There’s Gold In Your Shadow

Our shadow side represents the person we  don’t want to be, all the aspects of ourselves we don’t want to express  because of feelings of shame associated with them. We lock away the  parts of ourselves we believe are unacceptable and we disown them. They  lie dormant, rejected, and their absence leaves us less than whole.

A Golden Shadow

Sometimes what’s in our shadow isn’t  dark at all, it’s the positive aspects of ourselves we’ve rejected  because they shine too brightly for those around us, or because a  calling to a noble cause overwhelms us and we aren’t sure we’re up to  the task. Jung referred to this as the Golden Shadow – our beauty,  knowledge and power which we reject and even project on to others  instead.  As with  all shadow projections, we see these aspects in  others instead of ourselves. We may idolise a famous figure for their  beauty, talent or altruism, while denying our own.

We may also feel strong negative  feelings towards others and criticise them or feel superior, not  realising they represent denied parts of us. For example, we envy others  their creativity and self-expression and criticise them for not  following the rules, all the while suppressing our own creativity and  denying our own outlets for self-expression. Maybe we were told as a  young child that we couldn’t draw, or we made too much of a mess, and so  we put our creativity aside and forgot about it.

What’s In The Shadow?

My own struggles with shadow aspects began early when I learned it was  ‘wrong’ to not be a morning person, and that being an introvert was  something to be ‘worked on’. I tried to hide these parts of myself,  feeling ashamed of them, and whenever they surfaced I felt like a  failure. I also denied my competence and capability to some degree  because I learned that no matter what I did, it was likely to be  criticised or mocked.

It wasn’t until I found other night  people, other introverts, and learned that it was nothing to hide from,  that I let these parts of myself back into the light. I feel no shame  around them now because I found a tribe of people who accept these parts  of me and allow me to own them without fear or shame. I also began to  notice evidence of my capabilities over time as I pushed myself out of  my comfort zone and noticed that I didn’t fall in a useless heap.

Magic occurs in the shadows, bringing  the dark into the light. Doing shadow work means bringing the unloved  parts of ourselves into the world again, reclaiming and integrating them  into our being so that we can be fully whole again.

Mining The Gold

Let’s stop punishing ourselves, robbing  ourselves of important aspects of who we are, and mine the gold in our  shadows to bring it to the surface, back into the light. The best way to  do this is to look at the things you fear most. This will lead you to  your shadow.

What  are your greatest fears? Challenge yourself a little by asking yourself  what’s the worst thing that could happen if you were to confront these  fears?

What message might these fears have for  you? What parts of you need love and attention?  For instance, if you  have feelings of jealousy or anger, what might there be for you to learn  around this? Many clients have told me there depression came along to  show them where they needed to make important changes in their lives,  such as slowing down, or paying more attention to the health or  relationships.

In reflecting on these prompts and even  journalling about them, you may gain a new perspective on these unwanted  aspects of yourself. Becoming aware of these parts will help you stop  projecting them on to others, and over time you might even realise that  these parts of yourself are actually treasures in disguise.