The Shadow Archetype Series:
Our journey of understanding the shadow of one’s personal consciousness has already taken us a long way.
From a simple grasp of the concept, we have transcended in looking at the whole process of how it is all coming together.
But the objective of this blog series truly lies in how to practically make use of one’s shadows and gain mastery over them.
For the journey to be complete, one must not only recognize the shadow. The previous articles talked strongly about recognizing shadows as a way to face the problem.
But that is only the first part. After gaining an illuminated standpoint, the shadow cannot be left in its own. For if you recall correctly, the process of creating, evading, manifesting, and facing one’s shadow is an endless process.
The only way to solve this is by integrating the shadow into one’s consciousness. Meaning, by not only recognizing the shadow but by accepting it, we become closer to the pinnacle of individual self-mastery.
But how do we integrate the shadow in to one’s consciousness? This section will expose how this can be possible and realistic.
Hopefully, by the end of the blogpost, we become more aware of our inner self and become at peace with the suppressed traits and tendencies within us.
Integrating one’s Shadow: Recognizing the shadow as an idea of the self
Aside from not being aware of our shadows, one problem of dealing with it is that when we finally get to recognize them as our negative tendencies, we let them take the driver’s seat.
Yes, one problem in dealing with shadows is when we actually let it take over our lives. Whether we like it or not, these shadows can make us and take us if we are not careful with them.
Knowing their existence but not doing anything about it can even actually amplify their power over us. As Jung mentioned, the blacker and denser the shadow is, the more it manifests itself.
The obvious conclusion, of course, is that when it is too much in control, the shadow can take over.
As a concrete example for this problem, consider for instance the case of someone who repeatedly falls in-love with the wrong person.
A classic story depicted even in the movies, there are some people that we know who keeps on falling in-love despite the fact that they already know what’s going to happen next.
For some bizarre reason that we could not make sense of, this person repeats the same mistakes and constantly changes partners from time to time.
And as we have seen it, the way they love is like going to the casino – thoughtlessly going all-in and staking everything.
That person may be the most caring, loving, and selfless person that we can think of, and yet we wonder why this person keeps on being broken hearted from time-to-time.
And so, with proper reflection and self-introspection, this person came to the conclusion that the shadow from within resents loving one’s self and giving everything to the other as the only way to live life.
The story goes on, this person still continues loving and changing partners every several months.
But then, we ask, why does she still continue to live in this cycle of being used and abused every single time by different persons?
While we can never truly give a comprehensive answer to the question given that each individual has different psychological upbringings, we can at least make the assumption that part of the reason why such is the case is because she failed to integrate with her shadow.
But before we jump to this conclusion, let us review first why such is the case.
At some point, once in your life, you were able to counsel a similar friend who is undergoing a problem of some sort.
And yet, even after countless hours of spending time with them at your favorite coffee shop, talking about the same recurring problem, your friend still makes the same mistakes over and over again.
Why? Why does he or she keep on repeating the same mistake when they supposedly have already understood the problem caused by their shadow? Simple – because they let the shadow take over each and every time.
Think of it this way, why would people self-sabotage certain opportunities in their life? Like when they have the chance to actually break-free from this toxic cycle, they keep going back to it? Why would people actually do something that can harm their own interests?
When people lack control, things go out-of-hand.
When people fail to exercise mastery over one’s self, they end up being manipulated by others.
When people fail to not only acknowledge but also maneuver with their shadows, they end up being controlled by it.
The friend you know who keeps on self-sabotaging his/her life is a prime example.
Whether it be in life, love, or anything else, the same principle remains – they self-sabotage because they lack control of themselves.
Yes, you guessed it right, one popular way to lose control of one’s self is to allow the shadow to take over.
In my previous example, we can see that people allow bad things to happen because of this notion that “maybe I am like this after all”, that “life just goes this way”.
The same is true for people who are not accustomed to success. Sometimes, even when the right opportunities are handed over to people, they still remain very much unsuccessful because somewhere, somehow, they screw up.
People lose control and dismiss themselves to this idea that maybe they can never surpass their challenges after all or that they are destined to be poor and unsuccessful.
They even further hurt themselves by saying that they did what was right and that it was not their fault and things just didn’t go their way.
One problem of self-sabotaging is that the enemy is from within.
It is us who has brought about the trojan horse which will conquer ourselves. Our shadows are ideas of ourselves, closely hidden beneath the wood engulfing the trojan horse.
This is a common way of drifting and losing ground. People leave the decision-making process to their shadows and comfort themselves with the perception that they are not the ones to be blamed for doing what they think is right.
But when asked, they are unable to account for their own decisions. They cannot point to a reason why, but we all know that they knew why. They already faced their shadows and yet allowed it to control them.
Going back, we ask – how then do we properly confront these shadows? It is clear that acknowledging them is not enough.
Rather, the proper way to move forward is as this article suggests – viewing the shadow merely as an idea of the self. Just as in the example of the trojan horse, the way to defeat the enemy is from within – by regaining control of one’s self.
While we perceive the problem as a complex and unsolvable one, the solution is simply to look at oneself and realize that the shadow is merely an idea.
By viewing the shadow as merely an idea of the self, one is able to go above and beyond it.
Like the example of the wall that was given previously, seeing your shadow as an idea of oneself allows you to compartmentalize your entire being.
This is crucial because in understanding the shadow, you see it only as a fragment of who you are instead of seeing it as the entirety of your existence.
By this method, you begin to accept that the shadow is nothing more than an idea, despite the fact that it says something true about you.
Seeing the shadow in this way will restore your control of yourself as you uplift consciousness above the shadow.
But more importantly, the integration process happens as you are now able to perceive the shadow as one of the aspects of yourself that you can make use of when need be.
As the example that I have given above, knowing your gambling tendencies can lead you to realize your risk profile and make better decisions in life.
Integrating the shadow into one’s self allows the person to become more aware of everything that is going in in his/her life.
Thus, instead of seeing the shadow as the driver of one’s life, a person can now view it instead as one of its passengers.
If life was a school bus, the shadow is one of your grade school students. Instead of letting that grade school student drive, you restore authority and control over oneself. This doesn’t mean that you are throwing away the shadow, but rather that you recognize and integrate its skills and talents in your conscious decision-making process.
Integrating One’s Shadow: Shadow Work
As Carl Jung sprung this whole discussion, complexity, and awareness about the shadow, numerous psychologists and psycho-spiritualists have talked about the topic.
If you were to do an in-depth research online, you would see that there are many different ways to deal with the shadow, as presented by various authorities.
The goal, however, of this section is not to talk about the practical and fixed methods of shadow work. Rather, it is to give you an overview of what shadow work is and what are the basic principles behind it.
What is shadow work? The previous method of integration has already begun in shedding light to our understanding of this whole process.
Building from that, shadow work is the practical process of going into deep reflection about one’s self, making the individual aware of the shadows that are within him – whether it be positive or negative.
Usually, shadow work begins with entering a meditation-like state. This allows the person to temporarily shift his/her attention to the daily busy schedule of the modern world into the deepest aspects of one’s self.
In some cases, wherein shadow work involves spiritual methods, they enter realms of the mind and open gateways. But in more of psychological approaches, people can utilize guided counseling.
Karen Horney, one of the most renowned psychologists in human history, even suggested the process of self-analysis where the individual will become both the patient and analyst at the same time.
What this tells us are two simple things. First, that in order to do shadow work, one must be open.
We sometimes underestimate this power of openness because we think that the conscious self is always in control.
By perceiving that we are in control of ourselves even when we’re not, the more we close our doors to other aspects of the self, such as the shadow.
And to add to that, opening ourselves to these aspects is not easy just as it requires courage to admit that one has a mental problem.
Doing shadow work may not be socially acceptable for some cultures or perspectives possibly like those who view Christ as the only answer. This is the reason why sometimes, people fail to face their shadows – the stigma created by society to people who admit and face their problems.
The second thing to take note of in doing shadow work is that it is essentially a conversation with the other.
If we observe all the methodologies applied in shadow work, we can see that it is common among them that there is the recognition of the other – whether it be your life coach, psychologist, spiritualist, or even your own self.
In Horney’s theory, she pointed out that self-analysis is basically the act of being the doer and recipient of shadow work. We converse with the other, which particularly in this case, is the aspect of ourselves.
We kind of have an inner conversation with ourselves in order to resolve internal conflict. Even in other methods which includes a third party like the life coach or spiritual guide, it is still a conversation with oneself because they act to merely guide you.
In fact, even when one needs a guide in this journey, that person is only a medium for you still engage and confront with the aspects of yourself.
Aside from such methodologies, it can also be pointed out that the common occurrence in shadow work is the recognition of the positive and negative shadows.
Meaning, when we view our shadows, it doesn’t automatically mean that they are negative because some traits are good even when we repress them. In the same way, things we repress are also not automatically a resource for it may be wrong as well.
Being able to concretely identify these traits allows us to sort which ones to integrate, and which ones to simply acknowledge. This is crucial because some traits that are repressed in the shadow can be violent and destructive.
For instance, some people grew up with histories of abuse and violence. Whether we like it or not, such upbringing can and will affect the way we perceive what is right or wrong.
They may repress these traits as they were hurt during their childhood but there’s that possibility that these traits will surface later on. This is an example of a negative tendency or trait that must not be allowed to resurface.
In the real process of integrating the shadow to one’s self, these purely negative traits will be acknowledged but not necessarily actualized. Meaning to say, in the integration process, one does not need to put into action everything.
Rather, one may recognize it, see it as a negative tendency, and consciously take control. In the example given above, being abused doesn’t mean that one will necessarily become an abuser someday.
In fact, some people help the abused because they know the feeling of being there just as the poor can empathize with others in a more special way.
By doing shadow work, we recognize that our shadows are merely ideas of ourselves and that we can actually take control of them without necessarily putting them to practice.
Integrating One’s Shadow: Habitual Self-Reflection
The last section of this article will tackle how one will be able to maintain a healthy psycho-spiritual existence.
The entirety of this article series has made us realize that as long as there is light, we cannot escape the shadow. If light were to refer to the judgments that we make, shadows are the natural consequences of these judgments.
By preferring one thing over the other, we resent or repress another. These notions affect our judgments of ourselves and other people.
By being aware of them, we can possibly take control, either by harnessing their positive potentialities or navigating their negative tendencies.
It is crucial to address these shadows for they will inevitably affect the way we live.
Meaning to say, shadows may affect the way we communicate with other people on top of affecting how we perceive ourselves.
As a quick summary, our experience can be filtered by these shadows, just as our judgments can be maligned or distorted. But how do we deal with them if we can’t escape nor avoid them?
If one were to do shadow work but eventually fall back to the wrong and negative practices in life, then what’s the point of everything in this article? In order to have a progressive experience with one’s shadow, one must consider the process of habitually examining one’s self.
This constant introspection can allow the person to consistently examine the push-pull nature of dealing with shadows.
But what is this habitual self-introspection? This is the act of consistently evaluating oneself and one’s judgments.
This is very important because as I have emphasized throughout this article, having a shadow is a natural consequence of making choices.
In other words, when the individual keeps on making choices, there is the possibility of becoming less and less aware of how those choices are made.
This is particularly true when people go to the grocery store.
Some, or even most, people will purchase things that they don’t really need in their household.
They buy ingredients for the kitchen that they won’t really consume (like people buying a wide range of ingredients for authentic curry masala and end up not cooking it).
And so, when they go home, the partner (this term in order to avoid sexism) will be whining about the random purchases made.
If only they were equipped with the tools of habitual introspection, they would be able to return the grocery items before it is paid for – just as when a person removes some items from the cart before paying in the counter.
By exercising one’s consciousness, there is a lesser probability that the shadow will randomly hijack one’s persona.
This means that while the shadow does not have a pattern in manifesting itself, allowing it to consistently grow unnoticed will lead to more instances of it manifesting.
Consistent exercise of self-consciousness no different from showing up daily in the gym – the more you show up, the higher the probability that you reinforce that image about yourself.
When people actually go to the gym, it empowers the idea that they can do it and they can make it.
Inversely, people who don’t go to the gym silently comforts themselves that it is okay and acceptable.
But before we know it, our beer bellies have already stacked and we realize that it is too late. This will only worsen the problem and empower a negative idea about ourselves – that I tried and I won’t make it.
People who are more aware about themselves and their tendencies have this constant and instinctive conversation with themselves, allowing them to evaluate most of the decisions they make in life.
When they go to the grocery store, they see items that they like but won’t even place it in their carts. This saves them time, money, and more importantly, it develops the habit of evaluating their choices.
By doing such, they feel more control and mastery over themselves, leading them to a more fulfilled experience of life in general.
To conclude, we have to accept that the shadow is a part of us. We don’t have to consider it as an enemy but as a natural part of ourselves.
By doing so, we get to harness its potentialities and avoid its dangers.
When we look at ourselves at the mirror, we don’t anymore have to blame ourselves for falling for the wrong person again or buying the unnecessary stuff in the grocery store.
Having a higher level of understanding about our shadows will bring more fulfillment in our lives, bringing clarity and purpose.
Our perspective about the world expands and we become more accepting about life. Just as when we can’t achieve everything in life, it doesn’t mean that we stop trying. Not being able to fully understand ourselves should not stop us from bearing these shadows.
The man who pursues greatness shall be worthy of it, just as the best and the brightest in the world never competes with other people but only with themselves.
Want to know more about the shadows?
These sections of the blog only cover the conceptual analysis about the shadow archetype of ourselves. In the succeeding articles, we will see practical ways of dealing with the shadows.
It will suggest practical ways in everyday life like meditation and chakra reading. Understanding how we can concretely spot and analyze them will give us a better idea not only about ourselves and but also the people around us.
This will lead to better success in the workplace, improved relationship with family and friends, and more resilient perspective regarding things that are out of your control.
And to add even more, we will also be covering how the shadow is present in the different archetypes!
Considering that different archetypes have varying qualities, it only means that we have different shadow tendencies as well!
As our conscious individual states follow the mould of our archetype, what we resent or suppress in ourselves are inversely reflected on it.
In order to have true and deeper understanding of our self, we need not only to understand our archetype but also its weaknesses.
This will allow you to have a better idea of not only yourself but also people around you, given of course that you know their archetype.