Summary of Meeting the Shadow by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams

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  • Post last modified:October 11, 2023

Part 10: Owning Your Dark Side Through Insight, Art, and Ritual

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.



Integrating the shadow is a long and complex ritual that demands effort and attention.

Owning your shadow does not mean gaining enlightenment by banishing the dark or gaining endarkenment by embracing it.

Instead, it involves making conscious of that which isn’t yet.

Integrating your shadow means:

  • Going into the darkest places of your mind where the shame is hidden and the voices silenced.
  • Thinking about why a specific individual irritates or repels you.
  • Why a certain racial group horrifies or captivates you.
  • Why you idolize a lover.
  • Engaging in a discussion with yourself that will lead to self-acceptance.

Jung said dealing with the shadow is a matter of attitude.

  • First, you have to recognize it.

Realizing the evil of human nature can be humbling. This can be done after a betrayal, a lie, or deceit by a friend or family. Then we need to realize that the saint and sinner live also inside us -> we’re not as nice as we think.

Once we have accepted this, we’re ready to accept that embracing our dark side (the very things we repel in ourselves) is worth it as it will make us whole.

Like Beauty embracing the Beast, our beauty is deepened as our beastliness is honored.

  • Second, you need to know what are its qualities and intentions.

To do so, we watch our reactions toward other people. We need to realize that they’re not the enemy, but that an impulse within ourselves makes them appear in this negative way. We can then learn to re-own our projections and repossess our energy.

  • Third, you will have to negotiate with it.

No human ever managed to fully integrate his shadow.

There is no human being who has stopped projecting onto others his dark inferiorities or his light heroic longings.

As we integrate it, we keep on discovering new material to integrate. This never stops.

At some point, however, those qualities we thought were negative seem to become positive, and the other way around.

When a woman’s sensuality and feminine wiles are in the shadow, voluptuous women seem gaudy and manipulative to her. But when her sensuality has been awakened, these same women seem to her like sisters.

Whatever you repress in yourself, you will not like in others.

In a compassionate embrace of the dark side of reality, we become bearers of the light. We open to the other—the strange, the weak, the sinful, the despised—and simply through including it, we transmute it. In so doing, we move ourselves toward wholeness.

Chapter 58: Taking Responsibility for Your Shadow by Kin Wilber

We often project negative qualities in our society as we have equated negative with “undesirable”.

So instead of befriending our negative traits, we alienate them and project them, seeing them in everybody else except ourselves.

Whatever we repress in ourselves, we will project onto somebody else and not like that person for this reason.

All we need to integrate these darker sides is to treat ourselves with kindness and patience.

The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life.


The consequences of projection are twofold:

  1. We believe we lack what we are projecting.
  2. These qualities in the environment appear bigger than they seem, so we sabotage ourselves.

We can spot when we project or not by noticing if we get affected by a piece of information.


  • Jill is prude: ok -> not affected.
  • Jill is prude: OMG THIS MAKES ME ANGRY -> you’re likely repressing your own prudishness.

Same thing when someone asks you to do something and you overreact. You probably repress your own desire to do that thing. Otherwise, you’d just say “no”.

We can undo the projection by realizing it, and owning back that which we hated in others.

What we think the environment does to us is really something we do to ourselves.

If you’re feeling anxiety due to the environment, that’s likely that you repress excitement. When you realize it, you leave the environment alone and take care of this problem within yourself.

  • It’s not the world that is rejecting you, but you who reject the world.
  • “My parents want me to study” -> it’s you who want to study.
  • “My parents need me” -> it’s you who want to be close to your parents.
  • “I am afraid people will leave me” -> it’s you who doesn’t want to engage with other people.
  • “Everybody’s always looking at me critically” -> it’s you who criticizes people.

The idea is to make our self-image acceptable by accusing others of what we are doing ourselves.

We identify our ego with our persona and abandon a huge amount of conscious potential doing so AND of shadow potential. But the shadow always has its say, and forces you into guilt, depression, and fear.

We associate ourselves only with our persona, so we can assume that the shadow is the complete opposite of what we want, like, feel, intend, and believe.

In this way, you can re-own your opposites since you now know what they are.

You will own them, or they will own you—the Shadow always has its say.

Owning your shadow does not necessarily mean acting on them. Most people fear they will succumb to their darkest impulses if they reclaim their shadows, but it’s the opposite: you are a victim of your shadow when it remains unconscious.

The symptoms and discomforts that the shadow is inflicting on us are in fact inflicted by us. It’s like pinching yourself while pretending not to -> you want the pain as much as you want it to be gone.

Thus, the first opposite you might try confronting is your secret and shadowed desire to keep and maintain your symptoms, your unawared desire to pinch yourself.

If you’re asking how you can stop pinching yourself, then you don’t see it. Once you see it, you just stop.

As long as you try to change, you won’t change. Deliberate change doesn’t work because it excludes the shadow.

The key, therefore, is not to get rid of pinching, but to pinch harder so that you can become conscious of the unconscious pinching, and stop.

If you are depressed, try to be more depressed. If you are tense, make yourself even tenser. If you feel guilty, increase your feelings of guilt—and we mean that literally! For by so doing you are, for the very first time, acknowledging and even aligning yourself with your Shadow, and hence are doing consciously what you have heretofore been doing unconsciously.

Do so until you clearly see that you are the one pinching yourself.

Don’t make your situation worse hoping that it will go away.

Be serious about making yourself more depressed, anxious, etc. The purpose is to contact the Shadow, then only will your symptoms disappear.

If you think someone wants to hurt you while you have good intentions toward that person, it’s likely that you are the one who wants to hurt that person.

So not only do you do to yourself what you think the environment wants to do to you, but that which you do to yourself is what you want to do to others.

It is not an affair between you and others but between you and you.

Chapter 59: Eating the Shadow by Robert Bly

There are many ways to reclaim the shadow and one of them is through language (writing). If the language doesn’t seem right, then painting or sculpting may work.

Chapter 60: Taking Back the Disowned Self by Nathaniel Branden

How can someone arrive at such a disconnected stage when we no longer feel our emotions?

First, that’s because we are emotionally repressed by our parents (“don’t cry”; “stop screaming”, etc).

Religious parents tend to believe in the idea of evil and teach their children that some of their emotions are, emotions that they subsequently must learn to control -> this leads the child to disown and repress these feelings -> self-alienation.

The early years of a child are difficult. Sometimes the pain and fear are so big that he learns to deny his feelings as a survival and coping mechanism. In doing so, he loses the capacity to feel altogether.

The average person carries within him the burden of an enormous quantity of unacknowledged and undischarged pain.

Chapter 61: Dialogue With the Demonic Self by Hal Stone and Sidra Winkelman

One should first work with the primary self before working with the demonic energies, as these are not to be played with.

The self has been conditioned to negate demonic energies. The more energy we spend holding them back, the more drained we become.

Exhaustion and fatigue, more often than not, are a function of strong instincts that are being disowned.

Eg: you disowned your anger to such an extent that when you fight with someone, you feel the need to go to sleep rather than get angry.

It requires great courage to allow the voice of the demonic to speak, for so much of what it has to say is unacceptable to our traditional values.

Here’s how you can engage in a conversation with your demonic energies (using myself as an example).

  • May I talk to the part of Aure who would like to be able to do what he wants whenever he wants?
  • May I speak with the not-nice Aure?
  • May I speak with the part of Aure that would like to rule the world?
  • May I talk to the part of female name that would like to be a hooker?
  • Might I talk to the part of Aure that would like to be all-powerful?
  • Might I talk to the part of Aure that feels like killing insensitive people?

All of these are lead-ins to disowned energy patterns that are usually related to repressed instinctual energies.

Chapter 62: Taming the Shameful Inner Voice by John Bradshaw

Most shame-based people feel ashamed when they need help; when they feel angry, sad, fearful or joyous; and when they are sexual or assertive. These essential parts of us have been split off.

We try to act like we’re not needy, like we don’t need anything. By doing so, we cut ourselves from our parts.

These disowned parts appear most commonly in our dreams and in our projections.

Shame-based people have particularly negative inner voices, which are impossible to shut off due to the fantasy bond.

The fantasy bond describes the imaginary bond that children who feel abandoned create with their parents. They idealize their parents and make themselves seem bad. The purpose is survival. He cannot have bad parents as if he does, he won’t survive.

The fantasy bond stays by means of the inner voice.

One way to change the voice is by externalizing it, and saying out loud what it says. This enables catharsis.

Another way is by writing it.

Another way is by translating it:

  • When your voice says, “you are selfish” -> translate by: I didn’t want to do the dishes.
  • “You are stupid”-> I don’t understand math well.

The voice’s statements are generalizations, which means they’re not true.

Chapter 63: Learning Active Imagination by Barbara Hannah

If we cannot accept our shadow for what it is, it will ruin our lives.

Chapter 64: Drawing the Shadow by Linda Jacobson

You can use the images you “see” during guided visualization to gain access to parts of yourself that have been closed to conscious awareness.

Typically, these images are the opposite of your self-image – that is, they are your shadow.

You can then draw them, and make them bigger to better integrate them.

Another way is to draw a figure, someone you absolutely don’t want to see.

Chapter 65: Writing About the Other by Deena Metzger

To contact the shadow, we must be ready to go into the dark as it is where it is.

If we don’t go to it, and the shadow will come to us, and it won’t be pretty.

So, how do we meet the shadow?

By admitting that there are parts of ourselves, which we hate and repress as a consequence.

Here are a bunch of questions you may ask yourself to engage your shadow in writing:

  • What are those qualities or attributes in others that you find least like yourself?
  • What are your most intractable prejudices?
  • With what group do you feel the least affinity?
  • Who are the people you could not and would not imagine being because they revolt, offend, terrify, or enrage you or are beneath you, are grotesque?
  • Under what circumstances would you feel too humiliated to continue living?
  • What horror within yourself would you find unbearable?

Some answers depend on moral or ethical principles, but others will create contempt, loathing, or nausea. There lies your shadow.

Epilogue by Jeremiah Abrams

We each contain the potentials to be both destructive and creative. Admitting to the dark enemies within us is really a confessional act, the beginning of psychological change.

Humor works well, since humor releases the shadow in harmless ways.

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