In the works of Carl Jung, ego is defined as the conscious, known and accepted part of our self and the shadow is defined as the unconscious, repressed and unacceptable part of the self. The shadow holds all that has been named as bad, wrong or ineffectual by either the judgments of society, others or ourselves have imposed. This part of the self is set aside, ignored and repressed so the ego can pretend to exist without shame.
Repressed, the shadow must express, and it does so by allowing the ego to project these judgments onto people, things and traditional structures within the environment. Because of this, shame can be used as a tool to try to exert control over what is outside of the self, but this concept is built on a false premise because there is nothing that resides outside of the self.
Shadow work is the process of recognizing the unconscious, repressed and unacceptable parts of the self, acknowledging their purpose and integrating these parts back into the whole. The purpose of the shadow is to contrast the light. Acknowledgement, forgiveness and compassion for this component allows the integration of all parts back into the whole, which creates strength in spirit.
Source: Ayesha Griffith, facilitator of The Happenin’ meetup discussion group at Radiant Life Center. Location: 6051 N. Brookline Ave., Ste. 126, OKC. For more information, call 405-740-6813.