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A Note on Shadow

Shadow. Your dark side. Your “I hope people don’t find out about this,” side. We all have it. We all experience things about ourselves that we reject and shut down in order to feel accepted from the rest of society.

I like to think of my shadow as that dark twin from the Kingdom Hearts video games. I first started thinking about the Evil Twin complex when I was doing the work in To Be Magnetic; Lacy Phillips was the first to mention shadow to me and then the idea took off. I drew out who I thought my evil twin looked like, what her name was, all of her personality traits. I kind of created this comic book persona. And then I started identifying her backstory, why she was all of those traits. This gave me a more visual representation of what I was ashamed of or rejecting in myself. If you want to explore your shadow, I would first identify what your unique communication style is; are you more of a visual communicator, written, auditory, you can even communicate through smell really. And then create that picture of your dark twin through your communication style. Maybe you record your voice, explaining the details, maybe you draw out a comic or paint colors etc.

So why do we have a shadow? As humans, we crave acceptance; we are tribal creatures, meaning if we were different way back when, we probably would have been cast out of the tribe to fend for ourselves. We don’t have to fear that happening anymore, but our psychological reaction is just the same.

We haven’t evolved out of that type of thinking. The thinking that states, if I am different, if I am seen as an outcast, I won’t be loved and I won’t be accepted into the tribe. While we are children, we witness our parents, peers and teachers reacting to their environment, showing us what we can and can’t do. Let’s say your mother has her own insecurities and then one day a woman comes on the screen that is beautiful, successful and funny, and then your mother starts commenting that the woman doesn’t write her own jokes, that she must have slept with people to get where she is, that there must be something wrong with her because no one can be that great. You start associating beauty with shame and then you start putting down compliments on yourself so that you will be loved and accepted because that is what you subconsciously believe needs to happen.

Or let’s say you’re crying one day. As a child, you don’t see social norms for crying, you just let it out when you need to. But, then your parents come up to you and call you their “happy girl,” and that “happy people don’t cry.” They may just be trying to console you, but you may internalize that as “if I cry I am unlovable.” This may seem an extreme belief, but as children, we don’t see subtleties, we just learn things in absolutes; and that absolute creates our shadow.

So now, you’ve written, drawn, spoken, or even smelled your dark self into existence. You know their characteristics and are working on their backstory. How do we start loving it?

If you are someone that looks for a structured way to accept and love shadow aspects, check out the To Be Magnetic podcast or even sign up for their membership. This gives you detailed explanations of what shadow has on your subconscious and offers journal prompts and meditations to learn how to love and accept shadow. I would also read Joe Dispenza’s book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, to dive into the scientific side of why shadow occurs and how to get through it. If you don’t give a shit about the nitty-gritty details, I would start with Marisa Peer’s I am Enough.

Seeing that this Dark Twin of yours is still worthy and deserving of success and love, helps you step more into your authentic power and learn about yourself. At the very least, spending time alone and getting to know who you are without the pressure of being enough can drastically change your relationship with Self. Take a moment to identify where you are trying to prove yourself. When we are dog-paddling for acceptance or external validation, there is something that we believe is not inherently lovable so we have to be shown by others that it is. When we begin to do shadow work, we can show ourselves that we are lovable and deserving, without that validation. It’s hard fucking work, I’m not going to lie, but once you get through the emotional release once, you become more and more resilient and addicted to the growth.

You’re doing a great job.

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