The Shadow Self

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to:

(1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative, or

(2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem).

You’ll find a lot of spiritual teachings that discuss acknowledging the shadow self and embracing it – it’s sort of the idea behind a lot of eastern religions (creating balance, yin and yang) and native spirituality. We tend to look at those concepts in more black and white/Abrahamic terms as “good and bad”, and comprehend this as every person has good and bad things within them, but I don’t feel that’s entirely what this is about.

I think it’s more like – we all have things about ourselves that we believe are “bad.” Things that we would judge ourselves for, or things that we would never want to acknowledge about ourselves. But they aren’t things that are inherently bad or evil, they’re just emotions. Things like jealousy, envy, greed, etc. We all experience those things, but we shouldn’t hide from them or shove them down in the nether regions of the subconscious. When you do that, they have the tendency to turn into actual monsters who get let out from time to time – when you’re triggered by something, when you drink, anything that might open the trap door.

Instead of resisting those things, perhaps we should focus more on accepting them, that they are a part of us and we experience them from time to time, but we balance them out with more noble qualities.


Coming to terms with our shadow self is an important part of re-integrating those aspects of ourselves that we fear, and coming to the realization that they aren’t as scary as we made them out to be.

Have you hugged your shadow self today?



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