Being OKAY with your “Shadow Self”

“~It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster. “~ Carl Jung, On the Psychology of the Unconscious

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The “Shadow Self” is another term for persona. Carl Jung referred to this internal conflict as the desire to be who one really wants to be or be the one whom the world expects him or her to be. Being okay with the “Shadow Self” is best left to acceptance of your complete being. Is this easy? Not always. Is this possible? Definitely.

Your “Shadow Self” is that part of you that consists of the darker side…where your malevolent/inappropriate/deviant selfish desires lurk.  Many people are convinced that if others knew about their real desires, no one would like him or her. Dark thoughts or desires do not mean that you must be imprisoned by them; this article is to help you integrate them so you no longer have to attempt to push them to the dark recesses of your mind. Thoughts are not reality; they are just thoughts.

In a world of social media where happiness, motivational quotes and blissful images rule the platforms, it is a challenge to believe that all people have malevolent thoughts or even dark intentions. This interpretation can leave a person feeling fairly lonely and estranged. Left unchecked the ‘evil’ thoughts can sometimes get stuck in a vicious cycle – one that is difficult to step out of. In extreme case, this vicious cycle manifests into obsessional thinking  patterns that are reinforced with poor self-dialogue that sounds something like, “If I keep having these bad thoughts about harming people, that must mean I am a bad person. And, I must be a bad person since I keep having these bad thoughts; I need to stay away from people for fear of what I may do because, after all, I am a bad person.” At that point, professional intervention, sometimes coupled with medication, is often clinically indicated.

Getting real about the fact that everyone has good and bad thoughts is the first step toward authenticity with the self. Acceptance that a person can have both bad and good thoughts can be liberating. Learning to integrate, and then live with, the notion that humans are not always having good thoughts helps a person not feel so all alone. Once you can fully accept that you can concurrently have a bad thought and still not be a bad person, you have won half the battle.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC

K-Counseling & Anxiety Treatment, LLC

Calm mind. Calm body.