Simply get a blank piece of paper, find a quiet place, and turn your attention inwards. You may like to ask your Shadow, “what do you want me to know right now?” and then paint or draw whatever comes to mind. Even the strangest mental images or scenarios can hold a seed of wisdom, helping to reveal hidden feelings, thoughts, or memories.
Make sure you approach this activity non-judgmentally and with an open mind. When you fear judgment from yourself, you’ll be inhibited and won’t be able to benefit fully from this practice. So be gentle and receptive. Allow whatever to arise, arise. Remember that your Shadow is a part of you, but it doesn’t define you.
Goethe’s Faust is, in my opinion, one of the best works featuring the meeting of an Ego and his Shadow Self. His story details the life of a Professor who becomes so separated and overwhelmed by his Shadow that he comes to the verge of suicide, only to realize that the redemption of the Ego is solely possible if the Shadow is redeemed at the same time.
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.