This article is about “the shadow” which is from Jungian theory. The concept of the ‘shadow’ in psychology involves recognising and integrating the parts of ourselves that we have repressed or denied. These hidden aspects often stem from childhood experiences, cultural and religious conditioning and societal ‘norms.’ By acknowledging and understanding these parts of us means to feel our feelings and from that we can transform our wounds into wisdom.

Formation of the Shadow

Family Dynamics: Growing up in environments where expressing emotions was discouraged can lead to repression and often shame.

Religious and Cultural Beliefs: Teachings that label emotions like anger, jealousy, and sadness as negative or sinful contribute to internal conflict, such as these shameful feelings will cast me out of my safe groups, or worse, feeling this will send me to hell.

Societal Norms: Messages such as “big boys don’t cry” or “keep a stiff upper lip” force individuals, such as men who are often taught to hide their true feelings or women who are expected to be smiling, and to be nice and pleasant all the time.

From a very young age, many individuals learn to suppress these so called ‘negative’ emotions: anger, jealousy, sadness and shame, to fit into societal norms and avoid discomfort or rejection. Often they believe as infants, seeing the reaction from caregivers and teachers, they must hide that they feel this at all costs and it becomes:

bad things will happen to me if I feel this > I am bad for feeling this > I don’t want to be a bad person so I will not let myself feel this.

The Survival Instinct

Feelings have a purpose, to tell us what we need and predominantly to keep us alive. Then we have a conflict because in order to stay alive we have instinctive animal pack tendencies, which means we are driven by the instinct to fit in and avoid standing out to avoid punishment, exclusion and the feeling that I I can not live alone so I may not survive this.

I must fit in > if I am cast out I will shrivel up and die > I will deny my feeling > that part of me does not exist therefore I am safe

Maintaining the Persona

The effort to maintain this socially acceptable persona can be exhausting. This often manifests as people-pleasing, saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’, and engaging in superficial conversations that feel pointless. You begin to feel miserable and often burn out occurs because your boundaries are not in place and you are doing more than you have the capacity to do; and that you are not validating yourself with not validating your feelings and needs, essential to your health and well being.

Conditions and Disorders

I find this theory particularly helpful when I work with people that struggle with ADHD or ASD since they appear to be awkward or difficult due to not going along with repressing themselves and as fitting in with the pack is a survival instinct, struggle with anxiety (feeling unsafe in the world). This really helps to understand your conflict, your frustration and more than that, this theory shows that humans have needs, that feelings are necessary for survival and that societal ‘norms’ have always been a construct that blocks the true self.

Evolving Society

Society is gradually evolving towards greater acceptance and understanding of human needs which are recognised by unique expression of your identity. This evolution is dependent on YOU doing the work in counselling to be your authentic self. The world needs you, society needs you to step up and be unequivocally YOU.


Imagine that your pain is all caused by your feelings which are just parts of you that need you, like a child, your child or a child in your family that you are ignoring and saying go away, I don’t have time for you, how as a child you needed compassion. These so called negative emotions, your feelings that you deserve to have, need you:

Anxiety: Fear and feeling unsafe because you don’t fit, you are changing, the world is changing and it is scary. This is a natural response to feeling unsafe. If you feel unsafe but you are actually safe in the present moment, it is an unprocessed memory being triggered.

Shame: You should not feel your natural feelings and you are bad for feeling them. This is not true. You feel because you are human and need to feel all of your feelings.

Sadness: That you can not work it all out and feel defeated, exhausted (and possibly suicidal – I must avoid these feelings at all costs). They are your feelings and are all natural.

Remember: Feelings are temporary. A feeling can not kill

you. You will feel better when it subsides in a moment

or two.

Transforming Wounds into Wisdom

Acceptance and Integration: Acknowledge the parts of yourself that you have hidden and understand that these emotions and experiences are part of being human.

Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, recognising that everyone has a shadow.

Counselling and Support: I will offer you unconditional positive regard, genuineness and empathy, providing the safety to navigate your internal world, be with you when you validate your feelings, turning your wounds into sources of wisdom.

Personal Growth: I will be with you when you embrace your true self, be with you when you have challenges, being the new you in your relationships and navigate your true authentic self and your authentic life.

Overcoming Resistance

Resistance to this process often stems from deep-seated beliefs that acknowledging your true self makes others wrong. This can be challenging, you might fear losing people close to you if you start saying “no” and finding your voice, expressing a controversial opinion, not going with the in-crowd.  However, it’s important to realise that life is meant to flow, and holding onto these fears stops you feeling validated in your life, in your close relationships, not only preventing your personal growth, but impacting your mental and physical health.  Embracing your shadow and turning your wounds into wisdom is a courageous step towards authenticity. Society is evolving, and you can be part of this movement by accepting all parts of yourself and finding validation in your feelings. Join the movement of self-discovery and acceptance.

Call to action

I hope you enjoyed my article. When you are ready to start your counselling sessions, I am here, waiting for your contact and looking forward to meeting you and hearing you very soon. Best wishes, Karen