Self Love Series: Part 2 – Self-Love and the Shadow

Self-Love is a lifelong practice that has to be fully attended to in order to bring about its full effects. In the current era, the law of attraction is very popular and comes with a myriad of benefits. It refers to the fundamental nature of the universe; that we have but one thing in our power, which is our attention. And whatever we turn our attention to, we attract towards us.

Some authors have indicated that attention is love and that whatever we love or put our attention on simply grows bigger. So we must be discerning in where we place our attention. It is worth noting that the two biggest fields in spiritual psychology – shadow work and positivity psychology – are adamant that people should only focus on bettering themselves and will, therefore, better the world as a consequence.

Shadow work is a critical piece of the puzzle in terms or self realization and empowerment. It has taken center stage from the law of attraction. According to Carl Jung, enlightenment can only happen through shadow work:

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”

But it is also worth mentioning that when the law of attraction is studied in detail over the course of all the videos and texts, the shadow self is comprehensively dealt with. Over time, the person will attract instances where the dark side becomes healed without making it the main priority. This could be in the dream state or in physical reality.

All About the Shadow

Shadow work was first brought to mainstream attention through the work of the eminent psychologist and behavioral therapist Carl Jung. He examined the shadow side of the human being primarily through the dream states as well as symbols. He also discovered something called the collective unconscious which is shared by all humans. However, this is not relevant to the personal purpose of finding the self. You do not need to investigate the theory to complete the tasks. The theory always comes second to practical experience.

As per Jung, everybody has a shadow self which needs to be integrated. The less that the person integrates the shadow and expresses it openly, the blacker and denser it will be. Additionally, the shadow will often project its own failings onto other people. This phenomenon is often demonstrated in law of attraction teachings, where we notice things in others that we hate about ourselves. In other words, our weaknesses and irritation can be the best tools for introspection.

According to some authors, the shadow self is actually the seat of creativity and has many positive aspects. It is just that certain attributes are now viewed upon favorably by our current society. Alternatively, the individual might have just had a certain experience that forced him or her to repress certain emotions and behaviors. Regardless, everybody has a shadow side that needs to be tended to. For some, it is more obvious than others. You can use other people as a mirror to understand your own shadow.

It will be oblivious to you but crystal clear to those who know you. For Carl Jung, the shadow self was a monster both individually and collectively:

“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster.”

The Dark Side of Self Love

The fact is that human beings learn far more from their pain than they do from their triumphs. We have far more to learn from our faults than our strengths. Mirroring is an excellent technique that everybody would benefit from and can greatly assist in self-love.

Everybody can be used as a mirror for our own development. When we detest somebody else, it is a flaw in our own perception. What you see in others is a reflection of what you have within yourself but do not want to deal with. As a result, when somebody bothers you, it is easier to project your own failings onto them and criticize.

As per German author Hermann Hesse:

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us”

Again, this is reflected in the law of attraction. When we judge or condemn others, we are criticizing things we are unable to deal with ourselves. The Christian bible also reflects these teachings:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1)

“Do not judge, or you too shall be judged” (Matthew 7:1)

Next in the  Self Love Series Part 3 we talk about Building Self-Love.