Me and my shadow

Posted on Mar 18, 2009 in Healing, Spiritual living

Do you ever ask yourself why a particular person or trait in someone irritates you so much or catch yourself reacting over-dramatically to something really quite trivial? I have come to recognise that when I do, it’s my shadow rearing its head. What I’m actually reacting to is something that I don’t like or want to admit exists within me, only it’s so much easier to see it in other people!

The well known psychologist Jung used the term “shadow” to describe the parts of ourselves we dislike, sometimes to the extent of denying they are there, so that we can only see those qualities in someone else. Jung’s philosophy was that as we get to know, accept and embrace our shadow we become more integrated, whole and happy. Not only that, but he also believed that many positive attributes are hidden along with our shadow elements. For example, if anger is something you dislike in yourself and always strive to avoid, even when a situation may warrant that response, then you may also have hidden the ability to stand up for yourself or say no in certain situations. By recognising the shadow elements in ourselves we can become whole and reclaim all of our skills and talents – like alchemists we can distil the gold from the dross.

Your shadow, then, can be your own worst enemy – making you unconsciously sabotage yourself, your dreams and your relationships time and time again. The shadow keeps your deepest self hidden in the dark and isolated, erupting unexpectedly and uncontrollably when a certain button is pressed, or compelling you to indulge in shameful midnight binges or secret addictions. But when you begin to see the shadow, to recognise it, know it and accept it, you can reclaim the gold that lies hidden within it and make its power work for you rather than against you. The denial, hiding and guilt become acceptance, open-ness and love for yourself and others.

When you see the ‘flaws’ in yourself, it prevents you from judging others too hastily; it becomes easier to have compassion and understanding for another’s situation and plight too. When you have experienced the dark sides of yourself and accepted that they are there, whether you would like to admit it or not, it’s easier to help others face their shadow and parts of themselves they would rather not acknowledge. Luke Skywalker’s relationship with his father Darth Vader in the Star Wars films is a wonderful modern illustration of this truth.

It’s not easy or comfortable to face the shadow, but it promises greater authenticity and a skin-tingling awareness and free sense of wholeness. The light never shines brighter than after the dark.

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Semele Xerri

© Semele Xerri is a psychic intuitive healer, animal communicator, and Reiki Master Teacher. To find out more about her and her services, go to her Work with me page.

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