The Shadow Self is a topic that gets thrown around a lot nowadays, with a lot of “blame” being placed on the shadow by people who use it as an excuse to act badly, simply saying “oh sorry I was acting out of my shadow” instead of just owning the fact that they messed up, Your Shadow is part of you, so you cannot blame it for something that has been done like it was someone else.
Another misconstrued concept of the Shadow Self is its confusion with Darkness/Evil. A shadow is only visible in the light, and though it is a heavy, dense aspect, it is not the same as darkness, which is the complete absence of light.
What does that mean on an energetic spiritual level? There are times that we act on the heavy energy of our shadow, lashing out or being hurtful, but that does not mean we are on a path of darkness. It simply means we have something that needs to be healed. Someone who consciously acts only on heavy and dense energies, to purposefully cause harm is someone who is acting from a place of darkness, having given up all light and can therefore not become aware of what they need to heal within themselves, falling deeper and deeper in to darkness.
Let me explain a bit more…
To understand the “shadow”, we need to start by turning to our physical, natural reality and ask: “What is a shadow?” A shadow is a disruption in the flow of light, casting a two-dimensional, visual copy of the perceived object opposite to the angle of the direction of light. Though shadows from the same object can differ in size and sometimes seem like a totally different shape, the object source of the shadow remains the same, but it is the intensity of and angle from which the light is shone that changes the appearance of the shadow.
Most of us have become so distracted in life; occupied with the mundane tasks of living, being part of society, living up to expectations, being what our families, jobs, communities, partners, children etc need us to be, that we never get to see ourselves; neither our light nor our shadows, until a strong light source is introduced – very often through a harsh life experience that shakes the flaps off of our eyes, but sometimes through a natural deep inner awakening.
We see ourselves for the first time, start to get to know ourselves, our true selves, seeing all parts of us as the Light shines upon us. And then we notice it, cast to the side in a shape that seems familiar yet unrecognizable – our shadow. It makes us see ourselves from a different perspective and angle. It makes us think differently about who we are and what we are going through in that moment. Sometimes making us act totally out of character or unaligned with good moral values.
So, when we start the healing process and we have wounding with regards to relationships for example, we might start showing signs of jealousy, distrust, infidelity, resentment etc without any logical explanation for these feelings in relation to the current situation. We then start acting on these emotions and start harming our relationship. These are the shadow aspects of our relationships, drawing our attention to the wound that is calling out to be healed. This wound could have been caused by a past relationship where we have been abandoned, cheated on or manipulated and was never tended to when this relationship ended.
The intensity of the shadow and thus the difficulty or time needed to work with it will vary on the level of light you are working from. Again, let’s turn to our natural surroundings to understand this a bit better: When a light source is weak or rather far away, the shadow will seem very dull, sometimes not even totally visible and can easily be rendered invisible by shining more light on to it from a different angle – this is when we start our healing journey, peeling off the first layers of our wounding and patterns, with fairly “easy” healing. When the light source is closer and brighter, the shadow is denser and more clearly visible and more difficult to get rid of – as we work with more light, it will start opening us up to deeper aspects to heal. When the light source comes from a lower angle, the shadow appears long and stretched out and equal to the opposite, from a higher angle, the shadow will appear shorter and smaller – these relate to the level of understanding and consciousness you work from. If the light source is very close, the shadow will be much, much bigger than the object itself – this is when you start working with much higher levels of light and start shifting much deeper wounding or patterns.
When we become aware of a shadow aspect, we need to approach it with love and compassion, for ourselves, so that we may understand which part of us is standing out now, casting this shadow. This way we can draw the light in on this aspect, healing it and loving it, and integrating it. Consciously working with ourselves so that when the shadow arises, we can be aware of it and decide to not act on it but instead work with it.
It is important to note here that shadows (mostly) come from our sub-conscious mind, which is why it is so tricky to work with them. That is why conscious awareness of ourselves are so important; knowing ourselves intimately so that when shadow emotions/actions come up we can notice them immediately (or before they cause havoc at least). Then the conversing can start; talking to this shadow and digging in to the sub-conscious to see what wound the light is shining on to heal.
Shadows are also personal and specific to each person. A shadow of jealousy for example, can stem for one person from a cheating partner in a past relationship and for another it can come from their childhood, having felt the need to compete with siblings for attention from their parents. So, there is no set method where we can apply the same process to different people for the same shadow emotion or action that they manifest.
This is what it means to work with your shadow. Understanding that you will cast a shadow if you seek Light in your life and then being open and honest with yourself when a shadow is cast. To see the source it is coming from, heal and integrate the wound so that its shadow will no longer be cast, but instead become part of your being as wisdom and power to propel you forward on your path of soul evolution. It is not about “integrating your shadow” but instead integrating what is causing the shadow. Seeing the shadow as a teacher instead of an enemy. Knowing that this process will continue, always, until you yourself become integrated into the Ultimate Light.
A shadow emotion or action is any emotion or action that is heavy, dense, and out of good character. They can include but are not limited to hatred, jealousy, anger, malice, vindictiveness, depression, absent-mindedness, aloofness, narcissism, obsession, addiction, procrastination, self-harm, gossiping, and the list can go on for pages and pages. You get the idea. However, these heavy emotions are not always caused by a shadow/wound as we are still human and have a full spectrum of emotions that can be triggered in our day to day lives, but still remaining aware of yourself, you will be able to navigate these emotions and situations better so that they do not end up becoming shadows.
This is an edited version of the a piece originally posted on life108.net in 2019 when I was writing for this beautiful blog space. Check it out, loads of amazing insights there!