09. The shadow self

Living in illusion

In my last blog about self-worth, I referenced the shadow self. I have read and explored much on this subject and I have been given many perspectives on what our shadow is. Much of what I was initially told about shadow was coloured by the perspective of the person imparting the information. This person happened to be a very wounded soul who hadn’t done much work in reclaiming her own value, and as such her interpretation was at best skewed, and at worst, completely misleading. This led to me wandering for many years believing that my shadow side contained the elements of my own inner axe-murderer and was to be suppressed and denied at all costs. I no longer blindly believe everything I am told and prefer to research and decide for myself what I choose to believe. I would therefore like to offer you my personal understanding of the shadow self now that I have had the opportunity to explore it more fully.

Our shadow self is an incredibly important and valuable aspect of self. Until we unpack it, make our peace with what we find there, and embrace the full spectrum of ourselves, we can never be completely whole.

I would like to insert a rather interesting quantum fact here that you may or may not resonate with. As each human being has a unique and specific fingerprint, so each soul has a unique and specific colour imprint or identity. It is not possible within the limitations of the human capacity to perceive this, but on a cosmic level, souls are uniquely identified by their specific colour signatures. Having parts of our self in shadow distorts our colour resonance and reduces our frequency or resonance. Since we seek enlightenment through the human experience, it is reasonable to conclude that in order to attain that enlightenment we need to step out from, light up, or fully embrace our shadow.

How do we get a shadow self and how does it operate? Carl Jung the founder of analytical psychology, first introduced the concept of a shadow self thus:

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge. Carl Jung, Aion (1951)

Well, reading that I can understand how my wounded teacher misread the concept and taught me that everything that was bad about me was locked up in my shadow and I should make every effort to keep it that way.

I have come to understand through years of learning and personal journey work, that our shadow side holds the experiences in life that we were not able to understand and process, or that perhaps made us feel unsafe. Any aspects of ourselves that we were taught, or learned (albeit erroneously), that made us feel unacceptable to those we sought approval from, reside here as well. Everything in the shadow is not bad as I was initially led to believe. Some of the very finest aspects of ourselves can be stored in our shadow. As a child I was taught by my mentally ill mother that I needed to be as invisible as possible in order to be acceptable, or at least tolerated in my family dynamic. I therefore learned to suppress any aspects of free will, joy, and spontaneity. Since energy cannot be destroyed, and I was unwilling to own those aspects of myself, because to do so got me into big trouble, those parts of me were stored in my shadow. They stayed there waiting for me to reclaim myself through enquiry, introspection, understanding and finally, acceptance, thereby transmuting them back into the light, or my conscious reality.

If something happens to us that is too painful to process, such as a sudden unexpected tragedy, or a violation of ourselves, we likewise can store these experiences in our shadow. This allows us to continue our lives without carrying a huge burden that feels like it could overwhelm us. I would like to share with you the story of a gentleman I worked with during my years studying Inner Tuition. We were looking at the wounded inner child and as I began to scan his body’s energy field, I was transported in my mind to a kitchen. I had no idea where I was, but there was a little boy wearing a cowboy hat sitting on the floor playing with a puppy. I observed this happy little scene quietly. An adult male entered the kitchen. He was drunk and shouting abuse and the little boy grabbed his puppy and clutched it to him protectively. The wretched man was hurling abuse at the small child and was taunting him that, “Cowboys don’t cry!” The little chap was by then sobbing in fear. The man grabbed the puppy and wrung its neck! He threw the limp little body down on the floor next to the child and left shouting, “Cry about that you big baby!”

When I tentatively said to the client, “cowboys don’t cry”, he broke down completely. He explained to me that his father was an alcoholic. He grew up being mocked by him for being a gentle, sensitive child, and he frequently found himself being the target for his father’s drunken rages. His dad had killed his puppy to punish him for crying. As a little boy unable to process or understand such violence and abuse, and with no way to escape his persecutor, he had locked that memory up tight in his shadow, he schooled himself not to cry, and he proceeded to live as quietly as he could so as not to incur his father’s wrath. He had buried that memory in his shadow and had plastered over it so successfully that he had forgotten all about it. We understand that energy can never be destroyed, and once something has happened it can never unhappen or be made to disappear. Since he was developmentally unable to process his abuse and transmute it to understanding, he had unknowingly committed that experience to his shadow. There it was kept safely stored away, waiting for the day when he had the desire/motivation, resources, strength, and courage to go back and look at it. With adult perspective he could hopefully make his peace with what had happened and transmute it to understanding, back out of shadow.

Albeit a very efficient coping mechanism for a young child faced with such horror, fast forward to adulthood, and he was, as a father himself, locked in a battle with his six-year-old son. The child was desperate for a puppy and without knowing why, dad was ardently opposed to it. The son was beginning to withdraw from him and as a parent, he was feeling stuck. This had motivated him to seek help. By going back with an adult’s understanding of his father’s alcoholism, he was able to transmute that horrible experience out of his shadow into the light. Seeing things in the light can often lessen the fear and the anxiety attached to these hidden memories, and with adult perspective one can see them with more clarity. This helps us reclaim our sense of personal power and take charge of the memory as opposed to being victim to it. In this case he found new information that he could use to make a different decision with his own child and to heal the breach between them.

Something else that is interesting to note, is that if you find something in another person that triggers a response in you, they are generally acting as an energetic mirror for something that you have stored in your shadow. I used to have an utter aversion to powerful people, leaders, those in authority. Through journey work I have been able to reclaim my own sense of personal power and having transmuted it out of my shadow, I am no longer triggered by such people. I do, however, remain vulnerable and triggered by bullies and bigots and this is simply an indication to me that I have some unhealed wounds in this regard. Your shadow truly is your best friend. It supports you when you cannot support yourself and it holds the completeness of you when you are unable to be fully and wholly yourself through circumstance, decree or indeed, ignorance.

Examining one’s shadow is tantamount to opening Pandora’s box. You are bound to unearth a whole mess of crap inside, but once you clear away the debris and detritus of your life’s experiences, you may also find some wonderful gems about yourself that you were never able to embrace before, because you unknowingly learned along the way that you were unworthy, not enough, too much, conditional or limited somehow. You took your magnificence and you hid it in your shadow waiting for the day when you were brave enough, to be vulnerable enough, to look under the rocks of your life. You can then let the light in, and your authentic self out.

Since we are here seeking enlightenment through the human experience, it is reasonable to deduce that by shining some light on those aspects of ourselves that are hidden in the shadows of our psyche, we can begin to return to our full light signature or potential and can shine like the unique and incredible souls that we are in our full magnificence and resonance. Now that is what I call an awakening.

As always, I offer you my understanding of things. I encourage you at all times to question and decide for yourself what you want to accept and onboard. I’m always interested to hear your opinions and I encourage feedback. However, it is essential to understand this vital truth as we journey together:

We don’t have to agree on a single thing to be kind to one another.

So, disagree with me by all means, own your different perspective, but please remain respectful of other’s beliefs and journeys.

Treat yourself with EMpathy,
and EMbolden yourself to dream.
EMerging from your learned way of being,
allows you to celebrate as you EMbrace your full potential.
EMancipating yourself from your limitations,
EMpowers you to live with greater clarity and joy!

Until next time when I shall discuss building a blueprint for your life, be kind to one another and honour yourself as the unique and incredibly special soul that you are

© Copyright 2020 – Janice Melmed

Published by Janice Melmed

Author & energy intuitive

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