What is shadow?
The term 'shadow' was first postulated in psychology by Carl Jung. Human shadows are simply parts of your psyche that you have disowned, suppressed, rejected, or keep in the dark about yourself. Shadows are generally thought of as 'dark,' 'bad' and even 'evil' and because of this, people attempt to hide, control or suppress them.
Shadows often have harsh labels such as loser, slut, liar, weakling, sissy, control freak, rebel, victim, cheater, or abuser. However, they can also be what we consider to be “light or good” but cannot seem to attain or acknowledge such as our beauty, power, value, greatness, joy, worth, creativity, brilliance, or our divinity. For many people emotions such as anger, guilt or shame get suppressed and show up as shadow. These qualities that we hate, are often projected onto others, essentially hiding our disowned qualities 'out there' in plain sight.
The classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a story about shadow. No matter how 'good' you attempt to be by shutting down these 'dark,' unwanted qualities, they will eventually take over from time to time and cause havoc in your life. Behind all your emotional 'upsets' in life are un-integrated shadows.
What are qualities that you hate or can't stand about yourself or others?
What triggers you emotionally and gets you very upset and reactive?
The war against your shadow-side is a war that you cannot win because you are fighting against parts of your self. Instead of fighting shadow, the only way to resolve the conflict is to create peace with these parts/energies by reintegrating them. Shadow integration work is a process of self awareness, forgiveness and surrender. This radical self acceptance eventually brings an end to all war.
Embracing the shadow does not mean that you will exhibit or act out the unhealthy aspects of the shadow material. Instead, by embracing the shadow, it will actually not act out in unhealthy ways, and it will no longer take your energy or run your life.