Writing a story where you project your Shadow elements onto the characters is a great way to learn more about your inner darkness.
If stories aren’t your thing, try journaling or keeping a diary every day for a few weeks where you record both good and bad emotions, thoughts, and habits. This practice will help shine a light on the bright and darker elements of your nature. Reading through your journal entries can also help you recover the balance you need in your life, and accept both light and dark emotions within you.
3. Use the World as a Mirror (Projection Technique)
The Shadow describes the part of the psyche that an individual would rather not acknowledge. – John Elder
Projection is at the very heart and soul of the Shadow: it’s how the Shadow hides and protects itself.
Quite simply, we project the qualities of ourselves that we dislike onto others so that we don’t have to deal with them within ourselves. Projection also helps us to avoid taking responsibility for ourselves and instead helps us to make others the culprits and scapegoats for our unresolved issues.
However, projection is actually a powerful shadow work tool that helps us explore our Shadow Selves when done deliberately. When you approach other people and the world at large with mindfulness, you’ll be able to discover who and what you project your Shadow onto (and why).
What’s interesting about the Shadow is that we not only project our negative traits and elements onto others but our good ones as well. It’s as if we unconsciously refuse to embrace our noble elements because the Ego is afraid that these positive elements will change and upset our current personality structure.
So how do we practice the projection technique?
In a nutshell, use the world as a mirror. Observe what you secretly like or dislike in other people, entertainment outlets (TV, books), and situations.
For instance, current movies and television shows reflect our deep interest in the darker aspects of ourselves. Why else would we have such fascination with this constant battle between good and evil forces? Superhero, fantasy, or action films depict the Heroes vs. Villains dichotomy, while we also fall in love with charming characters that embrace their dark sides such as Dexter, The Joker, or Walter White (Breaking Bad).
Often our noblest Shadow traits are projected onto the people we like, admire or fall in love with. The opposite is also true: and the most defenseless of beings can become the carriers of your negative projected Shadow Self traits. Children, for example, provide the perfect outlet for our anger, frustration, and other negative emotions. The smallest of accidents or naughty actions can be punished with disproportionate and destructive wrath. Pets too are unfortunately just as vulnerable. Projection, for many of us, is always easier than assimilation.
Projection, no matter whether light or dark is always something detrimental. You not only burden another person with your dark elements or pressures of idolization, but you also avoid taking responsibility for your Shadow and lose the opportunity of finding a state of ecstatic Wholeness.
So use the word as your mirror. Write down what you observe about yourself. Be open-minded and receptive. Show kindness toward yourself. Soon you will be on your way to reclaiming all parts of yourself and move closer and closer toward Wholeness.
Finally, a few more ideas for meeting your Shadow Self might include:
- Practicing meditation each day (for 30 minutes or longer) often shines the light on Shadow parts
- Developing more self-awareness (this allows you to become more conscious of your words, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, thus allowing you to identify your faults more easily)
- Asking friends, partners, or loved ones what they feel are your greatest personality faults
- Ensuring that you adopt an analytical, non-judgmental, and compassionate attitude toward yourself, rather than playing the role of the prosecutor, judge, or defender which hinders your ability to embrace your Shadow Self fullyFor more guidance, see our shadow work article.