this article, you’re seeking some form of self-mastery. Perhaps it’s finding inner peace and happiness. Or you want to find your life purpose and bring more intention and meaning to your life.
Whatever it is that you seek, you’re here because you don’t like some current aspect of you. However, it’s your shadow self that set you up on a spiritual journey. It’s your dark self that sometimes drives you crazy and makes you transform your life.
What motivation to evolve would we have if we would be already happy the way we are?
Of course, there would be no motivation. And life would be a lot easier. However, we’re here to explore different facets of life. As a result, the entire universe gets to know itself better through our unique lenses and experiences.
As long as we’re on planet Earth, we have to evolve. Hence our shadow self motivates us to keep searching and growing.
Once we manage to integrate our shadow self and transcend it, we’ll find enlightenment in our minds. Understanding what your shadow self is and how to tap into it unlocks the doors to your fullest potential.