The Shadow

Is the person you are dating going to be good for you? Or is your new romantic interest stuck in their shadow?

Barbara Eaton, M.Ed


If you are dating someone who is displaying many of the shadow qualities of their Sun Sign, Moon Sign or Rising Sign and few or none of the good qualities, this is a red flag. They are, most likely, repressing large portions of their psychic energies. This may indicate that they are not psychologically and emotionally healthy. These “disowned” aspects of their psyches are manifesting as the negative qualities described below and inhibiting the development of the good qualities.


We all tend to repress some of our instincts, desires or feelings so that we can live up to our standard and image of goodness. We need to see ourselves as good and moral and kind and unselfish. But psychic energies cannot be eradicated by repressing them. Instead they often surface as compulsive behaviors, obsessions, addictions, and other negative traits. Often they find their expression in what psychologists call “projections.” When we project, we are very bothered and very judgmental towards others when they display the disowned parts of ourselves. The clue that indicates that we are stuck in a projection is the degree of our emotional reaction. It’s not simply that we are disapproving of a quality we see in another: it is that we are repulsed and very bothered. We may even obsess about this certain trait that we ”hate.”


As we become more self-aware, mature and psychologically healthy, we become aware of these disowned parts of ourselves. This awareness and acceptance of our shadow side is healing, and then, suddenly, the negative traits of the shadow start to wane.


Check the lists below to see if you or your partner are stuck in the unconscious grip of your shadow. Learn more about what some of the great spiritual teachers have had to say that supports this theory of psychological projection at the end of this article.


Read more about the psychology of the Shadow

Understanding the Shadow : We all have one, but it is nothing to fear.

For instance, a person may not be willing to admit that he has any selfishness in his character. This person views himself/herself as extremely generous, kind and thoughtful. If this individual has repressed awareness of all or most of their selfish desires, he or she may be unable to recognize and see their own selfishness. They are not consciously aware of these aspects of themselves and they genuinely believe that they are never selfish. Then what happens is that anytime he sees selfishness in others, he will react with a very strong negative judgment.   The key to detecting your own or others’ projections is the extreme nature of the judgmental reactions.


Read what many great spiritual teachers have had to say about projection and the denial and repression of our shadow traits.


“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.”

Jesus Christ


“Any negative emotion that is not fully faced and seen for what it is in the moment it arises does not completely dissolve. It leaves behind a remnant of pain.”

Eckhart Tolle: The New Earth  p: 141


“One of the great discoveries of modern western psychology is the fact that, under certain circumstances, 1st person impulses, feelings and qualities become repressed, disowned, or disassociated, and when they do appear, they appear as 2nd person or 3rd person events in my own 1st person awareness. This is one of the half-dozen truly great discoveries of all time in zone #1 psychology, East or West, ancient or modern…Whenever I disown and project my own qualities, they appear as “out there” where they frighten me, irritate me, depress me, obsess me.  And conversely the things in the world that most disturb and upset me about others are actually my own shadow qualities, which are now perceived as ‘out there.’” Ken Wilber from Integral Spirituality


“One does not become enlightened by imaging figures of light but by making darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” Carl Jung


*I must credit Liz Greene, a contemporary astrologer and Jungian psychotherapist, for her insightful work on projection and astrological types. Much of what is in this article on projection and shadow qualities is derived from her work. To read more about this, I recommend her books including and especially Astrology for Lovers, and Relating.


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