We cannot have light without the dark, which means that all of us have a dark side. Carl Jung, one of the greatest psychoanalysts of our time, has given us insight into the Shadow calling it, “The place in our psyche where all of our disowned, unwanted, and hated parts of ourselves go into hiding.”
These parts of ourselves, like resentments, envy, anger, judgement, and other forms of perceived “badness”, are often treated with such cruelty by our own selves that we regularly shove them into our shadow until they come screaming back into our lives with a mighty force. When this happens, the Shadow has overtaken us and we are often left with such guilt for our actions that we resort to self-condemnation and punishment (yet another avenue for the Shadow to rule).
Why does this happen? Why can’t these aspects of ourselves stay in the darkness forever? The funny thing about our light side, the part of us we want the world to see and admire, is that it needs our dark side.
Without Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter would not have been able to harness his own greatness and transcend the dark arts. Without Sauron, Frodo would not have had to find his bravery, his strength, and selfless commitment to restoring good in the world.
We need our dark side, our Shadow, to guide us toward wholeness and integration of our true nature. We are not one-dimensional beings who are either good or bad, though our ego likes to think so. Once we move beyond believing that we are impenetrable by our darker impulses, can we learn to see them and understand their origins in our psyche.
If we can get real with ourselves and compassionately admit that we are ruled by both sides of our psyche, not just the good side, we’ll begin to see ourselves as dualistic in nature and in constant flux between the light and dark.
Anytime your Shadow emerges, ask yourself “What needs to be healed? What must be overcome?”.