What is the Shadow Archetype?
The Shadow is something about ourselves of which we are unconscious. It is not the way we act when no one is looking. It’s the way we act when everyone is looking! The Shadow is an archetype that is an aspect of our personal unconscious. That is, the Shadow is something related to unrecognized aspects our personality. These aspects of our personality have an autonomy about them, meaning that they “act out” on their own. As long as they are unconscious, they retain a measurable psychic (more on that one later!) energy that is unavailable to us, which is why they can act out on their own. The Shadow can be integrated and the lost energy repossessed if only we take the time to realize it in ourselves. Jung said that it was indeed a great feat to realize one’s own Shadow, to accept it, and finally integrate it. Only when we recognize it, can we stop acting from it and transform ourselves.
The Shadow Archetype in Dreams
Through dream interpretation, we can easily spot our Shadow. Our Shadow will always appear in our dreams (in the form of the same gender) and it is often in the character of someone we despise – someone who, as in real life, really triggers us. This can be a person we know or it can simply a manifestation of some despicable dream character.
When you feel triggered or charged by another person, take notice! You are probably looking in a mirror.