“We were born whole, and yet most of us are living as partial human beings. We each have the capacity to be an important part of a grander whole. We have the capacity to leave this world a better place than we found it.
We are meant to discover our authentic nature—the state of being in which we are inspired by ourselves, turned on, lit up, and excited about who we are. We are meant to overcome adversity and manifest the greatest version of our own individual soul, not a version of a self that is birthed out of a fantasy.
Big, blown-out fantasies about our lives stem from the pain of our unrealized potential, but true dreams are a reality we are willing to work for, fight for, stay up late for—this is a future that is within our reach. And there is only one thing that can rob us of that future, and that is our shadow—our dark side, our secrets, our repressed feelings, and our hidden impulses.
The great Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung tells us that our shadow is the person we would rather not be. The shadow can be seen in the person in our family whom we judge the most, the public official whose behavior we condemn, the celebrity who causes us to shake our head in disgust. If we understand this correctly, we come to the startling and sometimes sobering realization that our shadow is everything that annoys, horrifies, or disgusts us about other people or about ourselves. With that wisdom in hand, we begin to see that our shadow is all that we try to hide from those we love and all that we don’t want other people to find out about us.
Our shadow is made up of the thoughts, emotions, and impulses that we find too painful, embarrassing, or distasteful to accept. So instead of dealing with them, we repress them—seal them away in some part of our psyche, so we won’t have to feel the burden and shame they carry with them. Poet and author Robert Bly describes the shadow as an invisible bag that each of us carries around on our back. As we’re growing up, we put in the bag every aspect of ourselves that is not acceptable to our families and friends. Bly believes we spend the first few decades of our life filling up our bag, and then the rest of our life trying to retrieve everything we’ve hidden away.”
Excerpt From: Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson & Debbie Ford. “The Shadow Effect.”