Our shadow emotions influence most aspects of our lives without us knowing it. It could be that curse word you uttered out of nowhere. Or the hateful comments you made about a photo you saw online. Whatever it is, our shadow self, unless dealt with, has the potential to cause havoc in our lives. That’s why understanding the 7 ways to spot your shadow self and embarking on shadow work can help you realize your true potential, leading to spiritual growth.
The Origin of Our Shadow Self
Are there certain aspects about your looks or past experiences that evoke negative emotions anytime you think about them? You could be harboring shadow emotions. These are the negative aspects of our lives that we would rather forget. Since we cannot get rid of these dark emotions, we push them into our shadows. And these become our shadow self.
So, what are the 7 ways to spot your shadow self? How can you know when your shadow self is in action?
7 Ways to Spot Your Shadow Self
The easiest way to spot your shadow self is by examining how you relate to other people, animals, or your surroundings. In addition to that, below are seven instances where shadow behaviors manifest in our relationships:
#1: Tendency to Judge Others Harshly
How you criticize and judge others reflects the kind of shadow emotions you have. Our harsh judgments of others come from the areas in our lives that we feel weakest.
For example, people at the gym pointing out an overweight gym member as fat. Here, the oversized gym member is taking positive steps towards managing their weight. Yet, the nasty comments say more about the insecurities these other members have than the body shape of this gym member.
Note that this shadow behavior is common with parents or anyone in authority. For example, a parent who aspired to become a doctor may criticize a child for failing to qualify for medical school.
#2: Repressed Sexuality
Anyone can get excited at the thought of a past sexual encounter or fantasy sexy thoughts with their crush. However, if you harbor shadow emotions, these sexy thoughts can lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame.
Think about it.
Do you get embarrassed talking about particular sex topics? Or, did you grow up knowing that sex before marriage, masturbation, and homosexuality are sinful? If so, anytime you get sexual thoughts about your future partner, you feel dirty.
Sexual repression is a learned behavior whereby we squash our sexual desires to protect ourselves from ridicule. Sadly, this behavior harms our adult sex life. Anyone with repressed sexuality can get tense, restless, or struggle with sexual urges that they have no clue how to express.
Projection is an ego defense mechanism that involves individuals placing their unwanted feelings, thoughts, desires, or motivations onto another person, animal, or object. For example, if you view your partner as rude, you may start believing that they do not like you.
Other examples of projection include: –
- A cheating husband who accuses the wife of unfaithfulness
- A hostile parent who accuses their child of anger management issues
- A girl struggling with their body image pointing out flaws in their friends’ body shapes
- Students struggling with self-doubt and claiming no one wants them on their teams
We project shadow emotions to others when we fail to acknowledge those feelings in ourselves.
#4: Internet Trolling
We live in an era of social media. Unfortunately, people hide behind their keyboards to troll strangers they meet on the Internet. The trolls know that they hurt others by their actions, but they do not care. It is the shadow of cyberspace that gets trolls comfortable enough to bring out their shadow self.
Hence, an Internet troll may: –
- Spam your inbox with irrelevant messages
- Post inflammatory messages in a chat room, blog, or forum to provoke other readers to respond
- Leave offensive comments to upset you, cause trouble, or get unwarranted attention
The best way to deal with Internet trolls is by ignoring them. You can also mute or block them to stop any further trolling. And, when it gets out of hand, report the internet trolls to the relevant authorities.
#5: Quick Tempers Directed to People in Lower Positions
If you work at a customer care help desk, your job requires you to put on a smile regardless of the rude remarks you get from an angry customer. In such a scenario, you end up piling feelings of frustration and anger. In turn, you may unleash these unresolved emotions to your co-workers in lower positions or your children once you get home.
#6: Victim Mentality
Do you know of anyone who plays a victim in every situation? Such persons: –
- Take no responsibility for their actions
- Live a stagnant life, blaming others for their lack of progress
- Hold grudges and use them to avoid being accountable for their actions
- Lack of assertiveness leading to anxiety and depression
- Trust no one
- Feel powerless and have self-pity
- Set no limits
- Like to start petty arguments
#7: Lack of Boundaries
Finally, our shadow self can manifest in how we set or fail to set boundaries in our relationships. Like you could be the doormat in your group of friends or workmates for the sake of keeping the peace. Or, you are the type of person who never says no. This shadow behavior comes from the guilt you hold from your past mistakes or misfortunes.
Can Anything Good Come Out of Our Shadow Self?
Yes, indeed. Note that our shadow self is not only about the negative emotions that we try to avoid. It also contains these protective and creative elements waiting to nurture.
So, do you identify with the 7 ways to spot your shadow self?
If so, plan to start your shadow work today. Shadow work is a process that frees you from your unconscious shadow. In turn, you will have a better perception of life, improve your relationships, feel energetic, develop self-compassion and self-awareness, and tap into your creativity.