5. Explore Your Shadow Archetypes
We have a number of Shadow varieties, also called Shadow Archetypes. These archetypes are sometimes defined as:
- The Sorcerer
- The Dictator
- The Victim
- The Shadow Witch
- The Addict
- The Idiot
- The Trickster
- The Destroyer
- The Slave
- The Shadow Mother
- The Hag
- The Hermit
However, I have my own Shadow Archetype classification, which I will include below.
13 Shadow Archetypes
Here are my thirteen classifications which are based on my own self-observations and analysis of others:
1. The Egotistical Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: arrogance, egocentricity, pompousness, inconsiderateness, self-indulgence, narcissism, excessive pride.
2. The Neurotic Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: paranoia, obsessiveness, suspiciousness, finicky, demanding, compulsive behavior.
3. The Untrustworthy Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: secretive, impulsive, frivolous, irresponsible, deceitful, unreliable.
4. The Emotionally Unstable Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: moody, melodramatic, weepy, overemotional, impulsive, changeable.
5. The Controlling Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: suspicious, jealous, possessive, bossy, obsessive.
6. The Cynical Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: negative, overcritical, patronizing, resentful, cantankerous.
7. The Wrathful Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: ruthless, vengeful, bitchy, quick-tempered, quarrelsome.
8. The Rigid Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: uptight, intolerant, obstinate, uncompromising, inflexible, narrow-minded.
9. The Glib Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: superficial, cunning, inconsistent, sly, crafty.
10. The Cold Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: emotionally detached, distant, indifferent, uncaring, unexcited.
11. The Highly-Strung Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: touchy, nervous, reactive, tense, overemotional, hypersensitive.
12. The Cowardly Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: weak-willed, passive, timid, fearful.
13. The Immature Shadow
This Shadow Archetype displays the following characteristics: puerile, childish, illogical, simpleminded, vacuous.
Keep in mind that the above Shadow Archetypes are by no means exhaustive. I’m sure that there are many others out there which I have missed. But you are free to use this breakdown to help you explore your own Shadows. You’re also welcome to add to this list or create your own Shadow Archetypes, which I highly encourage. For example, you might possess a judgmental and dogmatic Shadow who you call “The Nun,” or a sexually deviant Shadow who you call “The Deviant.” Play around with some words and labels, and see what suits your Shadows the best.
6. Have an Inner Conversation
Also known as “Inner Dialogue,” or as Carl Jung phrased it, “Active Imagination,” having a conversation with your Shadow is an easy way to learn from it.
I understand if you might feel a twinge of skepticism towards this practice right now. After all, we are taught that “only crazy people talk to themselves.” But the inner dialogue is regularly used in psychotherapy as a way to help people communicate with the various subpersonalities that they have – and we all possess various faces and sides of our ego.
One easy way to practice inner dialogue is to sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and tune into the present moment. Then, think of a question you would like to ask your Shadow, and silently speak it within your mind. Wait a few moments and see if you ‘hear’ or ‘see’ an answer. Record anything that arises and reflects on it. It is even possible to carry on a conversation with your Shadow using this method. Just ensure that you have an open mindset. In other words, don’t try to control what is being said, just let it flow naturally. You will likely be surprised by the answers you receive!
Visualization is another helpful way of engaging in inner dialogue. I recommend bringing to mind images of dark forests, caves, holes in the ground, or the ocean as these all represent the unconscious mind. Always ensure that you enter and exit your visualization in the same manner, e.g. if you are walking down a path, make sure you walk back up the path. Or if you open a particular door, make sure you open the same door when returning back to normal consciousness. This practice will help to draw you effortlessly in and out of visualizations.
7. Use the Mirror Technique
As we have learned, projection is a technique of the Shadow that helps us to avoid what we have disowned. However, we don’t only project the deeper and darker aspects of ourselves onto others, we also project our light and positive attributes as well. For example, a person may be attracted to another who displays fierce self-assertiveness, not realizing that this quality is what they long to reunite with inside themselves. Another common example (this time negative) is judgmentalism. How many times have you heard someone say “he/she is so judgmental!” Ironically, the very person saying this doesn’t realize that calling another person ‘judgmental’ is actually pronouncing a judgment against them and revealing their own judgmental nature.
The Mirror Technique is the process of uncovering our projections. To practice this technique, we must adopt a mindful and honest approach towards the world: we need to be prepared to own that which we have disowned! Being radically truthful with ourselves can be difficult, so it does require practice. But essentially, we must adopt the mindset that other people are our mirrors. We must understand that those around us serve as the perfect canvas onto which we project all of our unconscious desires and fears.
Start this practice by examining your thoughts and feelings about those you come in contact with. Pay attention to moments when you’re emotionally triggered and ask yourself “am I projecting anything?” Remember: it is also possible to project our own qualities onto another person who really does possess the qualities. Psychologists sometimes refer to this as “projecting onto reality.” For example, we might project our rage onto another person who is, in fact, a rage-filled person. Or we might project our jealousy onto another who genuinely is jealous.
Ask yourself, “What is mine, what is theirs, and what is both of ours?” Not every triggering situation reveals a projection, but they more than often do. Also look for things you love and adore about others, and uncover the hidden projections there.
The Mirror Technique will help you to shed a lot of light onto Shadow qualities that you have rejected, suppressed, repressed, or disowned.