Understanding Shadow Work: Pt. I
What is the Shadow?
The Shadow (or Shadow-Self), as I will refer to it, is comprised of the aspects of ourselves that we often try to hide or deny. It is a mental complex, as defined by Carl Jung, to contain all of those aspects of the personality that have been rejected by the Ego– pushed down into our subconscious (namely during childhood) as part of our coping strategies.
In brief, Jung defines the Ego as the focal point of personal consciousness– the aspects of ourselves that we readily acknowledge and identify with. Generally, all of the characteristics, thoughts, feelings, urges and tendencies within us that we shun and/or condemn– typically with moral indignation– usually comprise the Shadow.
Not to cause confusion, but it should be stated that the Shadow-Self can possess both negative and positive qualities. The parts we condemn and deny or otherwise find objectionable are the “negative” aspects, whereas the parts that reflect what we envy and admire in others (long for) are considered the “positive” aspects.
When the Shadow remains buried in our subconscious, it tends to repeatedly manifest some very serious repercussions– perpetuating a vicious, unconscious cycle of thought patterns, emotions, behaviors and decisions that typically do not serve (and often hinder) our spiritual evolution and/or general well-being. Hence the importance of shadow work.