Do you ever feel like there’s another side of you that you keep hidden from the world? A side that is darker, more obscure, and more primal? This is your Shadow. The part of you that you try to suppress because it’s either scary, embarrassing, or simply too much for other people to handle. In this blog post, we will explore the dark side of your personality, how to identify it, and what it means for your overall wellbeing.
1. What is the dark side of your personality and what does it mean for you?
The dark side of your personality or Shadow is the part of you that you try to hide from yourself and others. It includes all the aspects of yourself that you are uncomfortable with or that make you feel bad about yourself. Your shadow can have expressions that may be harmful to your relationships and your overall wellbeing. One thing to emphasize is that the shadow isn’t evil – it’s more so an unconscious and underdeveloped aspect of your personality. The Shadow is a concept coined by Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology. Your Shadow is expressed when you are uncomfortable, low on energy, or under the influence. You may recall times when you weren’t acting like your normal self. This is because when your energy is low it becomes harder to manage your uncomfortable emotions. The main objective when it comes to the dark side of your personality is to bring it into your conscious life in a healthy and mature way. How to do this is explained later in this blog.
2. How can you identify the signs that you’re in the Shadow?
Some common signs that you may be in the Shadow are: projecting your dislikes as something wrong or immoral in someone else, feeling like you’re not good enough, being impulsive, and experiencing tension about people who are different than you. If you find yourself frequently experiencing discomfort such as this you may be in the Shadow. Negative triggers are the most common ways to get into the shadow. When we are constantly outside of our comfort zones we may observe that our expressions shift and we act out of character. This is your clear signal that there is more to learn about yourself.
One way to start exploring your shadow is through reflective journaling. I recommend one activity to my members in the EQ Crew that is a proven technique for bringing to light the Shadow. Take 5 minutes to write down everything you don’t like in other people. Then take the next 5 minutes to write down the emotions you associate with those dislikes. This reveals to you areas of yourself you still need to work on because discomforting emotions are an indication that the meaning you’ve made out of the experience, person, or thing is still not fully processed or understood.
3. What are the dangers of not acknowledging your dark side?
If you don’t acknowledge your Shadow, you run the risk of having it run your life. Your dark side is made up of all the parts of yourself that you’re not proud of, and it can be incredibly difficult to keep these aspects hidden from yourself and others. When you’re not aware of your dark side, it can lead to you being rigid, intemperate, and just not fun to be around. It is speculated that those who have not done shadow work and integrated this side of themselves are more likely to traumatize others. Consider a parent that hasn’t done this work – their children likely experience the projections, the impulsiveness, the criticism, the doubt which can truncate the development of a child.
4. How can you learn to accept and embrace all aspects of yourself, including your dark side?
To begin this process of integrating your shadow I recommend getting a coach and community to support you through the process. It is challenging to do alone so consider becoming a member of the EQ Crew to kick start your journey. In the case that you are doing it alone, the first step is to expose yourself to the contents of your Shadow. For example, your Shadow could deal with social anxiety and this anxiety stems from being conditioned at a young age to act a particular way in society and to avoid making others uncomfortable. The exposure process can look like practicing meeting new people and respectfully challenging a friend’s thought process. If you did not undertake this exposure process, your social anxiety will continue showing up as being self-limiting, shy, and non-confrontational which can lead to tension building up over time and then erupting. By practicing shadow work in this way over time you will begin to integrate repressed aspects of your personality into your daily life. The outcome is you become well-rounded, expand your relationships, and learn to navigate conflict.
We have now discussed the importance of shadow work in order to become a well-rounded individual. Shadow work is the process of exposing yourself to new people and situations, in order to learn more about yourself. This can be difficult, but it is necessary in order to grow and improve your relationships. By practicing shadow work, you will become more whole and reduce the risk of living a one-sided life.