Many people think they know themselves. They have an image of themselves in their mind they are sure is correct. There is a big problem with that.
Most of how people see themselves is based on indirect and direct information they have absorbed throughout their lives. They do things and that goes into their view of themselves. People say things and that also goes into developing their view of themselves. There is much more indirect information people receive, which is how they react to things they perceive, that also develops their self-view.
People are much deeper than that. There is the outward image we cling to. We reject anything that doesn’t fit into that view. That view of ourselves doesn’t take into account who we are deep down. This is known as our shadow selves.
The idea of a shadow self goes further. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that mankind is not as good as he thinks he is or wants to be. He explains that the shadow self becomes blacker and dense the more our shadow self is excluded from our everyday life. In other words, the less aware we are of it, the darker it becomes.
This makes sense when you apply the idea to psychological situations. People commit suicide without anyone being able to explain why. Some people turn violent or psychotic when they seemingly were “the nice, quiet” person who lived across the hall. These people had incredibly dark sides that no one knew about.
A shadow self is like an unattended wound. The longer it is allowed to fester, the worse it becomes.
How Do You Deal With Your Shadow Self?
So, what is a person to do? The answer is a simple one. Bring light into the situation. According to Jung, that means for people to confront their shadow selves, look at them and deal with them.
There may be some dark energies that need to be resolved. It may be some childhood hurt or even deep-rooted guilt or trauma. Once those are resolved, you must commit to accepting your shadow self even though some of that part of you isn’t the most favorable.
How to Accept Your Shadow Self
First, you have to figure out what all is a part of your shadow self. Here is how to do it:
- List five of your positive qualities.
- Now describe the opposite of that quality.
- Visualize the person that has the five negative qualities. This is your shadow self.
What Happens When I Acknowledge My Shadow Self?
The biggest change that occurs is that you are now aware of all the negatives of your shadow self so you can deal with them as they pop up. You can accept that this is also part of you but it doesn’t have to control you. You can notice things like anger, lust, greed, and fear along with your positive qualities like love, caring, and courage. By acknowledging all of it, we realize that we are human. We are flawed.
Then, and only then, can we decide which part of us is going to control our actions. That makes us better people over time because we are constantly deciding to do better.
It can be difficult to acknowledge all the negative aspects of our hearts and souls. However, this is what true faith is about. Christianity, and most major religions, talk about people are generally bad if left to their own desires. However, putting love above all, repenting of our negative failings, and deciding to follow God’s way is the way of faith.