“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster.” ~ Carl Jung.
Have you ever felt like something just “came over you”? An alter ego that just seemed to take over, leaving you thinking to yourself, why the heck did I do that? Or you might be thinking to yourself, “that wasn’t me” or “how could I have done this!.
Well, welcome to your dark side. Let’s dive in.
First off, don’t feel guilty. It happens to just about everybody. The key is understanding why it happened and how we can learn to integrate this alter-ego or shadow self before it wreaks havoc on your life the next time.
According to Jung, the shadow side is “the hidden, repressed and for the most part, an inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors and so comprise the whole historical aspect of the unconscious” (cited in Diamond, p. 96).
We, for the most part, avoid our shadow selves by projecting onto others what we reject about ourselves, and by this projection of consciousness, we disassociate vital aspects of our unconscious minds. In doing so, we become out of balance, focusing only on the “love and light” personas, and thus this repressed shadow self can become a destructive untamed force, that can take over in stressful situations, lack sleep or alcohol and drug-induced states.
The more we reject, project, and avoid, the more this alter ego builds and eventually rears its ugly head, coming around to bite us in the ass when we least expect it. This alter-ego, if not integrated, has consequences at an individual and collective level and can be what we consider the “self-destructive” aspect of our consciousness.
It is the tired belief of good and evil, dark and light, the socially acceptable and unacceptable. The same mentality of raising our children with “good boy or bad boy reward and punishment” causing an interior split, where the angel on the left shoulder and the devil on the right are born.
If accepted and integrated; however, your shadow self can serve a definite purpose, as it is in this unconscious, we find our clearest creativity and natural expression.
To embrace and integrate our shadow aspects it does not infer that we are to act upon our every desire, lust or rage. Its purpose is to shine a light on what is being hidden and in doing so, you will catapult yourself into an evolution of consciousness. A psychological transformation; one that many shamanic teachings also encourage.
“Bringing the shadow to consciousness” “is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life, there cannot be a positive relationship to other people, or to the creative sources in the soul; there cannot be an individual relationship to the Divine” Liliane Frey-Rohn (1967) (cited in Diamond, page.109)
In order to go beyond something one must first acknowledge its presence and for each of us to ascend into the light of rebirth, we must light the shadows of the mind. In doing so, you accept and embrace this shadow self and in turn release its hold on you.
To recognize a shadow self is more straightforward than one might think, and this is because every person on this beautiful planet is your shadow. How? Because as we mentioned, we project upon others both the positive traits of ourselves, as well as the negative.
To reintegrate our shadows, we can start with four simple techniques. Recognize, Reverberate, Reintegrate and Repeat; here’s how it works.
Let’s say you are having a conversation with a coworker and this coworker gets under your skin. You feel competitiveness with this person, and you may even feel threatened. This mate gets your goat, and you can’t seem to overcome it. You would rather that they not be working with you, but it’s not your call to make. What do you do?
Recognize the primary emotion you are feeling. If something feels off, it always is, and we need to trust that feeling. Are you jealous or envious in some way that you may not be consciously aware of? Really think about it, and find that deep-rooted emotion.
Most often, competitiveness will sprout from capabilities that you recognize in another that you also possess. This person would not have the ability to “get to you” unless they possessed a reflection of your strengths and weaknesses. What qualities does this person possess that you can also find within you? Write a list if you need, chances are you are going to find many.
Once you have recognized this person as a vibrational match to you in ways that you were not previously aware of by reverberating your own strengths and weaknesses, you can now reintegrate these qualities within yourself.
With each person you encounter, find the ones who annoy you, seek out “your enemies,” and find what it is that is “making you tick.” Repeat this process, and guaranteed each time you will find something you never knew about yourself. You will bring it out into the light and expose the darkness, so you can shine a little light on your way.
Every person in your life is a teacher and each experience in your life is a lesson. Living is like looking into a mirror, every teacher is you.L.J Vanier