Uncovering the shadow is one of two approaches that I suggest as ways of acquiring greater self-understanding.
For a description of the other approach to self-understanding, visit my article here. For a description of two categories of self-development beyond self-understanding, visit my article here.
The shadow is the dark side of our psyche, the aspects of ourselves that is disconnected, disowned, rejected, repressed, hidden from ourselves, and often projected onto others.
Our shadow is unconscious, meaning that we are not aware of it. You can think of your shadow as your blind spots, in the same way that trucks have blind spots, parts of the road behind them that are not visible in the mirror.
Shadows accumulate when we are unwilling to own our emotions. Here's an example:
A little girl is angry with her mother but unwilling to acknowledge his anger because expressing it would be a threat to her protection and survival, since she depends on her mother. She may projects her anger onto an inner image of “you” or “them,” or “everyone,” thinking your are angry, they are angry, or everyone is angry, even though these people have nothing to do with source of the anger, her own feelings.
The goal is to reintegrate the shadow to unlock energy for our growth and transformation. Here how you can do it:
Start by choosing something you can work with, such as a difficult person, a dream image, an uncomfortable body sensation, or anything that causes strong attraction or aversion. Then follow these steps:
1. Describe it
Describe the thing in the third-person, using pronouns like “he,” “him,” “she,” “her,” “they,” “their,” “it,” and “its.”
2. Talk to it
Enter a second-person hypothetical dialogue with the thing, writing questions and responses, using the pronouns “you” and “yours.” Ask things like “Why are you here?” and “What are you trying to teach me.”
3. Be it
Start writing with the first-person pronouns “I,” “me,” and “mine,” culminating with the statement “I am ___________” and “____________ is me.”