One way to get an idea about a person’s inner self is to observe what they fear. We can watch her facial expressions or hear what she condemns. The key to the deepest motivations of the mind is fear. What a person purports to love is an unreliable aspect. These facts have been known and utilized by propagandists and communications experts for centuries.
The art of manipulating our fears is practiced by modern advertising and political institutions in very sophisticated ways. We can know about this and still fall prey to persuasive influence. It’s very simple and easy to tap into the power of our subconscious. With the right techniques, our “hot buttons” get pushed.
A part of our unconscious mind, the shadow self is a seething bed of repressed fears, instincts, shortcomings, and perceived weaknesses. This is the inexplicable part of us that is instinctive and irrational. The shadow self projects our own faults into supposed moral deficiencies of other people.
Some experts say that our storehouse of fears and projections are based on past experiences. The memories bubble just below the surface of conscious thought and cause feelings of anxiety, disgust, and fear. Some people posit that if we become aware of our fears and projections, we can learn to turn them around into positive and constructive mental energy.
If we are unaware or are unwilling to work with our fears, our anxieties and prejudices become more deeply embedded and habitual. Our minds become prone to deception and illusions. We begin to believe that our lives are more wonderful or more terrible than they actually are. Wishful thinking in ivory towers can result. At the same time, worrying and “awfulizing” can intrude into our thoughts. When we allow our imaginations to run away with us, the shadow self is at work.
One of the more destructive aspects of the shadow self is its tendency to become strongly attached to memories of our past. This is where grudges are planted and cultivated. We can dwell on hurtful actions by others long after everybody else has forgotten them and moved on. Resentments build and are stored when we haven’t confronted others directly. The shadow self also cultivates resentments when we rightly or wrongly feel that we’re being taken for granted. Resentments sit on the borderline between the conscious and unconscious.
The shadow self should not be considered as strictly negative and destructive. It can also be the aspect that takes the personal, subjective points of view and relaxes into deep, profound thinking.
Carefully used, the shadow self can surface into our reflective moods and can be found if we take the time to regularly meditate. It is at this place where we can balance intuition with reason and care. If you tend to do things on a whim, you can learn to temper it with your logical mind.
The most debated and controversial parts of the shadow self are dreams and intuition. Now, we must carefully tread in order to avoid deception and delusion. Here we find the interplay between mental blocks and total abandonment to fancy. Our dreams, internal promptings, and intuition might lead us to understanding and insight. At the same time these aspects can lay the foundations for false illusions and hubris.
If we fail to utilize the balance of logical judgement, the veiled messages of the unconscious can lead us into troubled thoughts and actions. Prudently heeded, dreams and intuition can lead us into positive, productive ventures.
The shadow self is also manifested in how we care for and love other people, animals, and the environment. We can see the regard or disregard of the land and air around us by various individuals. Are we and others aware of how animals and the Earth are treated? How are downtrodden and shunned people talked about and considered? These are telltale signs about the state of sympathy, empathy, and compassion within the shadow self.
What do we tell ourselves versus what do we really think and do, when it comes to other beings and our environment? What we say and do, speak louder than our beliefs about ourselves.
We can examine our first instincts when we feel threatened. We can also study our reactions to encounters with people who are not like us. When new situations appear in our lives, do we withdraw or do we become curious and want to learn more? Do we distance ourselves from people and events that seem different? Are we open to becoming acquainted and accepting towards those who are unfamiliar or seem different?
How we think and act are indicators of the unease or health of our shadow selves. The shadow self can fool us or it can help us see the light.