Mastering the Shadow Self

391695_421141664614726_1141497798_nOne of the greatest challenges we face in the human experience is love for one’s self. How can we love ourselves when we see how much darkness can exist within us? The greatest illusion we buy into is how we think no one else can carry the same or greater darkness. We may have a tendency to paint an ideal yet unrealistic image of people we meet and as a result judge ourselves even more, but think about how many people might be fighting the same battles.

It’s not enough we have to reclaim our self worth in a society that reinforces the idea we are only as valuable as the material things we achieve or possess.

This inner conflict we have in what Carl Jung would refer to as the “collective unconscious” is reflected in the outside world through wars, environmental disasters, and other atrocities. Most, if not all of it, stems from a individual level; a lack of self love and an unwillingness to face our own darkness (the unconscious part of ourselves, commonly referred to as the shadow self.)

By acknowledging the dark aspects in ourselves

with love, acceptance, and understanding, we are able to move more in alignment with our authentic self.

Relationships can help us see we are not alone in the challenges we face. As we pierce through our partner’s veil through loving and understanding them deeply, we find they too carry a darkness they may have chosen not to look at.

It’s when we are not aware of our darkness we can feel powerless against our emotional reactions or other automatic responses that hold us up in relationships and prevent individual growth and transformation.

In “The Power of Myth,” Joseph Campbell writes:

“Your life is much deeper and broader than you conceive it to be here. What you are living is but a fractional inkling of what is really within you, what gives you life, breadth, and depth. But you can live in terms of your depth. And when you can experience it, you suddenly see that all the religions are talking of that.”

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”

The hero’s journey requires that you answer the call, to take the plunge into the depths of your unconscious and conquer the dragons that horde the treasure you seek.


The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.” ~Oprah Winfrey

We can never hide from our darkness.

In fact, this can create and attract people and situations that mirror whatever it is we are hiding from. Our subconscious is always trying to show us what we need to become aware of, even if that means putting us in a less than ideal situation, so we can finally heal and let go of whatever we’re holding onto.

Conquering the darkness in ourselves involves consciously choosing to dive into pain we might have been afraid to feel and releasing it. Those who inflict pain on others do so because they are themselves in pain, it’s a projection of their inner world and we must respond with compassion (by facing the darkness within ourselves) if we want to heal and put an end to the cycle.

If you do find yourself struggling with an idea or feeling from the past, practice holding it in your heart and feeling it out without judgment. Often that is all that’s needed to let go, it’s that simple.

Empty your vessel and let the good come in.

Your natural state of being is happiness, become conscious of the unconscious and embrace what the shadow self has been resisting. It’s a matter of how willing you are to face your darkness (unconscious), how deep are you willing to dive to reclaim that eternal fire within your heart?

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