Written by Kourtney Lesperance, WLLC 2015-2016
Through the readings and the activities in class, I was educated a lot about what a psychologist named Debbie Ford refers to as our “shadow selves.” She defines these shadowy parts as “natural parts of life which are present in early childhood but are later repressed by parents, teachers, and society and then eventually by ourselves.” Most of the time we are not really conscious that we have these so called shadow selves and often project them onto others as characteristics that we dislike rather than really acknowledging that they are apart of ourselves as well.
Doing this activity in class, it somewhat gave me insight into a bit of myself that had been repressed and literally “shadowed.” We followed along in a video with Debbie Ford where she was having someone realize what their shadow self was and explain to them why it isn’t always a negative thing to have that attribute always muted. I really pride myself on trying hard to never be selfish and put many people before myself in many situations. I realized that I could embrace parts of my shadow self, in my case selfishness, and “allow it to coexist with all [my] other aspects, not making it any more or any less than any other part of” myself. It also came to light that I had grown up experiencing some negative versions of this selfishness in family members that allowed it to shape their lives and their relationships with me and other members of our family, so in contrast to that, I wanted to be as selfless and caring as possible and sort of tucked away any urges or even natural tendencies to be selfish.
Although sometimes these shadow selves can be considered the dark sides of us, “it is in that darkness that [we can] find the happiness and fulfillment [we] have been longing for.” Allowing this selfish shadow of mine to shine through occasionally and possibly stopping people from taking advantage of my overly caring side would be a positive effect of hindering this repression. This activity and discussion about shadow selves really got me thinking about what other aspects of my personality are repressed or why some might be dominant due to the shadowing of others and possibly due to experiences I’ve had throughout my life, and those that I should possibly embrace to increase the positive sides of my personality overall.