The shadow is an aspect of the self in which one feels shame or tries to hide either from the self and/or others. It is often projected onto others or we attract others who display the same shameful characteristic or emotional trouble. The shadow parts of ourselves are not something we gladly own in polite company, as it often creates moments of tension when brought up at the cocktail party or dinner table. Yet it is likely the thing that is brought up in the midst of gossip and intimate talks about family concerns that go beyond the superficial. The shadow can leave one feeling powerless through addiction, pain, secrets and shame. As one finds it difficult not only to admit to others but to the self that this dark element/characteristic is part of who one is. It can be violent, pathetic, mean or tragic but all the same, it deserves your attention and understanding just as much as the things that make you proud of yourself.
So why give the shadow any attention? So that it doesn’t rule one’s life. Regardless of whether one decides to explore the shadow or not, it is still there, so one might as well get acquainted with it to understand what makes it thrive and what makes it appeased. To get to the root of understanding requires a dive into the shame surrounding the issue. Exploring the shadow also brings a sense of compassion, humility with a greater understanding of the continuum of good to bad in humanity as you identify it within the self. To make peace with the potential for extremes within the self and to consciously cultivate that which helps one to thrive while understanding the destructive potential. This is a step toward consciously forming one’s personal karma, and therefore improving the collective karma.