Taming the shadow

20 May 2014
Written by Vanessa Kenny
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We all have two sides, the light and the dark.  Learning to tame the shadow, as Vanessa writes, is part of the journey to create and maintain inner balance  


Having recently read about 'shadow work' by modern-day spiritual and evolutionary gurus Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williams and the founder of The Shadow Effect Debbie Ford, I realise how most of us seem to live in a world where we exist semi-conscious of our so- called dark side. I now understand why it is that seemingly together people can commit random acts, sometimes terrible ones that ruin other people's lives and their own.

So to the Shadow; according to Debbie Ford the Shadow was formed long ago usually though our childhood experiences - how we responded to them or took them on board. For example we may have felt anger at an injustice in childhood, but we may have buried that anger and created the belief that being angry is unacceptable in our world. Anger then becomes part of our shadow, therefore something that we want or feel we need to hide away from the world…a bad thing.

Ford also said that the Shadow holds all that we try to hide from those we love and all that we don’t want other people to think about us or find out about us.  Our Shadow - the parts we believe are not acceptable to our friends and family and most importantly ourselves is made up of everything that annoys, horrifies or disgusts us about other people and ourselves. As the great Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung says, our Shadow is the person we would rather not be.

Holy moley, no wonder we want to bury that shadow deep.  But - yes, there’s always a but, the gift of our shadow side is that when we cast light or awareness onto these feelings and emotions, acknowledging their existence without dwelling on them and then moving on, we set ourselves free from their hold on us. By burying them deeper we just create a bigger problem. Umm another life- long project me thinks but a totally worthwhile one on my personal road to wellness or wholeness.  

What can and does happen, as we can all bear witness to on a personal, local and even world scale, is that when the shadow is repressed and denied and a trigger happens sometimes through stress etc the shadow can rear its ugly head and cause mayhem.  Yep, we have all heard stories of the quiet friendly neighbour who one day loses the plot and commits a terrible crime or the sports star who has everything going for them but is found out one day to have a whole other life going on. This is the shadow at work, the repressed dark side expressed.

It's not all bad folks; we all have pain and hurt, 'a shadow side', but as the ancients say there is no light without the dark and vice versa – therein lies the balance. Our mission is to shine light on the shadow for ourselves and acknowledge our humanness so that we can move forward from its pain. It is only then that we can start to have true compassion when others act or react from their shadow-side.

In some way it feels a relief to know that I no longer have to deny my own shadow side. It is valid and part of me and as I often say to my clients if I were perfect I wouldn’t be here; I’d be flying around with angel wings looking at everyone else.

Life’s a journey, it’s for living, forgiving and thanks giving.  Acknowledge the Shadow and may the force be with you.

There is an old Cherokee story that helps us understand a little of the shadow:

A grandfather of the tribe is asked by some children why do people fight; his answer is this. ‘We all have two wolves inside of us and these wolves are always fighting. One is a white wolf filled with love, peace and compassion the other a black wolf filled with fear, anger and arrogance, they battle constantly. Then he stops…But grandfather, which wolf wins? The wise Cherokee answers, ”the one that we feed the most”.


  • For Reiki Healing, Therapeutic Massage and Flower Essence Consultations at clinic or via e-mail please contact Vanessa Kenny
    email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
    phone: 06-364 3992 
    or txt: 027-4930988
  • First Light Flower Essences of New Zealand® were co-created by Franchelle Ofsoske-Wyber and Tony Wyber. In 2008, Franchelle was awarded the New Zealand Health Industry Distinguished Services Award for Research and Development.




+1 #1 Anna 2014-06-26 18:47
What an inspired article, thank you. That's really put things into perspective for me. A great way to think about dualities

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