How to deal with Shadow emotions and what happens if we don’t

How to deal with Shadow emotions and what happens if we don’t

How do you deal with yourself when you realize you were acting a little whack the other night?

When you go to a job interview and the interviewer asks you what your strengths are, do you enlighten them as to how much of a team-playing, detail-orientated perfectionist you are, but when they ask what your weakness’s are you have no idea what to say and instead think “I can’t tell them what I suck at and am not good at”.

I can't tell them what I suck it

In our article “Manipulation: A Shadow Action” we mentioned that sometimes, with all of our good intentions and well wishes, we can be the manipulator. I wanted to further explore the moments in our lives when we are the ones in the wrong. Where the Facebook quotes about ‘not letting haters get us down’ and ‘5 ways to cut toxic people out of our lives’ is aimed at us – because we have become the toxic haters.

We constantly strive to be perfect

This time we look at the part of ourselves that we might try to hide because they are not the best version of ourselves. We look at how we can be more aware and what happens if we don’t change.

Firstly, I want to start off by saying that we are not perfect.

We always say this but I think we have lost the concept on what that means in our everyday lives.

We expect everything to be perfect and done on time. But, more than that, we expect to have our emotions in order, to never overreact, to have all our ducks in a row, to never get upset, to never be a little ticked off or irritated. As I have gotten older I have realised that the less wiggle room we give ourselves with these traits, the more stressful it becomes and because we think that we have to be perfect all the time, it makes us miserable… because we are falling short.

The best thing I have heard this year is “We are not gods, we are flawed mortals” or something like that. I liked it because it was lends a shoulder to those of us who have a difficult time dealing with some aspects of ourselves that we struggle to accept.

When I look at myself and try to figure out when the times are that I am not my most happy self, sometimes I find it is when:

  • I am overwhelmed by all that I have to do.
  • I am criticized.
  • I am feeling taken advantage of or taken for granted.
  • When I am worried about money.
  • When I am not reaching my goals.
  • When I am stressed.
  • When I am hungry.
  • Or when I am tired.

When I look at myself and try to figure out when the times are that I might lash out or be the nastier version of myself, I am actually surprised to find that most of the time the things that make me unhappy are also the things that trigger my hidden self to come out a little more.

In those times I will admit that I can be

  • Irritated.
  • Moody.
  • Short tempered.
  • Angry.
  • Upset.
  • Just generally unhappy.

If you do not deal with these aspects it leads to a loss of balance (as much as we try to have balance) and, more importantly, throws our perspective and good decision making skills right out the window.

Sometimes it is ok to ask for help

Some of the ways I find that when I am unhappy how it affects my life

  • I do not enjoy any of the work I am doing.
  • I find that I dwell on negative aspects.
  • I am not appreciative of what I have.
  • I am constantly bombarded with negative thoughts.
  • I might develop a ‘poor-me’ mentality.
  • I might want to sleep a little more than usual.
  • I do mind-numbing things like watch too much TV or scroll through social media more than usual.
  • I am short with loved ones.

Some things that we can do 

  • Set goals: Every week set achievable goals. I am not talking about the end goal, like workout 5 times this week and develop a morning routine.
  • Start small: This is the only time thinking smaller is actually a good thing. Pick 1 or 2 things for the next week that you would like to work on. Like getting up a little earlier in the morning, or working out at least once (you have to start somewhere).
  • Be realistic: This is something I think we all forget to do. We set these huge goals and do not have smaller achievable goals set that would lead us towards reaching our bigger goal. We only see ourselves at the top of the mountain, we forget about packing in water, having the right shoes, getting the body ready for the walk. We forget the journey.
  • Find hobbies: Something you really like to do that brings you joy. Forget the word passion, just look at something that you like or are interested in. Have a quick look in your Google history for inspiration.
  • Ask for help: Talk to family and friends and see where they can assist you. If you are wanting to stop eating junk food, ask a family member for an easy recipe that they love to use. Speak to your partner about what you need from them and also what they need from you in order to both live your life in harmony.
  • Learn from other people: I cannot tell you how beneficial it is to get outside of your mind and see how other people live their lives. What their habits are, how they structure their days, what they spend their time on, how they manage their money and their time. Speak to people to gain some insight that you can learn from and apply to your own life.
  • Try and eliminate nastiness and negativity from your life: Whenever you want to complain or feel negative, in your mind give a short thanks for something you are grateful for. I am not a positive-preach all the time kind of gal but when you do this it does give you some perspective and lessens the time you spend focusing on the negative. You can find some great gratitude journals here.

Remember that our lives are short and that one day, we won’t be here anymore. Who wants to live a life full of negativity, anger, irritation and unhappiness?

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What do you do to notice your shadow side? How do you recognise it and how to you address it?

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Robyn MacGregor

Robyn is a yoga teacher and full-time holder of a normal job. She has always felt that there is more to our human condition than what we reveal on the surface and that nothing is black and white. She writes and teaches because she needs to evolve and learn about herself and feels that sometimes we can only do this when we do it for others.

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