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The Shadow Self

What is the Shadow Self?

First things first.  I want to state that I am NOT a mental health professional and any and all thoughts and opinions I present here are what I have experienced, read about and currently believe.

 

Oh the Shadow Self…in the witchy and spiritual communities there is often talk of doing Shadow work, that it’s a necessary part of the journey to wholeness and to becoming powerful.  This really frustrated me when I first started down this path several years ago.  What the heck was the “Shadow” and how do I “find” it. 

Nothing I found online seemed to give me what I needed, which was the real definition.  I have actually been trying to decipher this for a few years and have really just been flying by the seat of my pants and trying to read between the lines when looking up how to do shadow work.  I have yet to see anything that gives any type of real direction.

 

Yes I know this path is a lot of “follow your intuition” but if you are anything like me, you need to KNOW the basics of something before you start doing it.  You can find yourself in some sticky spiritual situations if you don’t know what you’re doing.   Shadow work is also very closely linked to mental health which is another area where the wrong information can lead to some bad situations.

 

Carl Jung’s Shadow Archetype

What I have discovered over the last year or so is that the “Shadow” started in psychology, specifically Carl Jung.  Jung claimed to have discovered many archetypes but from what I found he focused mainly on four, one of those being the Shadow.

 

He defined the Shadow as “The animal side of our personality (like the id in Freud). It is the source of both our creative and destructive energies. In line with evolutionary theory, it may be that Jung’s archetypes reflect predispositions that once had survival value.”*

 

I know that this isn’t all that witchy woo woo but I believe that we need to understand where things come from, because everything starts somewhere and in a lot of circles doing “Shadow work” is believed to be required in order for the practitioner to fully evolve or to be able to step fully into their power.  Do I believe it’s important? Yes, HOWEVER, I also strongly believe that going to a Licensed Therapist is a really good path to take if you have a lot of trauma or even if you don’t.  I am a fan of therapy and do not believe witchcraft or being spiritual can or should be a substitute for professional help when you are struggling.

 

Now we have a place to start when looking at and trying to understand what the spiritual community is talking about when Shadow work is being discussed.

 

What the Shadow Self is

The common thought on the Shadow is that it is the dark side of our personality.  Things like anger, rage, sadness, depression, procrastination, laziness etc, are often referred to as part of our Shadow Self.  I personally don’t believe any emotion comes from our “dark” side.  Anger, rage, sadness, depression et all can be justified and healthy reactions to events, experiences and situations.

 

Things that I consider part of the Shadow Self are those parts of ourselves that we learn early in life that are not acceptable for whatever reason so we suppress them and/or try to rid ourselves of these “traits” which then causes us to feel things like being unworthy of respect or love; not being “normal”; that we won’t be liked or accepted.  Holding those beliefs can lead to low self esteem, and self destructive behavior such as self sabotage.  In general the Shadow is those parts of us that we do not like and more than likely we don’t want to acknowledge.

 

What it’s not

I don’t believe that the Shadow Self is something that is caused by negative energies or entities.  I don’t believe that the Shadow Self is brought on by being cursed or hexed.  It’s not something that another person can give you through bad thoughts about you.  I believe we ALL have a Shadow Self and I believe that there are a lot of people who are not aware of that side of themselves and that is neither good nor bad, it’s just where they are on their journey.

 

How to recognize the Shadow

If you are on this journey to get to know your Shadow Self and to work on healing, it’s important and necessary to get very real with yourself.  When you have knee jerk negative reactions to something or someone this could be your Shadow Self.  If you have negative self talk and/or think poorly of yourself, this could be your Shadow Self.  These are just two examples.  As you embark on this difficult journey you will be able to see where your Shadow Self surfaces.  This is where Shadow Work begins and I will have another article posted very soon on that subject. 

 

This is difficult and emotional work and I will repeat what I have said earlier, if you are struggling AT ALL find a good therapist to help you.  Sometimes there is only so far we can go on our own, in order to go deeper we need the assistance and support of a mental health professional.

 

Please share your experiences in the comments and if you have a different take on what the Shadow Self is please let me know.  I am always wanting to learn from others.

 

Wishing you abundant blessings, comfort and joy.

 

Fierce Love,

R. Morgan

 

*Sources:

https://www.simplypsychology.org/carl-jung.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-jungs-4-major-archetypes-2795439b

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