The beginning of autumn marks the transition into a new season full of changes in weather, décor, outfits, and food choices. But there is a much more powerful transformation that occurs than just the colors of the leaves. You may notice that with shorter days and cooler temperatures that your mood and thoughts also undergo a change. This time of year often causes us to turn inward and we may become more aware of our emotions; some that may be darker or unpleasant. In honor of the season, let’s delve into our ‘Shadow Self’ and embrace the multitude of thoughts that make us the unique humans we are.
The term was first coined by psychiatrist Carl Jung. He believed in the importance of incorporating our shadow into our conscious mind to prevent projecting our shadow qualities onto others.
As the phrase suggests, this is part of ourselves that we try to hide from others. We learned through our parents and society that there are “bad” thoughts and feelings. Things that we shouldn’t say, think, or feel. We repressed these emotions so much so that they may be unconscious to us now.
But as human beings, it is natural to have negative thoughts. We all have unique personalities and our experiences throughout our lives have shaped us to have different perspectives. None of us are without traumas or tragedies and denying this only continues to isolate us and prevents any sort of healing. In all reality, we perceive these thoughts, ideas, and fantasies to be unacceptable when they are more than likely normal and healthy.
Therefore, it’s important to understand that every person has a Shadow Self that they don’t openly express to others. The dark thoughts that circulate through your mind do not mean you are crazy or a bad person. It isn’t something to fear or try to rid yourself of. In fact, it’s in your best interest to explore this tantalizing part of your personality to become a complete, balanced person.
Try taking this quiz to see if you’re aware of your shadow self then keep reading for tips on recognizing and embracing your darker perceptions.
Have an honest conversation with yourself.
You can accomplish this in several ways. Try meditating silently with your thoughts and letting them flow without judgment. If you are feeling brave, say them out loud to yourself. Journaling is another great way to truly express underlying thoughts and allows for inspiration. Writing down what is in your mind often brings peace as you are giving those thoughts a place that no longer occupies your brainpower.
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Talk with someone else.
After you have uncovered some of the deeper emotions you’ve repressed you may feel inclined to speak about your shadow self to others. This could simply be an intimate conversation with a friend or family member you feel comfortable with. If you find yourself wanting to explore even deeper or find meaning in your thoughts, seek out a therapist or counselor. They can help you understand as well as work through any painful situations. A professional is an unbiased source that can offer additional perspectives for healthy exploration of your darker instincts.
Let your creativity flow.
This is an opportunity to let your thoughts and emotions transpire into beautiful works of art. Not everyone is proficient at expressing themselves through words. If you’re finding it difficult to speak or write but feel compelled to let your energy out in another form, explore it! Your thoughts may be easier conveyed in passionate brushstrokes of reds, blacks, or purples on a canvas. If you are musically inclined you may find that your soul is dying to speak through an acoustic melody.
The main point of any of these techniques is to learn to accept yourself. Face any feelings of shame, anger, doubt, fear, or grief. Recognize that these emotions and scenarios make you a complete human being with depth and intellect. By embracing your shadow self you are becoming enlightened. You can then connect deeper with yourself as well as create meaningful relationships with others.
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