Do You Know Your Shadow Side?

By Eric Perry, PhD-c


“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence”
~Simon & Garfunkel

Like Dr. Jekyll and his evil shadow Mr. Hyde, most of us are completely unaware of the constant dark companion that dwells within us. Our shadow side, according to C.G. Jung, the celebrated swiss psychiatrist, is the dark side of our personality. It is an unconscious aspect of the personality of which we are not consciously aware. The shadow side is comprised of primitive and negative emotions. It resides within the deepest recess of our psyche, rarely seeing light. It is comprised of the least desirable aspects of our personality such as greed, envy, anger, rage, selfishness, power strivings, and sexual lust. These are parts of the self that we reject and dare not look at in the light of day. According to Jung, its function serves as a reservoir for all human darkness. All that we reject in ourselves and deem unacceptable becomes part of the shadow. We create and invest ourselves into an idea of who we are as individuals. Anything that is inconsistent with this persona is suppressed and put in the inner well that contains our darkest emotions. I believe to truly know ourselves, we must be willing to acknowledge and accept the Mr. Hyde within us.

How to recognize your shadow side:

1. Irrational and instinctive
The shadow side is irrational and instinctive. It will psychologically project a perceived personal inferiority onto someone else. A person may project and attribute a quality onto someone else in order to defend against their own impulse. For example, a person who habitually engages in gossip may accuse others of being gossip mongers. These projections of inferior personality traits act as a wall that keeps a person from seeing this dark side of themselves. This suggests that the qualities we repress, we often see in others.

2. May manifest as psychological disturbances
At its most dangerous, the habitually repressed shadow will manifest itself in psychological disturbances ranging from neurosis to psychosis. In centuries past, the behaviors attributed to the shadow were seen as a form of demonic possession. Such is the strength of the unleashed shadow.

3. Appears when triggered
Stressful circumstances, extreme fatigue, and intoxication may trigger the shadow side to temporarily take over a person. For example, an intoxicated person might become enraged and want to fight everyone, or a person might be triggered by a loved one in a moment of stress and lash out in an uncontrollable and irrational manner. It is as if we go on autopilot and the unconscious shadow takes over.

We must not be afraid of our shadow side. C.G. Jung used the term shadow as a metaphor for the unconscious. It is not an evil twin that resides within us. It is a part of the human psyche that should be explored and assimilated into consciousness. It can be a source of positive, life giving attributes and also underdeveloped creativity. For example, if you were led to believe at a young age that art is a waste of time and this ability was repressed, tapping into the shadow within may unleash this artistic talent. There is much to be said about C.G Jung and exploring the shadow through shadow work. Shadow works consists of exploring insecurities, weaknesses, hatred, and other dark emotions. By exploring our shadow side we can develop more self-awareness and as a result become more self-compassionate. By increasing our self-compassion we will become more accepting of others and even be less triggered by their behavior.

This blog is meant to give you an idea of what C. G. Jung referred to as the shadow and is not all inclusive.

If you found this insightful or interesting, please like, share and comment!

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection” ~C.G Jung


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36 responses to Do You Know Your Shadow Side?

  1. Fab blog! Thanks. I’ve recently found some anger which scared me a lot and I’ve always thought of the shadow as a bad thing, reading this has helped me to understand this concept much better!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes absolutely agree with MR. Jung that we all have our Shadows and mayas at every moment but only through darkness we will see light so only through awareness we will know how to get rid of our so called shadows and see the light. Great post and thanks for the awesome share

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My dark side is one that I try to avoid my best! It’s like being in a depressed and suicidal stage that goes on for days or weeks even. At least now I’m learning to manage. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. TheCatLady says:

    Very interesting read. I always saw our shadow side as our twin; it is the negative part of ourselves that brings on insecurities. I never thought about it as being our repressed emotions whether good or bad. I’ll be pondering over this for a while 😛

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Siege says:

    I really enjoyed this post. My shadow side is something that I’ve been struggling with for quite some time. I’ve been working on accepting it, but that is often easier said than done.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for this post. I had an experience with my shadow side yesterday. It totally caught me off guard and felt embarrassed by the resentful feeling that creeped up all of sudden but you are right. It was triggered. First I felt embarrassed by the feeling. Then I embraced my feeling and thought nurturing words to myself. It’s still lingering but I don’t feel upset anymore. Now I am working on healing the hurt feeling that surfaced up. On a good path, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is an enlightening read. I felt jealousy rear it’s ugly head last week when a friend shared some of their good news with me. I tried to push it down because it felt so absolutely “anti” who I am/what I stand for but that wasn’t helpful for me. I might now try sitting with the feeling for a while and accepting it instead of rejecting it. That seems a far more healthy approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. MTM says:

    I love reading this kind of thing. I am desperately aware of my shadow self. She’s constantly lingering just under the surface, but she keeps me on my toes! Luckily, she doesn’t fully come out to play in the world, but the internal conversation is a hoot!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jenna says:

    I have to admit ‘Hello darkness my old friend’ is actually something I said aloud to myself very recently when I was at a particularly low point emotionally. Coincidence that this post of yours is the one I landed on?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I guess, most of us want to see ourselves bright and full of light, being nearly flawless. The knowledge that everybody has a dark side can be very disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Basically the shadow side are emotions, it’s simplify, but as everyone know negative emotion can make harm to yourself or hurt someone, then a lot of people neglects other emotions, which can lead to reckless decisions. In other words (which are still a simplify) all emotions going under control is your shadow side. Reason should control emotions and keep it balanced.
    I can be wrong, so then correct me please.
    Take care and have a nice day.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Coming to terms (acceptance) of my own shadow (a work-in-process) helps me cope with occasional bizarre behavior in loved ones, understanding where it comes from and that I do not need to take it as a grading of my value to that person. Life is relationship driven, lots of shadows overlapping in any interaction – never a dull moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. gecko1000 says:

    Reblogged this on gecko1000 and commented:
    Here’s an interesting blog on Jung and his theory of the shadow – that primitive part of ourselves that pops out of our civil selves from time to time and occasionally overwhelms us. I sometimes think that Positive Psychology ignores our darker side. Do you have a view?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. arealwookie says:

    Reblogged this on EclecticChoices and commented:
    I find this article on Carl Jung’s thoughts and insight into human nature to be highly interesting. It echoes the Judaeo-Christian concept of the soul, the inward battle between good and evil, i.e. humans created in the moral likeness of God versus our fallen and/or carnal nature.

    Jung refers to greed, envy, anger, rage, selfishness, power strivings, and sexual lust as being part of our primitive and negative emotions, the dark, unconscious aspects of our personality. A Judaeo-Christian worldview would point to this darkness or “shadow” as the result of Original Sin in the Garden of Eden, our carnal nature resulting from sin and separation from God.

    Even to the casual observer, with some knowledge of the theological concepts of our essential human nature, it is easy to see that Carl Jung was also influenced by a Judaeo-Christian worldview, albeit a somewhat twisted and reinterpreted worldview. To the secular mind, Jung ideas are palatable, to the theologically trained, they fall far short of the ancient writings (scripture) and the historical account of Jesus Christ, and the meaning of His life, death, and resurrection.

    Nevertheless, the author (Eric Perry, PhD) fleshes out some fascinating ideas applicable to the practical realm of our lives. Human beings do, indeed, tend to suppress the aspects of their dark nature and often project those same “shadows” on others.

    In the final analysis, the post is a good read 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hello again, and hope you enjoyed your holiday! Thanks for this post. I agree with you that we shouldn’t fear our ‘shadow side’. It’s part of being human. I’ve found that over time, a mindfulness practice helps us recognise the different inner ‘voices’ all of us have – and this includes what you’ve called the ‘shadow side’. We also have a ‘vulnerable side’ and lots of other ‘sides’. Sometimes the ‘shadow side’ leaps up in times of stress to ‘protect’ our ‘vulnerable side’ when it feels attacked, and what we might call our more ‘mature side’ somehow opts out and vacates the room! I suppose it’s a matter of learning to accept ourselves as we are with kindness and compassion, and then to work with that to move forward and progress…

    Liked by 1 person

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