The Shadow: It’s where the darkness is cast. It’s hard to see, things are obscured. It’s the perfect metaphor for the personal emotional corners where we hide our most difficult truths and haunting fears.

The shadow is where insidious things lie. It’s white lies, bending the truth or cheating on your taxes. It’s a personal lack of accountability, integrity, or ability to take responsibility. It’s the anger, rage, and desires to harm. The desire for control that leads is to manipulation often lay in the shadow as does the fear that we’re not going to be ok and all of the dark ways we can imagine to handling things when we feel powerless.

Shadow is a hard place to hang out, and suspiciously, it’s also where all the raw material for our growth is harvested. As with any raw material, you can do with it as you please, but you can’t build much if you don’t at least look at the material and acknowledge it exists.

Shadow: For Personal Use Only

Like any coaching concept, the shadow can be used to develop yourself (as it is intended) or it can be turned against others to judge and shame them. It can become a “weaponized distinction” so to speak. Beware of your ego’s desire to diminish others with tools that were given to you to grow yourself.

Why Shine Light on Your Shade at All?

The fastest path to transformation is through the shadow. When you go from not being able to acknowledge thoughts, desires, shame, and behaviors to addressing them plainly and without judgment or much of an emotional charge, you become a more integrated human.

The motivations for your actions become clear and you can see deeper into what causes you to act out unconscious behavior. Being able to see and understand yourself more clearly is power. It is the first step to self-mastery. It is a medicine journey and the quest of any hero.

Moving Shadow to Light in 3 Steps

Step 1. Own Shadow In Your Own Mind

The first step in moving more of your life from shadow into light is being able to admit it to yourself. However, a few things commonly obstruct us from admitting our own unsavory characteristics.

For one, we might be afraid that if we admit them, we’ll have to tell other’s about them — and that’s really scary. Another counterintuitive reason we have such hesitation in owing our shadow is because it actually represents the chaotic unknown. While we can logically understand that admitting we struggle with something is the first step to healing it, it’s not always that simple.

The devil you know is sometimes worth trading quite a bit of power away when faced with the devil you don’t know.

Still having trouble getting motivated? Here’s a quick and brutal truth. By virtue of being human, you actually contain every dark thing anyone has ever done in all of history. You are as much one with every evil dictator and rapist. You share source energy and animal nature with torturers and murderers. It’s ALL inside of you whether you’ve seen it and acted on it, or not. After all, we are ONE, and that includes both the angelic and the demonic. The worst of humanity is at your fingertips, living and breathing like a dragon just under your skin.

Now, once you come to terms with that, the rest becomes much easier. It’s not a panacea, but it does set a very brooding table at which you can be seated and start to take your medicine.

Step 2. Share Your Shadow with a Trusted Friend

Not everyone has a safe person, but if there’s someone in your life that you trust, you can share the following to bring them up to speed.

First, you want to ask permission if you can share with them and if now is a good time. Next, Share that you already understand it’s “dark”. Some folks, no matter how well-meaning might not get it, so you can prep them by saying something like, “I know what I’m saying isn’t who I want to be, but I’m saying it for the sake of confession — to be real with someone I trust”

Next, remind them they don’t need to fix anything or correct you. In essence, you’re asking them if they can refrain from judgment and just listen. You might also want to ask them to keep it confidential.

Go on to share whatever piece of your shadow you want to reveal. Set up a context for them. Our desires and behavior, though they present themselves across lots of different areas of our lives, are usually brought to a head by one (or a few) specific instances.

Step 3. Share your Shadow in a Trusted Community or Publicly

Not everyone will feel it wise or necessary to take their shadow public. These people are leaders and do so with a purpose. By doing so you inspire others toward more honesty about what it’s like to live as a human being in this world. It’s an act of bravery that provides connection and comfort to others on the journey.

Step 2. Share Your Shadow with a Trusted Friend

Not everyone has a safe person, but if there’s someone in your life that you trust, you can share the following to bring them up to speed.

First, you want to ask permission if you can share with them and if now is a good time. Next, Share that you already understand it’s “dark”. Some folks, no matter how well-meaning might not get it, so you can prep them by saying something like, “I know what I’m saying isn’t who I want to be, but I’m saying it for the sake of confession — to be real with someone I trust”

Next, remind them they don’t need to fix anything or correct you. In essence, you’re asking them if they can refrain from judgment and just listen. You might also want to ask them to keep it confidential.

Go on to share whatever piece of your shadow you want to reveal. Set up a context for them. Our desires and behavior, though they present themselves across lots of different areas of our lives, are usually brought to a head by one (or a few) specific instances.

Step 3. Share your Shadow in a Trusted Community or Publicly

Not everyone will feel it wise or necessary to take their shadow public. These people are leaders and do so with a purpose. By doing so you inspire others toward more honesty about what it’s like to live as a human being in this world. It’s an act of bravery that provides connection and comfort to others on the journey.