How to Embrace Your Shadow and Overcome Uncertainty

There are parts of you that you need to shed light on, embrace, and become aware of. Only then will you feel complete and have enough strength to face your difficulties and feelings of uncertainty. Here, we explain how you can achieve it.
How to Embrace Your Shadow and Overcome Uncertainty
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 07 February, 2023

Have you spent a great deal of your life feeling that something is wrong with you? Do you feel stuck? Do you believe that you’re unable to achieve the well-being you need and that your fears are preventing you from achieving your goals? It happens to all of us. We all suffer from insecurities, fears, and traumas.

In 1959, Carl Jung wrote that no one can become aware of their shadow without considerable psychological effort. However, realizing the darker and more uncomfortable aspects of your psyche would undoubtedly allow you to embrace your uncertain present. Moreover, you’d feel freer and more fulfilled.

Therefore, taking a journey into the depth of your being can be both revealing and healing. That said, the archetype of the shadow lacks empirical evidence and isn’t a clinical resource validated by science. However, that doesn’t detract from its value. In fact, it’s an interesting metaphor for the areas of your personal universe that you should attend to if you want to heal yourself.

We all have different internal areas that are somewhat hidden. Therefore, embracing them isn’t easy. That said, doing so allows you to create a space in which to process realities that you’ve been neglecting for a long time.

“Shadow work is the path of the heart warrior.”

-Carl Jung-

Embrace your shadow and face your difficulties

The idea that human beings have a ‘dark side’ was proposed by Carl Jung a few decades ago. For a while, Jung was an outstanding student of Sigmund Freud. But, he ended up completely distancing himself from the father of psychoanalysis to develop his own theoretical school of analytical psychology.

The shadow is an archetype. It’s an archaic pattern or image of the unconscious that contains different processes and repressed realities. They’re elements that you hide due to pressure from society. They’re also the experiences and emotions that you hide because you don’t really know what to do with them.

In that deep space where the light doesn’t reach, lie your useless beliefs and fears. For instance, jealousy, anger, shame, feelings of failure, negativity, and even traumas or disorders such as depression. Unearthing and shedding light on these areas is a responsible exercise. Only then will you feel more prepared to deal with a present that’s defined by uncertainties. Here’s how to do it.

1. Develop your self-awareness

In a research paper, the British anthropologist and academic, Caroline Humphrey, claims that current approaches based on spirituality almost exclusively concern enlightenment. They mention the inherent need to find our inner light. However, no one can achieve human development without working on their dark side.

This need is addressed by the field of transpersonal psychology. Therefore, if you want to embrace your shadow, one way of achieving it is by awakening your self-awareness. This means you must make contact with who you are and what you feel, as well as every thought that emerges in your mind, and each sensation and perception.

Being self-aware means having the ability to look in the mirror of your interior so you know what’s happening. Only by doing this will you gain self-knowledge to face every challenge that life brings you.

2. Label your emotions

When you embrace your shadow, you make contact with the underlying factors that completely condition how you feel, what you do, and the decisions you make. It’s essential that you connect with these underlying emotions that dominate the substratum of your psyche. The kinds that cause you anguish and veto your freedom and well-being.

As Carl Jung said, consciousness isn’t reached without pain. This implies giving birth to what you feel. To do this, the following strategy will help:

  • Ask yourself what you feel right now. Let your emotions surface without judging them. Give them space.
  • Name each emotion. Label them to give them visibility and presence.
  • These are the states that you’ve kept hidden. Once they come out of the darkness, they need an answer. What could you do to appease your feelings of frustration? What change should you make to stop feeling sad, hopeless, or angry? Think about it.

As soon as you take control of your emotional universe, the world will seem less chaotic and unpredictable. In fact, you’ll trust yourself more in facing uncertainty.

“The most terrifying thing is accept oneself completely.”

-Carl Jung-

3. Discover your potential and hidden talents

Carl Jung’s analytical psychology highlighted the interesting concept of individuation. It’s a process that favors the awakening of your individual conscience and the liberation of fear and resistance. This task implies embracing your shadow and working on your dark parts to become a complete and fulfilled human being.

But, how can you achieve it? In addition to the keys indicated here, there’s one decisive element. It’s the fact that every human being has their own talents and potentials, those that mark their destiny. Indeed, Jung emphasized that every individual is unique and has their own destiny. Therefore, you should explore what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and what defines you.

The moment you find a passion and a purpose, tomorrow will open up with new hope. There’ll be no room for uncertainty in such a solid and defined space.

girl thinking about how to hug your shadow
Integrating your shadow into your conscious universe to work on it allows you to achieve well-being.

4. Understand the natural law of life

The writer and anthropologist, Joseph Campbell, claimed that the treasures of life are found in the abysses. He believed that embracing your shadow and descending into that deep space is where you find your strengths. You’ll reach them by solving all your pending tasks and healing your wounds that still hurt.

You must also understand the law of existence. Today, we’re all currently struggling with a present defined by complexities and an unpredictable future. However, the evolution of existence has never been a straight line. Just as there are times of calm, there are times of turbulence.

Black swans, as the Lebanese researcher Nassim Taleb points out, are those unforeseen events that dominate the future of the human being and for which you must be prepared. In fact, light couldn’t exist without darkness, so you should accept its presence by making contact with it, and understanding it.

Embrace your shadow and feel free

We all have more than one internal ‘monster’ that imprisons us and puts shackles on our happiness. Making a trip to that hellish place where it lives or to those more painful and complicated areas of your interior is no easy task. That said, if you feel that it’s an excessively tortuous endeavor and you’re aware of your own unhappiness, you should seek professional help.

Finally, the concept of shadow is nothing more than a metaphor for all the psychological processes that prevent you from feeling complete and fulfilled. Working on them promotes good mental health.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Humphrey, Caroline (2015). “Shadows Along the Spiritual Pathway. Journal of Religion and Health. 54 (6): 2376–2388. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0037-2
  • Jung, Carl (2009) Arquetipos e inconsciente colectivo. Paidos
  • Staude, John Raphael (1976). “From Depth Psychology to Depth Sociology: Freud, Jung, and Lévi-Strauss” Theory and Society. 3 (3): 303–338. doi:10.1007/BF00159490

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.