Do you occasionally find yourself thinking or feeling something negative about another person or yourself?
If you do, you’re not alone. No matter how loving, kind, thoughtful and smart you are, there will be times when negative thoughts will surface.
This part of you is sometimes called your Shadow (a concept created by psychologist Carl Jung), and is the part of you that is everything you like to think you’re not. It’s the angry, jealous, spiteful, vengeful, violent, ignorant, etc. part of who you are.
When you were a child you probably got in trouble, or people didn’t like you, when you let your Shadow side show, so you learned to hide and ignore it as much as possible.
However, denying your Shadow is denying an important piece of the total human being you are, and running away from it can control your life.
The trick is to recognize your Shadow and notice when it surfaces. Instead of negatively judging yourself for it, pay attention to the thoughts, look at where they came from, and let them go.
Once you acknowledge your Shadow it will lose its power of you. You will no longer have to run from it or deny an important aspect of yourself.
One of the key elements in creating positive self-esteem is the development of acceptance and compassion for all facets of your personality. Not merely for the part of yourself that is “the good little girl or boy,” the part who follows all the “shoulds,” but also for the parts of your personality that you may want to hide, even from yourself.
It might help to look at your personality as a series of circles, one inside the other.
Your Real Self
The outermost circle is your Facade. This is the part of yourself that you choose to share with the world most of the time. This is the nice, polite, creative, attractive, intelligent, strong, cooperative part. It is also the part you want to believe is the total you, since it gains you the most love, acceptance, and positive feedback from others. It’s the part of yourself you use to gain a sense of worth. Fortunately it is only one aspect of the person you really are.
The second circle is called The Shadow. This is a concept taken from the work of psychologist Carl Jung, and refers to the hidden and repressed aspects of your personality. This includes all the negative conclusions you drew about yourself during childhood, all the unpleasant feelings and thoughts that go against your “shoulds” and expectations, and label you as incompetent, unlovable, and worthless.
It also includes the part of you that experiences “negative” emotions and thoughts about others.
You may fear that this Shadow aspect defines who you really are, and live in terror of yourself or others seeing through your Facade to these dark, black, embarrassing, negative feelings. However, it is important to understand that The Shadow is as essential to the total you as your Facade is, and that it is not your identity! The Shadow does not define who you are, just as your Facade does not. They are both a part of the incredible whole.
As long as you are afraid to confront your Shadow, this fear will control you. You will spend a lot of time, energy, and money trying to ignore or deny part of your being. It’s exhausting!
However, when you finally allow yourself to get in touch with EVERY part of your personality, you will find it incredibly freeing. Once you confront your darkest fears about yourself, those fears will lose their power and you will be well along the road to complete self-acceptance, compassion, and acknowledgment of your Real Self.
The innermost circle represents Your Real Self, and is the combination of all parts of your personality: the positive and negative, good and evil, gifts and talents and all aspects that go into making you a one-of-a-kind person.
Once you recognize your Real Self you will no longer feel the need to maintain a Façade, believe other people’s “shoulds”, or deny your Shadow. With the knowledge of, and acceptance and compassion for, your total self, you will at last be able to relax and enjoy all parts of the amazing and unique person you are.
You will never again have to be afraid of your Shadow.
Please comment so others may benefit from your wisdom and experience.
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