Carl Jung formulated the concept of “the shadow,” which is a place where individuals store feelings about themselves that they don’t like and would rather not deal with. These feelings can include hatred, sadness, anger, envy, jealousy, and internalized messages and phobias that come from others. These messages that we receive from the outside world tell us that we’re not good enough, and homophobic beliefs that spread this idea plant a seed in our minds that tells us heterosexuality is the only normative form of love, causing negative thoughts and self-hatred to sprout within us.
These are the kind of unacceptable negative messages and emotions that we get from society that we store in what’s referred to as “the shadow.” Once the feelings in our shadow, they’re outside our awareness and our range of attention; however, that doesn’t mean that they’re extinguished. Even though negative messages and emotions are in our shadow, we still feel the feelings such as sadness and anger that are associated with them – we just don’t want to deal with them. This is in large part due to a feeling of toxic shame. As individuals, we feel so much shame for having these negative emotions in the first place that we force them into the shadow in order to not face them anymore.
This method isn’t exactly foolproof, for the feelings that negative emotions that we try to avoid manifest themselves in other forms. For example, we’ll become angry at others and be very difficult even when we don’t mean to be; this is because our feelings manage to come out from our unconscious, and the parts of ourselves that we’ve stored in our shadow seep out.
The paradox of the concept of the shadow lies in the fact that we have to deal with the shadow and face the difficult feelings in there in order to get to what’s good about ourselves. It’s only when we look underneath the difficult feelings we’re attempting to ignore that we can discover our potential, our gifts, and our talents. So, it follows that the more we excavate the bad feelings, the better we will be able to access our potential and unleash our genuine feelings of joy, happiness, and internal liberation.
The best way to deal with the shadow is to talk to a trained psychologist who understands the concept and how it works; this way, they can talk to you about your childhood and how you were treated, and whether or not you underwent any traumas. They talk to you about any big traumas you may have had in your life, such as sexual or physical abuse or severe tragedy, or little traumas like shaming, covert incest, humiliation, and having to hide negative feelings like anger, jealousy, and sadness, because you’re told it’s not okay. Psychological professionals can help you because they are trained to dig for these and help you achieve internal liberation.
It should be noted that this excavation process is not an easy one, nor does it provide immediate relief. If you are willing to do the hard work by sitting with your anger, sadness, internalized phobias, and toxic shame and by talking to a trained professional who will allow you to deal with them, they will eventually be healed. Upon releasing these negative feelings, you can finally have an authentic sense of inner peace, happiness, and fulfillment that is perpetual and will not fade over time. This is how you can truly and successfully work on becoming your authentic self and loving yourself for who you are.