Our journey of Self-Exploration is a bit like Dante’s Inferno. Before making our way out of “hell” we must walk through the depths of our inner darkness. Many religions symbolize these experiences well.
Two famous examples include the case of Jesus who had to face Satan in the desert and Buddha’s encounter with Mara (the Buddhist Satan) before his “awakening”. The term “shadow” was first used by Carl G. Jung to describe the repressed or denied part of the Self.
I truly feel we should be embracing or integrating our shadow self, I do not mean to indulge in any desire that arises within you. Indulging your anger, for instance, will simply result in more anger. By embracing your inner darkness I mean that it is necessary for you to “accept” it. Accepting your darkness will allow you to take responsibility for yourself, and once you truly acknowledge one of these dark traits instead of avoiding them, suddenly, they will stop having control over you. By being honest with ourselves and accepting our shadow elements, it frees us up to truly witness the uncharted areas of our minds, allowing us to see that we are not these elements, but simply possess thoughts, feelings, and drives that come and go. You cannot simply go “beyond hatred” if first, you don’t admit to yourself that you do in fact possess hateful feelings.
To completely experience Self-Love we must learn to experience our Shadow Selves, and voyage into the dark, murky waters of the unknown courageously. Otherwise, every time we condemn other people for their shadow traits, we’re in essence condemning our hypocritical selves in the process.
Yet, the shadow, while very real, is not meant to be taken concretely or literally but rather, symbolic. It is not an evil entity existing apart from the person, nor an invading alien force, though it may be felt as such. The shadow is a universal (archetypal) feature of the human psyche for which we bear full responsibility to cope with as creatively as possible.
Our ego likes to think that we are inherently good human beings and we don’t dwell in any negativity. But then one day when somebody hurts us, we go overboard with anger and resentment. In another situation, if we experience failure or someone unexpectedly points a finger at us, we are suddenly filled with fear, confusion, and guilt. Our first instinct in such situations usually is to defend ourselves and protect our identity. We can feel the vulnerability in our stomach but we manage to put up a face and justify as much as we can. Once the situation is over, our conscious mind forgets about it because there are plenty of other things to deal with. Neuroscientists recently proved that human thoughts have rhythms and frequency which has a major influence on our behavior, and good and evil are facets of human behavior. The vulnerability and anger, which you truly felt, never got a chance to display itself and it got stored in your shadow, which is resurfacing time and again in the form of insecurity and negativity, acting as a catalyst to negative actions.
Many healing modalities can be used to help this process, my favorite is the ThetaHealing technique, as it brings full responsibility and empowerment to the individual. As an example, if there is someone in your life that is causing you grief, and you would like to use this experience to get to know your Shadow Self better and to heal, meditate on the feelings you have toward the person. Then ask yourself, “Is there a part within myself that is similar to this person?” As you do this, locate where in your body or energy field these feelings and/or the part resides. Meditatie and as you do this, speak to the Source within you and ask it to show you the part of yourself that has attracted this experience into your life. This can bring up hidden aspects of yourself that you have been unaware of but need attention. When you begin to feel the part, let it know that you are sorry for ignoring it for such a long time. Tell it you would like to get to know it better and to help it heal. This process may feel uncomfortable at first, but continue observing and sending awareness and it will help you work with your emerging Shadow Self. Allow yourself to have compassion toward the part(s) that come into your awareness. You may also include an affirmation such as, “I release all negative feelings into the Source of All that is and it is requested to receive energy to heal now” or similar words or other affirmations you feel are right. Repeated sessions may be necessary until you have let go of all the negative feelings and you feel at peace.
An old Native American Indian Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”