People are rarely who they seem to be. Lurking beneath their polite, affable exterior is inevitably a dark, shadow side consisting of the insecurities and the aggressive, selfish impulses they repress and carefully conceal from public view. This dark side leaks out in behavior that will baffle and harm us. We should learn to recognize the signs of the Shadow before they become toxic. We must become aware of our own dark side. In being counscious of it we can control and channel the creative energies that lurk in our uncounscious. By integrating the dark side into our personality, we will be a more complete human and will radiate an authenticity that will draw people to us.
Once people hear about the shadow, the dark side of human nature, almost no one denies that it exists. Every life has been touched by anger and fear. We just have to watch the evening news exposing human nature at its worst. If we are honest with ourselves, dark impulses are free to roam our minds at will, and the price we pay for being a good person – something we all aspire to – is that the bad person who might ruin everything must be kept under wraps. As soon as people acknowledge that they have it, they want to be rid of it. Even though there are many aspects of life, a can do, let’s -fix-it attitude works, unfortunately the shadow is not one of them.
The Shadow consists of all the qualities people try to deny about themselves and repress. This repression is so deep and effective that people are generally unaware of their Shadow; it operates unconsciously. The Shadow lies buried deep within, but it becomes disturbed and active in moments of stress, or when deep wounds and insecurities are triggered. It also tends to emerge more as people get older. Also it will spring into action in times of fear, pain, or conflict or when we are just going about our business in autopilot. The shadow is made up of the thoughts, emotions, and impulses that we find too painful, embarrassing, or distasteful to accept. So instead of dealing with them, we repress them. As the poet and author Robert Bly describes that the shadow as an invisible bag that each of us carries around on our back. As we are growing up, we put in the bag every aspect of ourselves that is not acceptable to our families and friends. He believes we spend the first few decades of our life filling up our bag, and then the rest of our life trying to retrieve everything we have hidden away.
Any thought not filled with love is an invitation for the shadow to enter and we manufacture fear. What that means is that we have split minds. One part of us dwells in the light, eternally at one with God’s love. Yet another part of us – a part most often aligned with mortal world – dwells in darkness. And that is the shadow self. The battle with our dark side will never be won through hatred and repression; we can’t fight darkness with darkness. We have to find compassion and embrace the darkness inside us in order to understand it and, ultimately, to transcend it. If we embrace the qualities that disturb us in others, we will no longer be upset by them. It is only when we are lying to ourselves or hating some aspect of ourselves that we become emotionally charged from someone else’s behavior. When we don’t deal with our shadow, it will negatively affect our relationships. Heroes are only as strong as their villains.