Embracing the Shadow

In graduate school, the first theorist that caught my attention was Carl Jung, mostly because of his concept of the “shadow”. In short, the shadow is the ever-present part of our personality that contradicts what we know to be true about ourselves. For example, I pride myself in being rational and differentiated, especially in high-stakes situations. However, according to the concept of the shadow, I also have a part of my personality that is irrational and reacts at the drop of a hat, even in situations that are seemingly unimportant. 

When I begin to embrace the fact that I can be irrational, I can begin to understand myself on a deeper level. I also come to understand others’ irrationality once I stop judging myself for my own. Talking about my irrationality brings up a lot of thoughts and feelings for me. What will people think? is the prominent thought, followed by, Does this mean I am a bad person?

The truth is, I am not bad for having a shadow. Next time you’re in the sun, look around you: you’ll find that everyone has a shadow! I see my shadow as my greatest teacher. My shadow is my mirror. My shadow reminds me that I still have work to do in my self-development. My shadow prompts me to not think of myself as so different from others, but, rather, uses others as a way to have a deeper understanding of myself.

I see embracing my shadow as a big part of my development as a human, which is where my practice began.