Taking Ownership of your Shadow and Becoming Whole

In the last article we talked about what projection is, how it works, and what the “shadow” is. Briefly, “shadow” is a catchall term used to name everything about us that has been repressed into our unconscious. The shadow is the part of ourselves that we are not aware of. If you haven’t read the last article, you can see it here.

In this post, we will talk about how to deal with the shadow in a healthy way.

The Three Steps to Integrating your shadow:

Awareness, Acceptance, and Ownership

  • AAO are the three principles and steps that bring about wholeness.  
  • They are sequential in that one builds upon the other. 
  • They are principles in that they are unique and irreducible.

We will look at these as sequential steps towards integrating the shadow.

Awareness (Mind)

We can’t accept what we can’t see. So the first step is becoming aware of our shadows.

Principle: Awareness isn’t the same as a thought. Awareness is simply the quality of being aware of a something. Every something is an object that awareness surrounds. As an analogy, awareness is the sky, and thoughts are the clouds in the sky. Knowing the difference is KEY!

How to: Shadow projections make themselves known by appearing in others. All you need to do is notice when you are triggered by someone or something. 

  • What is it about them that bothers you? (Be specific.)
  • How do you react when you get triggered by them? 
  • Where can you find that exact trait in yourself? (However infinitesimally small.)

Acceptance (Emotion)

Principle: Acceptance is only transformative when it lives as something that is felt. To simply just think it is not enough. Acceptance must be something you feel. This can’t be faked. 

How to: So how do you begin accepting that which has been unacceptable to you for your entire life? You have to start becoming the ideal parent you always wished your parents had been. 

  • Ask yourself, “what could’ve your parent(s) done differently that would have had them be the ideal parent towards me?”
  • Describe this ideal parent and write it down on paper. 
  • Ask yourself, “how would the ideal parent relate to this part of me?”
  • Describe exactly how they would do this. 
  • Now meet your “unacceptable” shadow with this ideal parent. Treat this part of you the way you wanted your parents to treat you.


Ownership (Action)

If acceptance is the internal aspect of integration, then ownership is it’s external aspect. It’s not enough to just accept that we have a shadow. We also have to actively work with it in a constructive way in our lives. 

Principle: Ownership is the choice to take responsibility for all your parts. It is the intentional move out of playing the victim and into action that is aligned with who you really are. 

How to: You have to stop blaming others and start minding your own business. Minding your own business means working with your shadows in a constructive and healthy way. Yes, others might genuinely carry those traits you despise; but focusing on their problems isn’t going to help you or them. 

  • Notice what triggers you in another person.
  • How exactly would you like them to be different?
  • Now do that! In your own way, start doing what you want them to do!

At first this might seem like a lot of steps, but once you’ve run through it a few times you will notice that it will take on a life of its own. You will start to become more aware of what bothers you, and how to work with that in a constructive way that makes you whole again. 

In the next post, I will go into more depth into Ownership. Taking ownership is using transformational alchemy on yourself. I call it alchemy because we are transmuting the shadow into light, and it’s one of the most loving things you can do for yourself and the world.

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