The Shadow Self

“…is an archetype that forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions, and embarrassing fears. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos, and the unknown.” – Loner Wolf

The shadow is an archetype formed in the unconscious or subconscious coined by clinical psychologist and mystic Carl G. Jung. Working with your shadow requires confronting and embracing repressed feelings. Confronting one’s shadow can be done through divination, meditation, creative projects, journaling, therapy/counseling, and many other ways. If you find that you’re able to honestly express yourself through writing and journaling, you will love the Shadow Work Journal on Loner Wolf, a spiritual mentorship site run by Mateo Sol and Aletheia Luna. This year, I’ve decided to combine divination techniques with their shadow journaling prompts and have found it to be a very thoughtful collection of prompts that help you address what needs confronting and what self-care needs require more attention. My previous shadow work sessions focused on confrontation and I rarely gave myself self-care time. I wanted to give the journal a try because I was very impressed by Loner Wolf’s breakdown of the shadow self and all its potential.

So What’s The Point?

The point of shadow work is to work on the part of yourself that you have labeled as “evil” or “shameful” and instead of turning away from it, you see the shadow for what it is, starting with the fact that you are the shadow. Rejecting any part of yourself often develops into subconscious defense mechanisms, losing your sense of self, robbing yourself of autonomy, and even losing touch with reality. Psychologically, the repression of an aspect of the self creates a dissonance between one’s personal reality and reality as it is. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Repression in itself is a defense mechanism and defending ourselves is innate. However, defense mechanisms can build into unhealthy and unwanted habits.

Those of us who need to work with our shadow see ourselves pushing our loved ones away, having trouble connecting with others, struggling to see ourselves in a realistic light, believing negative and inaccurate perceptions without challenging them, hurting ourselves and others more than we meant to… the list goes on. The point of shadow work is to take that step towards understanding ourselves. Additionally, don’t believe that this is just for the “spiritual” person. The aspects of shadow work has appeared through works of art, philosophical discussions, scientific studies on humanity, and even in our particular day-to-day events where we have these epiphanies about ourselves. Shadow work in itself is a reflective process and I strongly recommend reading Loner Wolf’s article on the Shadow Self and take that step towards self-actualization.


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Just Checking In – [Just Me]

First, I just want to say I’m really grateful for all the visitors I get on blog, who I’m noticing are mostly occult and metaphysics enthusiasts! I’m glad my posts have caught your attention and I hope they were helpful. Second, there have been a lot of website changes. I’m trying to polish the platform […]

Website Changes

Why must WordPress be so…the way it is? *sigh* Well, made some site changes. More to come… KL

Poetry Is Permission – Just Me

In simple conversations with others, I mute myself unintentionally… …and it feels involuntary because I’m the type that wants to spill my heart’s contents. I just feel like when I’m around the majority of the people in my life, they have shown me what they really care or don’t care about through rejection, belittlement, invalidation, […]

I ran into this video on TikTok by GaryVee and the message was really neat.

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Validation is a very tricky scenario. There are elements of what validation is in my prose poem Earth Magic; where how you grow up and who you’re around influences the way you feel about yourself. When we seek validation, there’s always that great risk of not being grounded; your roots end up being pulled one way and the other then you end up not having any foundation. Being uprooted from any situation can be traumatizing, the precursor to an existential crisis. Unfortunately, the solution we’re introduced to for the pain and uncertainty is seeking more validation even though that may have been what uprooted us in the first place. We depend on external sources to confirm or deny who we are and simultaneously mistrust our internal sources, our intuition, our self-esteem, our ability to self-reflect.

Internal and external conflict is such a powerful tool in writing because it’s so human. An inner monologue could contrast what other events are happening around the character, which brings suspense and tension. We go through this all the time. What’s going on within isn’t in alignment with what’s going on around us. The popular kids Garyvee talked about may have not aligned with the pressure that comes with popularity, but they would ignore or repress what’s going on internally to continue being fed the validation externally. Validation like this can be very problematic psychologically, but there’s another side to validation that is much more fulfilling.

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Many people think inner peace is a façade because it appears to be near impossible. So why even try to achieve it? I think inner peace at its core is an acceptance of the internal and external tensions along with an acceptance of what can and can’t be controlled. Validation from others is something that you feed. If you want validation from your parents, you’ll feed it by doing whatever they tell you to do or what you think they’d expect from you. If you want validation from peers and coworkers, you will change your behavior or even hide your true behavior. The energy put into feeding the influence validation has on you can be shifted to validation of the self that eventually finds the external sources that are in alignment with who you are. This can happen with even small things, like personal interests; I don’t like mainstream pop music, but if I want validation from peers who like mainstream pop, I’ll listen to it until my ears bleed. The truth is, I like rock and heavy metal. The peers who like mainstream pop may no longer be in alignment with me because of my interests, but now they know who I am and they’ll either want to understand me more or distance themselves. Either way, I now have the opportunity to connect with fellow metal heads and we can now garner a reciprocal validation, but even if validation from the metal heads doesn’t happen, my love for metal will be enough for me. I accept I can’t control my peers or other metal heads; I can control what I listen to and can chose to enjoy it as much as I want.

Validation has a close association with “liking” or “loving” something or someone. That’s why I think it’s a tricky concept that is best simplified when you focus on self-acceptance first and go from there. That way, you’ll never be in poverty even if “likes” become an actual currency. This is what “grounding” really is.

There’s a Black Mirror episode about this. It’s called “Nosedive”, season three, episode one. Please watch it. It’s perfect.

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I’m inching closer and closer to meeting my creative goals and a little bit of terror creeps deeper in my psyche because I’m one of those people who fears success. I fear being excited and proud of myself because my reactions have been “too much” sometimes. I fear being happy for myself because there’s someone else who isn’t happy and I need to be there for them. I fear the pressure that comes subsequently after being in the spotlight because of a success. I fear that all the hypothetical stimuli, all the changes and events that could occur, after a success or failure will overwhelm me and cause a mental breakdown. Shame, was the best counter to my fears, so I thought. Instead, shame magnified all of that. It discouraged me from truly embracing the achievements I had made in life and simultaneously added fuel to the fire.

So let’s knock that shit off, said my spirit guides.

Today, I spoke with the spirits about shame, my biggest fear and my favorite defense mechanism. I’m going to breakdown what I was told about shame during the reading. I used the Tao Oracle Deck, the Raider-Waite Tarot, and the Psychic Tarot Deck.

The Tao Oracle Cards

  • Surrender: Submit to how you’re feeling. Acknowledge what you’re upset or ashamed about. – It’s so habitual for us to bury whatever we’re feeling when shame comes around because we’re introduced to it early on. Repressing your emotions brings temporary relief and long-term emotional scars. To have a more functional relationship with the part of you that feels overwhelmed by shame, you need to acknowledge your own feelings. Express in your own way how you’re feeling to yourself.
  • Grounding: Neutralize the situation and reassure yourself. Don’t completely blame yourself or others; just address what’s happening and what you need to do to ground or calm yourself again. – Once you know how you’re feeling, discuss it as neutrally and honestly as possible. How are you feeling? I’m sad. I’m pissed. I’m depressed. I’m worried. I’m anxious. Why? Because [insert distressing situation here] is happening. Okay. What will help you calm down right now? I need to be alone. I need to cry. I need a friend. I need to hit something (inanimate). I need to scream. Really, I think the best part about grounding is just being as real as possible in the moment, preferably alone or with someone you trust and without brining physical harm to yourself or anyone else. Grounding is dropping that emotional baggage. Let that sh*t fall.
  • Be Your Own Sage: Although you’ll be tempted to recall past experiences this situation reminds you of, look through those memories with compassion. Think about what you can and can’t control. – So, most of the fury has passed, but the shame is still lingering. I think this is when the brain starts thinking up ideas on how to cope. If we let shame take the lead during this brainstorm session, we won’t look at our past coping mechanisms with compassion. We may repeat self-destructive tendencies or think of something new. Compassion for the self and others, however, counters shame. The three tarot cards at the bottom, the nine of swords (the situation), the ten of swords reversed (the action), and the page of cups (the outcome), revealed that my anxiety and despair (the nine of swords) isn’t permanent. It will eventually end (the ten of swords reversed). When I look back on how I recovered, it can inspire a greater revelation about my unconscious (page of cups) and if I choose to, I can trust that experience to help me move on and prepare for the future. Thus, shame is no longer required. I felt like sh*t. I let that sh*t go. Now, I am the sh*t because I learned something new about myself. Good job, me.
  • Be Cautious: Shame and other emotionally exhausting situations will not heal in a day, a week, a month, etc. . Be patient with yourself as you try to apply what you’ve learned from the past to your present situation. – During the healing process, sometimes the wound will reopen unexpectedly or we relapse and rip it open ourselves. It happens. Sometimes shame appears because we’re not healing fast enough or getting over it quick enough. You may have just learned to be your own sage, but all of the best advice for your problems won’t do much if you don’t give it time to sink in. Think of it like glue. You have to give it time to dry before it can do its job. If you keep expecting it to be instant and mess with the adhesive before it dries, you’re going to end up with mess and disappointed. It’s not just impatience, but also self-sabotage. When that happens, you go back to acknowledging your emotions, grounding yourself, learn from the experience, and apply the experience to your situation. It’s a process. Let it take its course.

This isn’t easy…

Dealing with shame in this way isn’t easy. I don’t think it’s meant to be easy. So don’t expect it to be. I’m going to just keep trying. The two of swords on the left in the second picture signifies indecision in my subconscious, which is very true right now. I feel torn between addressing my shame in this new way and letting it win, but on the right, the two of pentacles, representing my conscious, is a good reminder that shame brings up a lot of things that are hard to juggle. I can find my balance eventually if I give it time. Lastly, the third picture shows four more cards that stood out to me: Balance, to recall that two of pentacles energy, the four of wands reversed, pointing out what I’m struggling with is most likely linked to what I’ve been through with those close to me, Longevity from the Tao oracle, signifying the use of this new way of processing shame, and Emotional Loss, the core to my shame, I would say.

So, yeah, just wanted to share that. Thank you if you read all the way through. This was a bit hard to write, being more transparent and all that. But whatever. I’m not ashamed 🙂 .