What I’ve observed, and learned first-hand, is that the effort it takes to suppress or avoid our shadow can take it’s toll on us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our innate fear of seeing our dark side keeps us sleeping with one eye open, hoping we won’t be ambushed. For anyone who has a tendency to beat themselves up on a regular basis the very idea of facing our shadow ignites terror. What if we go “in” and can’t get out? What if we see traits, attitudes, behaviours that we consider despicable and get completely lost in the story of how ugly we really are? What if indeed?
The biggest assumption I hear is that the shadow is all “bad”. The truth is that there is good and bad in every quality and since we have them all (yes, you read that right), the sooner we accept all that we are, the sooner we can relax with ourselves. That means owning our good, the not so good and the downright stinky stuff. AND the brilliant, the talented, the honourable which surprising as it might be, is just as nerve wracking for many people.
The Shadow offers us a powerful entry into living a “whole” life. Never has the saying “you can run but you can’t hide” been more accurate. Embracing our shadow side is a powerful way towards accepting ourselves AND others. Carl Jung, the great pioneering psychologist said “If people can be educated to see the lowly side of their own natures, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and to love their fellow men better. A little less hypocrisy and a little more tolerance towards oneself can only have good results in respect for our neighbor; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures.”