Our shadow aspects can feel like they take on a life of their own -- they can be the cause of our lashing out at a loved one, being defensive, existing in a victim state, feeling jealous, really, our shadow gets a lot of the blame for our more negative emotions. And try as we may to "positive thoughts" our way out of a negative mind state, there is no escaping our shadow.
Our shadow aspects are generally subconscious. They're like a vindictive puppet master pulling our strings at the wrong time. But we are not powerless against ourselves. In fact, our shadow aspects are our allies in disguise.
Our darkest fears are our brightest guiding lights
We are each and all born whole and complete. Over time we learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Our cultures contribute, our families, friends, teachers, even the stranger on the street has the power to change how we see ourselves. When we feel shame about who we are we tuck that shameful piece away, shoving it into the shadows, hidden where it can't be seen and can no longer cause us to feel embarrassed or rejected.
The boy who loved pink got teased for liking a girl's color.
The girl who played in the dirt was scolded for getting dirty.
But those parts of us we try to hide are still parts of us that make us whole. And they don't like being tossed aside. They don't like being told they're shameful. They want to be a part of the whole again. And so they find ways to lash out. The boy shamed for liking pink now teases others outside of the status quo. The girl who enjoyed playing in the dirt shoves her carefree sister to the ground.
Our shadow parts are nuanced and not always so obvious.
Curious what your shadow aspects may be? One of the easiest ways to start noticing is to look at the traits you see in others (especially your partner, but that's a whole other post). Do you have a strong reaction when someone cuts you off in traffic? What about when a friend shares a recent success -- do you feel happy for them, or a little jealous? Jealousy is a big clue about shadow aspects. Look for your strong reactions, reactions which may be a bit stronger than expected.
The beauty of our darkness is that it points in the direction of what we are missing and how we can work our way back to wholeness. Our shadow parts are our allies because they're a part of us, but they're like a tired toddler and can be destructive to get our attention. The larger the shadow aspect, the greater ally it represents.
Integrating our shadows is one of the greatest forms of personal work we can do. In doing this work we open many doors we'd been holding closed against ourselves. Our lives have the ability to blossom and flourish with relative ease when we're able to stop sabotaging ourselves.