Do you have any stories that you’ve pushed away?
You know, those that you’ve maybe deemed shameful or unfit for sharing. Those that you’d rather not look at, and especially don’t want others to do so.
Instead, your mind seizes the opportunity to re-tailor the story. A bit less painful. Or less shameful. Or _______ (fill in the gap with your own word).
Are there any dark stories you sweep under the rug? If so, you already know that these stories always find their way back to you no matter how much you ignore them.
This is so because they remain rooted deep in our subconscious.
Here’s what to do to bring them to the light.
Dark Stories Remain in the Shadow
Jung called our dark parts our Shadow. It contains the experiences or parts of ourselves we deny having. This forms part of our unconscious, full of stories, desires and impulses that we push down in order to identify more strongly with our persona.
Our Persona, according to Jung, defines who we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world. This literally means “mask,” representing the different social masks we wear among different groups of people and situations.
These go hand in hand: the Persona is the lovable face we present to the world while the Shadow is the face we hide from the world.
Let’s say you strongly identify with humility.
For Jung, this means you only pushed your pride into your Shadow. It’s still a part of you, but you ignore it because you’d rather identify with seeing yourself as humble.
Romancing My Shadow
Loving and befriending my shadow has been work I’ve done internally over the span of many years. It truly is a process – but a worthy one.
It takes some courage (and non-judgment) to really witness these parts of yourself. I definitely didn’t enjoy seeing the side of me that could be mean and cruel, or the one that was needy and afraid of being abandoned.
Yet, in choosing to witness those sides of myself non-judgmentally, I was able to meet them (and me!) with love, compassion and understanding.
They ceased to have a hold on me. They ceased to be part of my shadow. This awareness brought them into the light so I saw them for what they truly are – just an illusion.
Shadows are an illusion. All there is, is the light of love.
Why You Need to Deal with Your Shadow
Unless you bring awareness to it, your Shadow remains in control of you. Think of it as a seed buried deep in the ground. It’ll eventually manifest in your life, and it probably already has.
If unaware, you’d have no idea how it impacts your actions or thoughts. It may cause us to reject opportunities to shape our lives for the better. Or, self-sabotage because there’s that part of you that wants to remain small.
Only in acknowledging the Shadow can we begin to accept ourselves unconditionally.
As Brene Brown put it:
“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness—actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.”
In integrating (and befriending) the Shadow, we stop letting it control us.
And in doing so, we are in our wholeness.
Wholeness means accepting the light and the dark and bringing them together.