Embracing your ‘Shadow Self’
There is a part of us that we’d rather not know about.
A dark part. A part of our consciousness that we try to hide and deny. It’s the dark part that we believe isn’t acceptable to others or even to ourselves. It’s buried deep inside, hidden. It’s the part that makes us think “there is something wrong with me”, I can’t be loved”, “I’m not worthy”.
Should we keep this ‘dark self’ hidden?
Should we keep it stuffed away? Deny that it exists? or should we acknowledge it, even embrace it?
Denying and hiding it is what we naturally do. If it’s hidden it won’t hurt us right? Wouldn’t it be great if that were true? The next time your out in public, cover your eyes and cross a street. You can’t see the cars coming your way so they can’t hurt you, right?
“The truth shall set you free”. By acknowledging and accepting that we have a darker side, we have another piece of the puzzle that when completed will reveal our true spirit. We become free to experience our glorious totality: the good and the bad, the dark and the light. It is by embracing all of who we are that we earn the freedom to choose what we do in this world. As long as we keep hiding, masquerading, and projecting what is inside us, we have no freedom to be and no freedom to choose. However, it is only when we discover that by embracing our worst fears, we can step into our greatest self.
Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Stuffing it deep down inside of you and ignoring it only sets you up for future trouble. The best thing you can do is accept it, recognize that it is there. Acknowledge, even embrace it. Realize that it serves a purpose. It’s the paranoid part of you that makes you cross the street when you see a group of kids up ahead of you. It’s the liar part that makes you keep quiet when the boss asks who ate the last scone. Acknowledging your “Shadow Self” gives you the freedom to choose. The freedom to decide whether your actions will be of benefit or detriment. Rather than just acting on a thought you have the ability to ask “Where did that thought come from?” and “should I act on it?”.
This darker self which we have suppressed can pop up at the least opportune times. Their sneak attacks will handicap you in the areas of your life that mean the most.
Acknowledging that we have a darker side gives us another piece of the puzzle that when complete will reveal our true “self”. Another step to achieving a greater inner awareness. The good, bad, the dark, the light. It is by embracing all of who we are that we get the freedom to choose what we do in this world. By hiding this darker side we lose this freedom.
Getting to know your Shadow Self
Being aware of this dark part of us isn’t enough. We need to bring it out so we can learn to recognize it, accept it. Bringing it out can be a shocking experience but is well worth it. There are quite a few ways to bring this out. Here’s a couple you can try.
Painting or Drawing
Art Is a great way of bringing out the dark shadow. In psychology, Art Therapists use art as a way to better understand what is going on in a person’s mind. They can analyze the fluidity of the strokes, the colors used and the meaning of the objects placed in the picture.
Allow yourself to feel one of your darker emotions. Something that you recently experienced. If you find it difficult to think of a recent dark emotion use “paranoia” or “hate”. Don’t think too hard about it. Grab a paintbrush or pencil. Look at your color choices and pick a color that jumps out at you when you think of the dark emotion you chose. Put pencil to paper and draw what comes to mind. A squiggly line, a shape or blob. Continue drawing choosing different colors if you feel the desire. Keep going. Stop when you feel you’re done.
Congratulations! You’ve just painted your “Shadow Self”
Often when a writer is experiencing writer’s block, he’ll resort to am art style called autonomous or free form writing. This is a method of zoning out and writing a page of sentences that just appear in the mind. One sentence flowing to the next without concern for a story line. This loosens them up and often helps them break through their writer’s block. You can do the same thing to get in touch with your “darker half” Think of your dark emotion and let the words fly. Don’t hold back even if the words shock you. Just keep writing letting one sentence lead to the next. Do this till you fill a whole page.
Once again you’ve just presented your darker side.
If you allow yourself to feel any of these darker emotions, without fearing judgment from yourself while drawing, painting or writing, you’ll begin to gain insight into your Shadow Self and reveal more about your obscure inner half.
Exploring your darkness is not necessarily all doom and gloom. In fact, you may be surprised by the endless array of creative and interesting ‘things’ you find that have been secretively stored away.