Not every aspect of our personality has to be to our liking. Some of them we sometimes want to hide away. Why not to do this and how to make friends with your Shadow?

There are a lot of different qualities in every person – positive and not so positive. Sometimes they complement each other, and sometimes they completely contradict each other. It would be wrong to believe that man is a consistent creature in which everything obeys logic.

There are traits in each of us that we find unpleasant and desires that we labelled as unacceptable. It is these that we often prefer to hide from the outside world and not let them manifest themselves outwardly. In analytical psychology, this “skeleton cupboard” is called the Shadow.


When a child is born, he does not yet have a system of moral evaluation of his traits and desires. He learns it from his parents and environment together with other perceptions.

Gradually, we learn that acceptable behaviours – e.g. strength, responsibility, neatness – are encouraged, while behaviours labelled by the culture as negative – e.g. weakness, greed, laziness – are condemned. Over time, a person memorises these filters and begins to censor himself.

Most often such assessments are stereotypical: girls are not allowed to shout loudly and spoil themselves, and boys are not allowed to cry

But a lot also depends on the attitudes in a particular family. Therefore, in the shadow can fall not only immoral qualities, but also those that a person is not accustomed to associate with himself, himself defines them as shameful and does not allow himself to show them.

To illustrate, we can remember the heroine Alisa Freindlich from “Service Romance”. She, a reserved careerist, was overshadowed by her femininity, a quality that she personally believed would hinder her professional growth, make her frivolous and distract her from her work tasks.


A person has the right to decide for themselves what kind of person they want to be. Some of us are convinced that we push a part of our personality on the grounds of personal choice. But the problem is that most often this process is unconscious. We may avoid and feel ashamed of our Shadow, often without even attempting to analyse what exactly is behind the closed door of the unconscious.

Whether we like it or not, the shadow subpersonality trapped inside us will periodically remind us of itself. No matter how hard we try, it is impossible to squeeze the hose so that the flow of water does not rush elsewhere. If the Shadow hides unconsciously, its external manifestations can be quite destructive for a person. Shadow qualities we often spill out in conflicts, when we do not control what we say on emotions to other people.

The shadow can begin to “eat” a person from the inside – then there are psychosomatic diseases, nervous tics, mental health problems

Our shadow side controls us when we are not aware of it. It can prevent us from achieving desired goals, keep us close to toxic or manipulative people. So it’s important to recognise and accept it in time. Once we understand what it is that we suppress in ourselves, we have the freedom to decide what to do about it.

By getting to know our Shadow, we can find ways to control its outward manifestations and make this process ecological and safe. Often the hidden side of the personality is associated with extreme emotional manifestations – aggression, sexuality, destruction.

It can also contain a huge creative potential. Creativity can be a way of taming the Shadow, and it in turn can feed our ideas.


The goal of working with the Shadow is to accept ourselves as different, to allow ourselves to be ourselves. Our personality is a reservoir for all possible options, and we have the right to choose which facet to manifest.

Detecting your Shadow is not difficult: it shows up more often than it may seem at first glance.

6 tips

The human psyche is one of nature’s great mysteries. Sometimes it may seem that we know absolutely everything about ourselves, but the illusion of control is deceptive. What is hidden in the unconscious is much more than what we allow to come out in public.

When we stop denying the unexpected manifestations of our self, we release a tremendous amount of life force that is spent on maintaining illusory limitations.