Grow your Shadow-self

In the last century, popular understandings of Shadow came from Freudian and Jungian psychology which postulated an unconscious full of dark forbidden impulses, memories, beliefs, and tendencies which we avoided through suppression, repression, and all the other defense mechanisms. The belief was that this Shadow material would arise in dreams and problems to cause us trouble and interfere with our lives.
With the advent of brain imaging technologies and the expanding discipline of Interpersonal Neurobiology, we’ve discovered how the unconscious really works. There are vast stores of memories, experiences, tendencies, and habits in our adaptive unconscious based in our integrated brain trying to guide us to having a life worth living. Our brain, interacting with thousands of inputs from our inner and outer worlds, sends us states, memories, and reactions in response to those inputs. There is an incredible universe of data and information processing that goes on outside of our conscious awareness and constantly guides us—either constructively or destructively. Interpersonal neurobiologists call this vast system our adaptive unconscious. I call it our Shadow-self.

Our Shadow-selves create responses to stimuli within 50 milliseconds. After a half second or so, our conscious self can be aware of the state, memories, impulses, and feelings being generated, and make decisions about how to proceed. Constructive Shadow material is when the states, impulses, and memories our adaptive unconscious generates help us grow and connect effectively. Destructive Shadow material is when the states, impulses, and memories distort us and drive us to believe and behave in unhealthy ways.

A central challenge of human development is to grow our Shadow-self to embrace constructive Shadow guidance and transform destructive Shadow into constructive Shadow.

Starting with Shadow Light: Illuminations at the Edge of Darkness, this page guides you to a modern understanding of your Shadow-self and offers a number of tools to understand and grow your Shadow-self.

Click to any of the following resources to begin growing your Shadow-self right now:

Related Books


Shadow Light Workbook

Recording Our Shadow Journey
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Shadow Light

Illuminations at the Edge of Darkness
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Recommended Resources

Audio, Videos, Lectures, podcasts, TEDx talks, and Therapist in the Wild episodes (short rants on important issues), and articles related to this topic.