“One doesn’t become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — Carl Jung
Psychiatrist and father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, described the ‘Shadow Side’ as all parts of us that have been repressed in our unconscious psyche. Jung believed that this began in childhood because of rules, conditioning, treatment, and expectations by our parents, peers, and society.
For example, if a child grew up in an environment where they felt unsafe sharing their feelings, they may begin to think that their feelings are not important or keep everything bottled in. Those unexpressed emotions may manifest as depression, bitterness, and/or a cold personality. Sigmund Freud said it best, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
The shadow is usually experienced or heard of as negative aspects (anger, jealousy, selfishness, being judgmental, etc.) and has the potential to drive us without us being aware (unconscious). For these and other reasons, it can be difficult to understand why anyone would want to uncover such traits.
While the shadow can be chilling, what if I told you that it isn’t always ‘bad’? Yes, sometimes the shadow contains parts of you that can be channeled for good! Let’s flip the scenario: A child who was always helpful and cared for others was constantly told to worry about themselves or “every man for himself”. Later in life they strive to become CEO of a large bank though deep down they have a passion for humanities —
If you find yourself one day wondering, “Where did all this anger come from?”, “I didn’t realize I loved dancing so much!”, or several other thoughts, then it may be time to do some shadow work. This can really help to find the deeper meaning of what your emotions are trying to tell you about yourself. Everybody has a shadow side – some just haven’t met it yet.
Decoding the shadow allows us to transform what is hidden into something useful and powerful. On the other side of a cold heart can be an amazing psychologist or artist, and it’s never too late for the CEO to start and run a non-profit or become a teacher!
Here are some quotes on the shadow side and shadow work that may be helpful along your journey:
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung
“Our shadows hold the essence of who we are. They hold our most treasured gifts. By facing these aspects of ourselves, we become free to experience our glorious totality: the good and the bad, the dark and the light.” — Debbie Ford
“The positive cannot exist without the negative.” — Alan Watts
“When we are aware of our weaknesses or negative tendencies, we open the opportunity to work on them” — Allan Lokos
“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.” — George Bernard Shaw
“You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.” — Maya Angelou
“Unless we do conscious work on it, the shadow is almost always projected: that is, it is neatly laid on someone or something else, so we do not have to take responsibility for it.” — Robert Johnson
“Soul work is not a high road. It’s a deep fall into an unforgiving darkness that won’t let you go until you find the song that sings you home.” — McCall Erickson
“The rewards are profound. Shadow-work enables us to alter our self-sabotaging behavior so that we can achieve a more self-directed life.” – Dr. Connie Zweig
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” — Carl Jung
“We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There’s a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy.” — Lorraine Toussaint
“The person you call an enemy is an exaggerated aspect of your own shadow self.” — Deepak Chopra
“For what is life but alternate times of light and shadow? When we work out the shadow part in ourself, the times of the shadow are not so dark.” — Dr. Lynne Namka
“We can’t fight darkness with darkness. We have to find compassion and embrace the darkness inside of us in order to understand it and, ultimately, to transcend it.” — Debbie Ford
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” — Carl Jung
“I embrace my shadow self. Shadows give depth and dimension to my life. I believe in embracing my duality, in learning to let darkness and light peacefully co-exist as illumination.” — Jaeda DeWalt
“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” — Herman Hesse
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” — Carl Jung