Facing Your Shadow Self Embracing Your Shadow Self

The Facts About Facing Your Shadow Self

The Shadow Self is the hidden part of the mind that connects us to what some call the Soul or Spirit.   Facing your shadow self is a voyage of self-discovery and inner healing.   Are you ready to begin this journey?

A shadow is a dark silhouette that creates an outline of an object which blocks a light source. The illumination of awareness helps us see the content of the shadow self.

If we are to become well-balanced individuals, we need to address these darker aspects of our psyche.  The space inside the silhouette is the mark our Ego makes as we live.

Western medicine gives us drugs to numb out any negative feelings.  Numbing out with drugs doesn’t help; it masks our awareness of these aspects.  The underlying issues remain and then manifest in other ways.

Embracing Your Shadow Self

Part of this shadow contains the aspects of the psyche housing our personality and instincts.  Our personality type runs on a continuum from healthy to harmful.

We go up and down depending on several factors such as traumatic events, stress, illness, losses of any kind.  Some people believe that highly emotional events are also associated with the sighting of shadow people, but that is a topic for a different time.

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” — Sarah Williams

It takes diligent inner work and courage to venture into our psyches. We’ll discuss the tools we recommend for this type of spiritual adventure, but first want to discuss the roadblocks you’ll likely need to overcome.

Facing Your Shadow Self

Spiritual Shadow Work Shadow Self Inner Work

There are different approaches to this inner journey.  You can do it solo, with a coach, or within a group.   Each method has its benefits.

1) The Solo Journey.  If you go it alone, you can go at your own pace through the tough stuff.  The downside is that it is easy to get bogged down because you can’t find a way to deal with the darkness of your thoughts.

2) Using Spiritual Coach. Using a dedicated spiritual coach can help to keep you on track and overcome the roadblocks.  But, finding a qualified coach can be difficult.

3) Group Mentoring.  A group approach is probably one of the best options.  It allows you to get input from several sources to help you overcome your roadblocks.  It also provides time for you to go at your own pace.

Once we get below the superficial answers, our Ego used to keep control, and we will see the unhealthy mechanisms of thought.  So, this adventure isn’t initially about unicorns and rainbows, but we’ll get there once we face and tame our inner adversaries.

Fear and denial are the universal roadblocks when facing your shadow self.   These tactics of our Ego keep us from looking into the darkness where our fears and unhealthy coping mechanisms reside.  One of the major roadblocks on your spiritual path will confront the issues of Ego and the effects of the cultural narrative.

Our dominant cultural narrative often contains a great deal of mythology and superstition.  These fabrications make their way into the value systems of a society.

Embracing your shadow self will reveal the beliefs that are boundaries to your mental health and spiritual growth.

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” ― Carl Jung

If you want to improve yourself and your relationships, you must delve into the darkness of your own beliefs.

“Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.” — Marianne Williamson

Culture teaches us to mask or ignore our dark side.  So we are not aware we are slipping into unhealthy thinking until it is too late.  Learning about the harmful thought scripts of our Ego will help us control these tendencies.  The answer is not to ignore or hide them but to give them our attention.  Identifying and repairing these thought scripts is what we call spiritual shadow work.

“Consciousness is like a tunnel.  You see only darkness when you look in from the outside. But, when you look out from the inside, you finally see the light. Meditation shifts your vantage point from the outside to the inside.” ―  Guru Tua

The Shadow Self in Western Thought

Carl Gustav Jung is the first to use “shadow” regarding the human psyche in modern Western thought.

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.” — Carl Jung, (1951)

The shadow self describes those aspects of the personality we don’t like, so we try to repress. Self-Awareness is the key to spiritual shadow work.  The more aware we become, the more light we can shine on these darker aspects.

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”  ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Self-acceptance is another key.  We must learn to accept all aspects of our default settings to see them.   If we continue to deny them, they continue to rule our thinking.  But once we bring them into the light of our awareness, we can learn to move beyond them.  We don’t remove these aspects; we see how to integrate them into healthy behaviors.

The key to change is to use our habitual nature for positive change.  The formula starts with illuminating these darker forces.  Then we must accept they are a part of us.  Once we see them, we direct their power into positive thoughts and actions. Here’s an example.  If you are angry about a social situation, channel your passion into positive action.

The goal of inner work is to identify roadblocks to our development and make us more integrated and aware.  When we become more aware of our dark side, we will control our thoughts and emotions.  That doesn’t mean we experience less; it means we learn to understand our life experiences better.

If you are self-aware, you can tell when you are slipping into your personality’s unhealthy aspects.  The Enneagram of Personality is a tool to identify the thought scripts that show when falling into unhealthy patterns.

The Shadow in Eastern Thought

The shadow self is a common concept in many indigenous cultures. It’s one way to describe spirit entities that work at the periphery of our lives. It’s a part of us that connects to our ancestors.

In this sense, the shadow is not just part of our personality but also of our “spirit world.” We know these entities as spirit guides.  They manifest in the Shamanic Journey.  This ancient form of creative visualization is another technique.

Both Freud and Jung used this process used in the early development of modern psychology.  His technique of regression is just another name for the Shamanic Journey.

The Shadow Self — Inner Work Tools

This kind of psychological work can be intense.  The Ego will fight the exposure of its programming.  But spiritual shadow work is the key to breakthroughs in awareness.

There are several tools we can use to delve into the psyche.  Almost every spiritual technology can reveal some aspect of your shadow.  Here are a few you should investigate.

Spiritual Journal

A journal is the first tool we recommend for the inner journey. It’s the most underrated tool for inner work.  The more accustomed you are to using it, the more valuable it becomes.  You will create several of these as you walk your path.   A journal is nonjudgmental and truthful when facing your shadow self.

These journals reflect the truth of your inner thoughts.  So, they are your best personal coach and counselor.  They can show you trends in your thinking and the roadblocks in the way of your spiritual growth.

You should create one to record your dreams when you awake. Keep one with you to jot down creative ideas.  Use them for notes during automatic handwriting sessions.  Your handwriting reflects your mood and state of mind. We see it as an essential tool for any explorer.

Some refer to the spiritual journal as a book of shadows.  Besides being a document to record rituals, it will reveal our inner darkness.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram is a system of cognitive science. It’s a blend of both science and spiritual tradition.  So, it draws on several sources for its psychometric knowledge.  The Enneagram is the second tool we recommend. It is valuable no matter whether you are doing this adventure solo, with a coach, or in a group.

Testing with the scientific method verifies this system’s underlying theory and outcomes.  This system is deep enough to satisfy the clinician, yet, it uses plain language that is easy to understand.  It makes this a practical tool for self-discovery and inner wisdom.  The analytical approach makes facing your shadow self less stressful.

“Darkness is the absence of light. Ego is the absence of awareness.” ― Osho

Meditation

Meditation is learning to fold your attention inward.  Your inward journey will help you find silence and peace.  There is a simple two-step process for beginning meditation.  You need to take a few minutes and do it.

“The mantra is the first mobile communication device. Everything is vibration. Vibration is sound. The mantra is the sound that resonates with the same sound and vibration as the Soul of the Universe.” ―  Guru Tua

Lucid Dreaming

Dreams are one way the shadow self reveals itself.  Sigmund Freud used dreams to formulate the backbone of Freudian psychology.  So learning how to lucid dream is one tool we recommend.  It is the easiest way to expand awareness.  Lucid dreaming is a technique that allows you to be aware you are dreaming and also exert some level of control over your dreams.

Shamanic Journey

The Shamanic Journey is one of the earliest forms of inner work.  It is one way we can approach the subconscious directly.  This kind of internally guided meditation brings many symbols and typologies of our beliefs to the surface.

Automatic Writing

Automatic writing is another tool that can reveal the shadow self.  It allows the subconscious freedom to express itself through our handwriting.

Repeating Question

A repeating question is a tool that you can use along with other spiritual technologies. It’s a favorite for those who study the Enneagram.  You can use it on your own, but it works best with two people. It’s a simple process.  Your partner asks you the same question over and over.  You find a different answer for the same question, which allows us to drill down below the superficial to intrinsic values.  So it makes the repeating question a versatile inner work tool.

The Emotional Check Process

Emotional checks guard us against doing flawed research because we get emotionally sidetracked.  The goal is for common sense and logical reasoning to guide our thinking.   Checking our emotional state as we go helps us to conduct better research.  Conflicts are bound to arise, especially when we are investigating issues that involve our sacred ground.

On the positive side, these conflicts force us to face the fear we might be wrong, and this is where the opportunity for growth begins.  Using these breaks will help you conduct sound research. It will help us face those fearful ideas, and it will increase both your enjoyment and accuracy.   Here are the three steps to this process.

Fear and anger are primitive responses that trigger our fight, flight, or freeze mode.  It pumps adrenalin into the system so we can react to danger.  But adrenaline is toxic for the brain’s higher thinking centers, so it takes these centers offline.  You can’t use common sense or critical thinking skills when this happens.  So the emotional check helps us shut down these responses to think clearly.

In Conclusion

If this article resonates, you’ll find more to spark your interest on our blog. To learn more about our organization, see our FAQ page.  Register on our site to receive discounts on training and unadvertised material. We comply with all GDPR guidelines and never share or sell your contact data.

Are you interested in spiritual exploration?  Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (1).  Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions.  Please consider donating and supporting our mission.

References

(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia

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