Our Shadow Sides and How we Realise them.

Apparently we share Planet Earth with more than 400 000 species of beetle. For some of you, that’s a fact, which you would have lived more happily not knowing. That’s a lot of diversity in one species! A more relevant fact – there are currently over 7.6 billion of us (and if you want to experience a little panic about population growth, worldometres will sort you out.)

But this post isn’t about beetles or the political and social structures of our world. It’s about something more subtle and personal: your Shadow Side and how it can be realised through experiencing the difference and diversity in our social spaces.

Through choice, we create and live out different lives. We take our coffee differently; our priorities lie in different places and we spend our Saturdays differently. Most of this is totally normal and we don’t think twice about it. But what happens when we do? We all have those seemingly-irrelevant things, which people do that we cannot stand. Some examples may be: 

  • When that overly-confident person laughs so freaking loudly
  • Your friend and her boyfriend who won’t calm down on the PDA
  • The overweight guy who won’t get his shit together and eat healthily
  • Your friend who says, “Definitely failed” and gets 84%


What’s going on for us when we get unnecessarily passionate about somebody else’s more simple choices? 

  1. If someone is choosing to live life differently to you, the response of frustration may simply be the result of you caring for that person and wanting the best for them. You’re projecting your ideas of what a good life is onto them, whether these ideas are valid or not.
  2. Secondly, your frustration may be the result of insecurity: you’re not entirely convinced about your actions and views on the world. When you witness others acting differently to you, you subconsciously see it as them disregarding or questioning your views. That’s why you feel frustrated and irritated – it’s not aimed at them, but it’s due to the concern you feel for yourself.
  3. What I really want to discuss: their choices are bringing light to your Shadow Side.


What is your Shadow Side?

This is a term used by the psychologist, Carl Jung and is made up of the parts of ourselves, which we disown – the parts of ourselves, which we believe are unacceptable to society. This could include anything from incidences we’re ashamed of, aggressive impulses or immoral thoughts or ideas.

As a little child, we see which actions bring us love from our parents and which ones do not. This is how our Shadow begins to form. It is then further influenced by society as we grow up. As a way to cope with the discomfort we feel about the ‘unacceptable’ parts of us, we deny them and often put a lot of mental energy into keeping them under wraps from others and ourselves.

Our frustration and irritation is the result of the “painful and unwelcome reminder of parts of ourself of which we would rather remain unaware.”


The reasons for you not being able to stand somebody else’s actions are entirely personal and you’ll have to explore those for yourself, but let’s look at possible options as to why someone may freak out over certain things others do. You’ve got to be really real with yourself when looking at what’s behind your irritable response.

When an overly-confident person laughs so freaking loudly:

The person who becomes irritated by watching someone act confidently and authentically may feel insecure and unconfident. Maybe they’re struggling with issues of self-expression and wish that they could be more authentic. Maybe they’re feeling trapped in expectation and don’t feel that the world would accept their authentic self.

Your friend and her boyfriend who won’t calm down on the PDA:

This may irritate you if you’re either in an unhappy relationship or your manifesting of Mr./Mrs. Right isn’t working out. You may also be feeling pretty unlovable or unworthy regardless of your relationship status.

The overweight guy who won’t get his shit together and eat healthily:

If you’re irritated by anything related to other people’s health and wellness choices, maybe look at your own. Are you happy about where you are in terms of your health? What’s your relationship with your body?

Your friend who says, “Definitely failed” and gets 84%:

We’ve all got friends who do this or something similar! Maybe they were working and expecting to get 80% and your average is sitting distressingly close to 50%. Realise that there’s most likely a difference between your standards and theirs. When this irritates us, we’re being competitive and are probably are feeling shitty about our 56%. Through their success, we feel the emphasis being drawn to our relative inadequacy and shortcomings.

It’s easy to say, “That person just irritates me in general, so it’s not the fact that they’re doing xyz…” Hmm, okay. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just asking you to think a little more.

NB: Know that having a Shadow is part of being human – we’ve all got one. It doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you a normal person. Our morality is not determined by “how we feel or about what potentialities we have for wrongdoing,” but about how we choose to act. We’ve got choice.

So, become aware of what’s happening for you when you get a little hysterical over something irrelevant. I’ll be posting a Call to Action on Saturday to give you some structure as you work to create more awareness around yourself and maybe your Shadow Side.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” – Carl Jung.


This post was inspired and based on the work of Richard Oxtoby. The quotes are from chapter 9 of his book, “Achieving our Full Potential” (2014).
Featured Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/abandoned-architecture-bright-building-263789/

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