While many spiritual blogs talk about the love and the light that we have within us, relatively few dare to mention the other side of the coin: the shadow. In Jungian psychology, the shadow is seen as an unconscious part of the personality, which the conscious ego isn’t aware of. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of one’s least desirable traits, the shadow is often regarded as negative. Furthermore, since it is irrational and instinctive it is also prone to projection. This means that one’s own limitations are recognized as the shortcomings of others.
On my own journey I was unaware of my shadow for a very long time. When I was still working in the corporate world, I thought that everything was fine. I had made the right choices and thus I had achieved what society considers success. Only when I found out that this “success” did not make me happy, I started to realize that something was wrong. But what? Since I didn’t quite know what it was, I blamed others. Be it family, coworkers or friends, I felt that in one way or another they all were responsible for my unhappiness. I on the other hand was an innocent being, who just by doing “what‘s right” would manifest a utopian life. How wrong I was…
Recognizing the Shadow
What is probably the most frustrating about the shadow is that is so hard to recognize. This is because unless we do so, we tend to create the same negative circumstances over and over and over again. Unfortunately, until it occurs to us that we are responsible for this, we don’t have a chance of moving beyond it.
When I was graduating from high school, I thought that a corporate career was the right choice for me. Since I didn’t believe I could make it as a creative, I felt that business was the happy medium in that was interesting enough and would pay me a decent wage. When I then got frustrated with the fierce competition and outright greed I witnessed among fellow students, I wrote it off as a fluke. Since my business school was highly acclaimed, I thought that people there were probably extreme. However, when this mindset kept following me right to my first internship, I had to think for a while.
My job was stressful, people were bullying each other and what made it worse, it was boring, too! Although I still thought that it was my colleagues’ fault, I knew that I couldn’t go on like this. Since it appeared that the “sensible path” was not making me happy, I dropped everything and went for what I really wanted: discover the meaning of life. While at the beginning I thought that it was outside of me, I was soon led down a path that brought me back to myself. As I kept experimenting with a number of practices for expanding my mind, I stumbled upon Shamanism.
Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice that according to its practitioners, allows one to travel to “spirit world”; the world from which reality flows. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the gate to this world would be my subconscious. Since suppressed memories and emotions are typically stored there, it was only a question of time until I discovered the real reason for my unhappiness.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the people or circumstances I had in my life, but rather the incredibly bad image of myself. Because of this image, I did not believe that I could survive unless I got the approval of others. It was then only logical that I went down a path that got me approval, but not much happiness. Thus, if for whatever reason you aren’t happy with the life that you’re living, but you don’t seem to know why, it may be a good idea to look at the subconscious beliefs that you hold. Since the shamanic trance is a powerful tool for uncovering them, I would recommend that you use it. In my free guide “Shamanic Healing for You” I introduce the various techniques.
Integrating the Shadow
While becoming aware of our shadow is an excellent start, for truly changing our lives, we have to go further. Not only do we need to know about it, but also understand and integrate it. Only when we see why we are doing the things that we do, is there a chance for us to change our behavior.
In my case, as is true for a lot of people, the beliefs that I held were largely inspired by childhood experiences. Particularly the early divorce of my parents and the subsequent loss of my father, made me believe that I am not desirable. Being then raised in a very supportive but highly protective household, I learned that I can only survive with the help and approval of others. The problem with that was that the others’ approval then always took precedence over my own feelings.
The result of this pattern was that I tended to put myself in situations that I didn’t like. Ironically, as I lamented the greed and competiveness of the people around me, I did not realize that I was the greediest and most competitive of them all! While my fellow students and coworkers really enjoyed what they did, I on the other hand was just after money and status; a painful recognition.
Luckily, even if we run away from the things we don’t like, our psyche will always create similar circumstances that force us to get to the root of our problem. For most of us this means reviewing and working with the traumas we store in our shadow. The shamanic trance is a great tool for this.
If you would like to learn how such a trance state can be induced and what you can expect from it, please refer to my free guide “Shamanic Healing for You“.