The Shadow – The Dark and The Light

Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, theorized that we all have two sides to our personalities; the known conscious side that deals directly with the world around us, and the deeper hidden side that lies below the conscious mind, locked away in the dark cellar of our psyche.

He dubbed this part of our consciousness the shadow aspect.  The shadow aspect is essentially composed of bits and pieces of us that we have repressed, discarded or abandoned for being unacceptable.  The shadow embodies all of the traits that do not fit in with our views of our ideal self – the persona we wish to present to the world.  These rejected characteristics have been deeply buried within to keep them at a safe distance from consciousness so that what the shadow desires is generally unknown to the conscious mind.    Sometimes though, when we are overly stressed, the shadow aspect may make an appearance.  Behaviours that are normally curtailed or avoided because they go against the image that we have built for ourselves rise to the surface in moments of psychic weakness.  Afterall, they are a part of who we truly are – whether we like it or not. 

Jung believed that in order to be whole, you must strive to integrate the conscious with the unconscious, a process he called individuation.  But the process doesn’t happen on its own.  It requires much introspection, self-examination, and a desire to know oneself completely without any of the ego defences blurring reality.  It is in fact, part of the process of personal growth; the  uncovering of all of the layers that prevent you from knowing who you really are.  It means removing the rose-coloured glasses and seeing things in a real way.  Including those things that are simmering in the dark, way down below.  It means coming face to face with your shadow, saying hello, and negotiating some sort of agreement. 

Those who are not at all in touch with their inner selves are the most at risk when dealing with their own shadow aspect.  When you don’t know your dark side, it can become your enemy.  You can have no power over it if you can’t see it.  There is no negotiating and no compromising, it will stealthily come out of nowhere and interfere with your life.  And you will have no understaning of what is happening.

Becoming familiar with your darker side – and we all have one – will allow you to understand it better, and to deal with it in a more open way.   But it`s a fine line.  There is some risk of succumbing to the shadow aspect once you come into contact with it.  Having a strong sense of Self will help you to have a good working relationship with your shadow without getting lost or being consumed by the dark side.

Once you have seen, acknowledged, and accepted your shadow, you will begin Jung`s individuation process.  Uniting both sides of your psyche will make you a more integrated and whole person, help you to drop the persona – the mask –  and allow you to become and embrace the real you.  Warts and all.  When you know your shadow and can examine it, you can perhaps accept it.  Either way, you are in a better place to see the reality of who you really are.  Only then can you make a conscious decision to live your life the way you want to live it.  Your behaviours will be guided by the clarity of knowing who you really are, all the way through.

But not all shadows are dark.  Some people have shadows that Jung calls the Golden Shadow, containing the positive repressed parts of our lives – the unmade choices.  And just as the dark parts of the Shadow must be integrated to achieve Jung`s individuation, so must the positive features of the psyche – the Golden Shadow.   

For some, rejected pieces of personality are left undeveloped and cast aside at some time in the past for one reason or another, but the subconscious refuses to let them go and continues to cling strongly to them.  At various points in our lives, these neglected features call for attention.   There is much positive that can be gained from acknowledging the golden shadow when the time is right.   When it does call, it is usually related to our higher calling, the thing that puts us straight onto the road to self-actualization

If there is a feeling of doubt and loneliness, it is usually because we have not been made whole.  We have not yet greeted our golden shadow.  Assimilating one`s golden shadow means catching up on all of those needs and desires that have not been lived out adequately.

One thing is clear, dark or light, all aspects of the personality need to be integrated in order for us to be whole.

Photo Link :

This entry was posted in Authenticity, Humanistic Psychology, Psychology, Self-Actualization, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Shadow – The Dark and The Light

  1. slklesko says:

    Thanks for sharing! It’s definitely getting me thinking about my own shadow side, both golden and dark…

    • lthibault11 says:

      Thanks for reading 🙂 I`m rather fascinated with the subconscious mind, whether it be Jung`s, Freud`s or anyone elses. In the end, the theories tend to have a fair bit of commonality. The bottom line being that in order to be whole we must be in touch with all aspects of ourselves.


  2. jjhiii24 says:

    This is an especially well-written elaboration on Jung’s ideas, and while your descriptions deftly illuminate the principles behind his ideas, I got the feeling as I read that you were gently and lovingly urging us to understand. This is a wonderful combination for a serious thinker and writer and I am delighted that you thought to link my post to this one.

    The achievement of wholeness is a life-long journey, and your many offerings here feel like gifts to your readers helping them along the path to their own wholeness. There are many insightful and educational ideas discussed here, and you have inspired me to follow!

    Warm regards……John H.

  3. I love Jung and Freud and at base I’m always a psychoanalytic. I think perhaps Jung’s teaching of the Shadow has been a great gift to me in understanding the dark and base and primal and secret and carnal part of my being. It gives more of a persona and a life to a part of me that Freud’s Id only gets so far with. To me the shadow is at times a lover. Perhaps I’m just too romantic in a way. 🙂

    • lthibault11 says:

      I like your romanticized view of the shadow. Our shadow may comprise many different things to each of us but whatever those things are, it is best to be aware, at least on some level, of what they are. Having no self-awareness of our shadow leaves us blind to aspects of ourselves that probably need a bit of minding, lol.

  4. Nina Renee says:

    How funny it is to read this…I’ve recently come in touch with my darker side through a book about relationships. I don’t like everything I’ve realized about myself, but by accepting the Shadow, I can learn to live with it. Great post, L!

    • lthibault11 says:

      It’s true we don’t always like what we find when we are honest with ourselves. It’s all part of the process of becoming a complete and authentic person I guess. Sounds like you are well on your way. Nice to hear from you.


  5. Pingback: Birds of a Feather hate Each Other « truthlets & thoughtbits

  6. At The Edge says:

    Reblogged this on The Edge and commented:
    Once you have seen, acknowledged, and accepted your shadow, you will begin uniting both sides of your psyche will make you a more integrated and whole person, help you to drop the persona – the mask – and allow you to become and embrace the real you. Warts and all.

  7. miche123 says:

    Reblogged this on TheLabyrinthOfChemicalSensitivities and commented:
    Here’s to having a strong sense of self and having an awesome relationship with our shadows… Does that read weird? Okay then with our golden shadows. Now there is a great image!


  8. Pingback: Next Post | TheLabyrinthOfChemicalSensitivities

  9. miche123 says:

    Hi, previously I re-blogged your post ‘The Shadow ~ the dark and the light’? Well since I upgraded my theme with studio press and switched from a .com (free) blog to a .org (paid) blog, all my re-bloggs have disappeared, so I’ve redone the page and put quotes (and attributions to) from this post. Just letting you know because I don’t want you to think I deleted it… It’s a great post on a great subject!

  10. Zen Greenway says:

    There’s a Golden Shadow, too? Ahhhh! That’s fantastic! And I know exactly what it’s been trying to tell me. Now, I’m going to try listening a little more specifically. It helps to have an image to focus on. Again, you have given me a new and very useful tool! The transformation continues … BTW, I hope your transformation is also going well.

    • lthibault11 says:

      Lol, yes there is a golden shadow apparently. It seems you already have a good sense of what that is.

      My own journey continues and is going well. Thank you for asking. I haven’t been writing much lately because my mind has been on other things but I am continuing to grow. At least I think that’s the case… 🙂

      I may be ready to post again soon. I hope you will continue to post; you are an amazing writer with much valuable insight. You really need to allow comments on your blog…just saying.. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s