Embracing our Shadow Side


On a trip to Italy I saw many works of art and was struck by the amount of trompe l’oeil (a ‘trick of the eye’ style where objects are painted to look real) in the interior design of buildings.


Looking closely I could see how important the shading was.  On further research, I found out that the use of light and dark in the painting gives the clever perspective of the trompe l’oeil which deceives the viewer, allowing them to see the picture as the artist intended.


This led me to think of Jung and the importance he placed on our ‘shadow’ side: those feelings which we may describe as negative eg jealousy, anger, or hate.  We can also become anxious when we experience these ‘negative’ feelings which adds to our uncomfortableness.


Depending on our early childhood experiences eg being brought up in a family where anger was never overtly expressed safely, or was expressed violently, we may find some ‘shadow’ feelings frightening or uncomfortable. Sometimes to the extent where we don’t allow ourselves to feel them and so we unconsciously repress them, not liking to think of ourselves having these feelings.


Jung saw these shadow feelings as vital to our inner self.  They are as important to us as positive feelings and provide us with useful information and signals. Once we are able to notice our feelings in a non-judgemental way we can accept our current state of mind and body. This is the start of change. Then we can choose what to do with these feelings.


As Jung suggested, over 100 years ago, if we accept all of our feelings, both negative and positive and are able to integrate them we are able to reach a better understanding of ourself and can use our feelings for a more healthy life.


As the trompe l’oeil needs light and dark to exist as a fully functioning phenomenon -so do we need our shadow and light sides to exist together consciously for a balanced and fulfilled life.


Photo by Calvin Craig on Unsplash