Recognizing Your Shadow

Sections of this topic

    In some of his groundbreaking work in psychotherapy,Carl Jung coined the phrase ‘Shadow’ as those aspects of our self that we hide, deny, or avoid.

    Here’s a good short introduction to the Shadow- ShadowWork Seminar and Video

    What is Shadow?

    We spend mental, emotional, and spiritual energy stuffing traits and hiding behaviors we’d rather not recognize or have other people see.

    The Shadow isn’t just about ‘negative’ traits or behaviors such as greed, dishonesty, or stealing. Most traits have two sides. For example: arrogance and confidence, laziness and rejuvenation, bossiness and being responsible.

    Debbie Ford’s book, “The Darkside of the Light Chaser” popularized the concept of the shadow in more recent times. Her book offers ways to reclaim all aspects of your life to find wholeness.

    I’ve followed the work of Debbie Ford and incorporate her ideas into my programs on Emotional Intelligence. Recognizing your own shadow you’ll see how your emotional triggers get set off by others. Lashing out at others who annoy you at work often is a result of them expressing some aspect of your own shadow that you don’t like and are trying to hide or deny. As you move into a place of greater acceptance and compassion for your own shadow, you don’t react as sharply or negatively to others who show those same qualities.

    Understanding Your Own Shadow

    What parts of your life would you rather deny or hide? Look for the gold in them. How might those traits serve you?

    Exploring your Shadow can help you reclaim parts of yourself that you have stuffed or hidden for years. You’ll need to step through your doubts, fears, and insecurities to re-claim and embrace your authentic self. It’s best to do this work with a skilled facilitator or in a low consequence situation.

    Consider doing this is powerful work to find greater peace and compassion. As you see the gift behind your shadow, you’ll be able to fully embrace all of who you are. This will help you be more accepting and compassionate with others who express those same shadow qualities. From your authentic wholeness, you can then accept and understand others being their whole and authentic self.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.