Why Do We Do Things We Regret Later? A Look At Our Shadow Side

Have you ever had the experience where you said or did something that was completely out of character?

Me too. 

It’s definitely not fun.

I’ll feel guilty and embarrassed, thinking, This is not me. I’m not like that.

Have you ever met someone and knew within seconds that you didn’t like them? You didn’t even give them a chance.

Or judged others harshly for things they said or did that irritated you? 

Or screamed at a loved one?

In the above situations, your reactions are likely caused by a darker side of you that seeps out from your unconscious.

Me And My Shadow

The psychologist, Carl Jung, coined the term “shadow” to refer to those parts of our personality that we hide and repress within our subconscious. Or, feelings of overwhelm that we just aren’t able to handle at the time.

Why is it that there are parts of ourselves that we want to keep under psychological “lock and key”?

It all stems from what society and those that influenced our upbringing deem to be good and bad traits. We want to be the good child. The good citizen. We want to be loved and accepted by others and so we learn to conform.

Those so called “bad” aspects of our personality we soon learn to keep at bay through the horrid gasps or looks of disapproval of our parents. Also, by learning what it takes to fit in with our peers so that we aren’t rejected or ostracized.

Through this social conditioning, we learn to keep the seemingly “bad” parts of ourselves pushed deep within our consciousness. Seemingly, because they are not really bad.

The result of repressing a part of who we are leads us to deny aspects of ourselves that allow us to experience life as whole individuals. 

We are effectively blocking off a part or parts of ourselves and this can lead to heavy, dense energy or emotions, neurosis, and/or psychotic episodes.

Why?

We are forever fighting a battle within to keep the “bad” parts or the dark side from coming through.

We all have parts of us that we’ve rejected or relegated to the shadow.

Hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, sadness, shame, fear, the list goes on. These are all parts of being human and when you deny, reject, or repress the negative feelings and emotions, it catches up to you.

It’s not a question of trying to be good. Nor do you have to think that you are a bad person when you have tapped into that shadow side of you.

It’s all about experiencing yourself in all aspects of your humanness.

Shedding Light On Your Shadow

How do you start to become more conscious of your shadow side? It takes awareness of the triggers that “set you off”. 

The next time you react irritably or say something you don’t mean, stop and pay attention to what it was that irked you. What was it that upset you?

When you suddenly feel sad or depressed and don’t know why, take time to look at the situation. Was it something that someone said or did? 

When you do something that you consider to be out of character, take notice of what just happened. Why do you think that it wasn’t you? Why do you feel the negative emotions of guilt and shame? 

Become aware of the times you instantly judge someone and say you don’t like them because there is something about them that rubs you the wrong way. For we are all reflections of one another and the very thing that you dislike in others may be the very thing that you have repressed in your shadow self. 

The shadow is sneaky. Whatever’s in there isn’t waving a flag wanting to be seen. It lurks stealthily in the background of your psyche and slips out when you least expect it. Yet, you can catch it by becoming more conscious of its presence, and then you can acknowledge those shadow parts, heal, and embrace them.

For all they want is to be reintegrated back into your psyche.

Changing Your World

Accepting your shadow side can be challenging. Your ego is threatened and will put up a fight as you start to acknowledge parts of you that have been swept under the psychological carpet. 

Yet, until you start to work with your shadow, you will keep on experiencing the same situations and ask yourself why does history keep repeating itself?

For example, you may have had overbearing parents who controlled every aspect of your life and now you find yourself always attracted to people who are control freaks. Your shadow self tells you that you are incapable of making your own decisions and choices. 

On a spiritual level, you are reaping what you sow. The energy that you give out tends to attract the situations and circumstances that manifest in your life. Repressing parts of your personality means that there are blocks to the flow of energy that could create an entirely different life for you. 

Liberating the shadow takes courage and time. There may be painful and traumatic experiences that surface and you need to deal with these compassionately and with great self-love. On a psychological level, you can work with the shadow by journaling, which you openly acknowledge those parts of you others have deemed undesirable. You can also work with a therapist to explore your shadow side.

As you illuminate, accept your shadow self, and integrate it into your personality, you will find that you experience the world in a completely different light. 

You become more understanding and compassionate toward others, for we are all in the same boat. You have more peace within yourself, as you are no longer fighting against yourself. There is a shift in your energy, so that you start to attract a more rewarding and richer life for yourself. 

One final thing. You have never been a bad person. None of us have. We are all humans with traits in our personalities that run along a continuum. These different parts of you work together to make you whole. 

Embrace yourself in love and light. As you do, you raise your consciousness and are much more apt to enjoy a happier, more fulfilling life.

 

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

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