Welcome to Your Shadow Side

Nicky Davies
Carl Jung talked about our shadow side or disowned self. The more we try and disown our shadow side and put a front on to the rest of the world of being just ‘good’ if you like, the more likely we are to experience an ‘unconscious snag’ as Carl Jung called it.

Think of it as self-sabotage or self-destructive behaviour. In other words, the shadow has the capacity to override our conscious mind and take possession of our being, exerting control over our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. When this happens, we can be unconsciously driven into hard times, all the while remaining ignorant that these troubled periods were self-imposed, and not the product of bad luck or fate.

And this is exactly what happened to the golfer Tiger Woods and countless others in the public eye, when fans put them on a pedestal and become infatuated with them, seeing them as much better than they, the fans are themselves. And that’s when the celebrity can’t suppress that shadow side of themselves any more, and it brings them back down to the imperfect human being they truly are.
Our task in life is not to become perfect, but to become whole

Our minds really work best when in equanimity; where we are being authentic – a balanced mind, and so our shadow side comes out bigger and stronger to provide an experience that puts us back into balance for our own good, painful though it may be at the time!

We even have a saying that points to this very fact – pride comes before a fall.

In order to avoid being the victim of ‘shadow possession’, we need to become conscious of our shadow qualities and integrate them into our conscious personality, accepting that they are a necessary and vital part of our being.

Our task in life is not to become perfect, but to become whole.

In fact, you may not even be aware that you are suppressing your shadow side. But your thinking, emotions and behaviour is giving you this feedback every minute of the day.

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone and it irritated the hell out of you?

Chances are that that very behaviour is something you have disowned for yourself.

But the shadow side or disowned parts are not just destructive aspects of the personality. They can be potent, creative and powerful capabilities too. When we were growing up, certain traits and impulses were condemned by our family, peers and educators, sometimes out of envy, fear, ignorance or jealousy.
I can remember being about 12 or 13 when frequently in class I would be told to stop daydreaming when it came to our English lessons. I just found the stories I made up in my own mind more interesting than what we were being forced to study in the classroom. Anybody else had to study Cider with Rosie by author Laurie Lee as a text? It was all about childhood around the time of the first world war. I just didn’t find it particularly engaging or compelling reading for me.

Oddly enough, my Mum gave me a great classic that she was asked to read as part of her English Literature classes; The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. I loved it! But the English Literature exam was on Cider with Rosie, not the Canterbury Tales and needless to say, I flunked it.

Fortunately, it didn’t put me off reading fiction, but it did take me a while to accept that I can create engaging and compelling stories of my own.

You probably have your own memories of times when your talents, innate abilities and impulses were rejected and condemned as unacceptable or non-conformist, or whatever… In fact, many of us have been labelled as something undesirable, but that’s the very trait that has enabled us to be successful once we learned to love it again and fully embrace the positives with the negatives.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote and talked about how girls who early on demonstrate leadership qualities are often called ‘bossy’ whereas boys are more likely to be seen as confident leaders when they display the same or similar qualities.

I can remember being called ‘bossy boots’ on many occasions, and sometimes I was an absolute pain in the neck and flexing my leadership abilities in not such great ways! I learned a lot about what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
Our bodies are beautiful feedback mechanisms

What traits do you remember being discouraged or even condemned while you were growing up?

Maybe it’s time to reclaim them and truly own them; warts and all! They are a part of you, and if not fully owned will make themselves heard and it may even be through some physical ailment. Our bodies are beautiful feedback mechanisms operating 24 / 7. I’m sure you can remember times when your body came up with a headache to avoid a certain scenario at a particular time, or another, maybe more extreme example.

I was on a family call just yesterday and after about an hour I started to have earache! Yep, my body was telling me that I had had enough of playing the role of the dutiful daughter all peaches and cream. The shadow side of me wanted to get up and go out for a walk in the sunshine, but not wanting to appear selfish, I carried on with the call. And yes, the earache stopped once I got off the phone and stepped outside!

Interesting hey?!I worked with a Director of Finance who always seemed to come down with hiccups when we were in a Board meeting. Something in her thinking was clearly causing her stress for these Board meetings. I don’t remember her struggling with hiccups outside of these meetings.

So, it really is in our best interests to understand what’s driving our behaviour ‘behind the scenes’ and incorporate it into our conscious mind or conscious personality.
Owning our disowned parts and integrating these into our whole self

Carl Jung talked about the shadow being the doorway to our Self.

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) talks about owning our disowned parts and has various exercises for integrating these into our whole. Marissa Peer amongst many others uses hypnotherapy to bring these into the whole.

Having been trained in all of these methods, the one I favour is Dr John Demartini’s Method which also collapses the emotion and brings one back to the Transcendental Mind, equanimity in the moment. And it’s a method that can easily be used in the heat of the moment when a loved one’s behaviour for example, is irritating the hell out of you. And yes, I am talking from experience!

We all have these experiences, and the quicker we recognise a time and place when we exhibited the exact same trait or behaviour that is irritating us in the moment, the quicker we balance the equation and don’t get triggered.

Remember, our task in life is not to become perfect but to become whole. And this takes our performance to a whole new level too.

At the end of the day, every human being wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are, but how can you expect to be loved and appreciated for who you are, if you’re not willing to be who you are?
author bio

Nicky Davies

Trusted Business Mentor & Executive Coach Nicky is CEO of WAVA Global, developing inspired leaders in organisations around the world. Her love of sailing means that she spends 6 months of the year with her family on their sailboat in the Mediterranean.

Nicky also has a podcast, Developing Inspired Leaders, and can be contacted via LinkedIn or her website: www.nickyjdavies.com.
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