“The Shadow Self” sounds like a mystical, witchy term doesn’t it? And it can be a scary thought, this idea of having a dark side. But do you know what? That dark side is essential to living a happy balanced life. Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it? That by accepting our dark side we can actually be happy? But it’s psychologically and spiritually true.
Carl Jung the famous psychiatrist wrote about our shadow selves:
“...modern man protects himself against seeing his own split state by a system of compartments. Certain areas of outer life and of his own behavior are kept, as it were, in separate drawers and are never confronted with one another.”
We are often afraid of confronting our darker sides because we don’t want to admit that we even have one. We have to face the darkest parts of ourselves in order to transform. Regina Mills, one of my favorite characters on the show Once Upon a Time, dealt with her darkness and became a hero. Anything is possible on the other side of the fire - but we have to go through the fire first. It can’t be avoided if we want to truly know ourselves. We have to face our fears, our insecurities, our jealousies, and our flaws. It’s scary as hell to face our darkness; but it is imperative for transformation, to start fresh, to be a new, better person; to be who we always wanted to be.
The first step is acknowledging the shadow self and then accepting its presence. It’s unifying our dark side together with our light side. We are not whole without our darkness. It can fuel us: to change, to fight, to be strong. But it’s in the accepting that this becomes possible.
“Accepting your darkness will allow you to take responsibility for yourself, and once you truly acknowledge one of these dark traits instead of avoiding them, suddenly, they will stop having control over you.”
-Lonerwolf, The Shadow Self.
Our negative emotions never go away. They are apart of life. They always come back around. It’s how we handle them and bounce back from them that matters. As long as we always come out the other side, brighter, then we’ll be okay; even if it takes a fight. Darkness is always there, and we all have darkness, but we mustn't ignore it. Like ignoring a spoiled child, our shadow self will have a fit until we can’t ignore it anymore. We are strong enough to make it through and we are never without hope. The universe is made of both light and dark, and so to are we.
I’ve been so angry that it was all consuming and I’ve cried so much that I’ve thought I didn’t have any tears left. As soon as I accepted what I was feeling, as soon as I simply let the emotions through, I was able to start moving on. Facing that darkness, curling up deep into the cocoon, is what brought me out, brighter on the other side.
Acknowledging, accepting and appreciating your darker side is an act of self love. Self love isn’t always about ridding the self of its “problem areas” - it’s about ACCEPTING those aspects of ourselves, but also being gentle with that dark side of ourselves.
“Deep growth happens when our self care is a celebration of our goodness and value, and not a fixation on what needs to be fixed.” -Danielle LaPorte, White Hot Truth.
My dark parts can be mean, sad, and lazy. But these all stem from other things, like insecurity, deep seated beliefs and past experiences. However, I don’t let them control me. I simply accept these parts of myself and, I believe, that without them, I wouldn’t BE me. Sometimes we have shit to work through, and that’s okay. The key is to take care of ourselves and be gentle with ourselves when these dark parts show up. Love yourself anyway; the way you would your best friend or sister if they were feeling that way.
The shadow self is nothing to be scared of. It should be embraced and accepted.
And that is the ultimate act of self love.