Here is how Jung defines it:
“In analytical psychology, the shadow (also known as id, shadow aspect, or shadow archetype) is either an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side.”
This is NOT the definition I use!
That definition is way too restrictive for me.
For me it is not just unconscious, it can be conscious as well.
For me shadows are not just associated with personality traits. They can be situations, circumstances and so much more.
I will say things like “Humankind is facing a shadow wave”, “It was a full shadow weekend” or “We are trapped in shadow mode”.
I see so many flavors that are not covered in this original definition.
What I’m going to share is MY VIEW, MY EXPERIENCE!
It is totally ok if your experience is different than mine or if you can’t fully aggree with any aspect of what I share.
This is what makes being human so interesting! It is the diversity of ideas!
I have been deeply exploring this topic for the last 10 years and wrote 300+ pages of articles, dozens of videos and ideas exploring the shadow reality.
I’m not saying this to bragg but to put it into perspective.
These ideas are not new and it has been a deep process to identify my truth and design concepts I can apply in my life and when helping others.
My vision or definition has been constantly maturing and evolving over time.
I’m happy to reframe any aspect of what I share if I discover a truth that is in deeper alignment with my being.
SO, WHAT ARE SHADOWS IN MY OPINION?
Shadows are zones of discomfort, friction, what we might call bad, sometimes evil, the places where we fight, the areas we try to avoid, run away from.
I wish I could summarize this in one sentence but at this stage, I can’t! Coming soon hopefully!
Shadows can be immature or mature.
For instance lying is a shadow behavior.
Lying can be unconscious or addictive and in that case it is an IMMATURE SHADOW .
If you own the lying experience and instead of being dominated by impulses you don’t control, you direct and play with this behavior, then I call that MATURE SHADOW.
It is still a shadow because it is uncomfortable, distressing or traumatic for those who are exposed to it.
In my experience, all of that is part of the divine experience.
I don’t believe that the creator of everything did suddenly decide to activate “lying” in human consciousness and then realize: “Oups! Sorry! My mistake! I fucked up! That should not actually be there”.
Can you see this point?
Here is what I feel really happened:
In very ancient times humans discovered that lying in specific situations, not telling the truth might save their lives.
When Copernicus was asked by the inquisition to refute his heliocentric theory, the fact that the Sun is the center of our solar system and that the Earth evolves around it, he of course lied to the inquisition courts by saying that he was wrong.
Of course he was not and he knew that but his preservation instinct kicked in and he decided to put survival over his truth.
It was an intentional, mature lie that saved his life.
Marketers are lying all the time, promising stuff they can’t deliver, creating artificial scarcity schemes to make you believe there isn’t enough!
Those are shadow manipulation tactics!
We are being manipulated by politicians all the time who distort narratives to feed their greed for power or their desire to get re-elected.
Entire wars have beeing fought based on false flag operations that made entire nations believe they were under attack when they were not.
So, just on the behavior of lying, you’ve got so many favors to it!
I think Copernicus did the right thing by saving his life!
Truth eventually prevailed!
Do you agree? What would you have done?
A little kid might lie to his mother because he doesn’t want to get punished. It’s fear of pain that drives his lying!
So what I do is this:
I try not to shame the shadows! I track their source and very often discover valid nature survival impulses behind them.
Does that mean that we must welcome or embody all these shadows or call them into our lives?
Of course not!
Understanding source and cause though gives us a greater power to dissolve them, transmute them or own them!
How are we going to unhook the shadows if we don’t really understand them?
Here is another example: Greed.
I believe greed is born again from a preservation instinct and a desire to keep yourself, your tribe or your family safe.
You live in the mountains with a tribe of cave humans 400’000 years ago.
Winter is coming! You know that if you don’t store enough food for the winter, your tribe or your family will die.
So you might steal from another tribe! You might kill for survival! You might accumulate way more than you need just to feel safe.
Can you feel these dynamics?
These shadow cave behaviours massively direct today’s human reality.
In a way we are like very evolved monkeys still controlled by unconscious animal instincts.
Check it out!
Identify a shadow emotion or behavior in you and track it back to its origin!
It can be really fun and so revealing!
I’m not saying that these shadow impulses are good or bad!
Most of them are bad or immature instincts but simply trying to suppress them is not good enough!
We’ve got to master these shadows! We’ve got to bring them to the surface of our awareness and decide consciously if these are emotions or behaviors we want to play with.
Most of the times, when a shadow is revealed you might overcome it, dissolve it or transmute it!
And sometimes you own it!
You might get angry from a place of power rather than victimization.
You might consciously decide to run that emotion and own it!
It is still a shadow emotion because of the way it might impact those arount you!
But it is now what I call a mature shadow rather than an immature shadow.
Let’s move forward and add more flavors to that.
I use expressions like:
- SHADOW OUTBREAKS when a challenging situation arises
- SHADOW WAVES when you are exposed to series of incidents, challenging emotions or situations.
- SHADOW MASTERY for your ability to navigate shadows in a mature way.
- LIGHT SHADOWS for immature attitudes or situations that emerge from the light, not the darkness.
Another strong distinction!
SHADOWS AND DARKNESS ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS.
For me DARKNESS IS THE OPPOSITE POLARITY TO LIGHT.
Light and darkness playing together in the YIN YANG symbol represent the world we live in.
LIGHT and DARKNESS are two energy qualities and stretched between these two polarities are all flavors of human existence.
Darkness, like fire or power, can be pure and beautiful.
It can as well get distorted or corrupted.
But the energy of darkness is simply a pure energy essence without connotation of good or bad.
It simply is!
I’ll talk more about darkness in another post but for now, let’s go back to shadows.
SHADOW MASTERY or SHADOW WORK is the art of unveiling and mastering your shadows.
It is often way easier to point to someone else’s shadows rather than our own.
Shadow mastery is an amazing pathway of human exploration.
It highlights the invisible dynamics that regulate huge portions of what happens in our lives!
I hope this piece offers you clarity and a desire to explore this deeper!
Feel free to send me ideas or comment with reflections, ideas, feedback on what I just shared. I love receiving your input! I am always open to explore deeper and let my life model organically evolve if there’s anything that can be added or modified!
I LOVE YOU!