Have you ever tried to catch your shadow?  Sure you have.  Remember when you were young and you would see your shadow and you would try to catch up to it or step on it?  It would always be one step ahead of you, anticipating your every move and remaining just out of your reach. 

The ancient Egyptians believed that we lived a dual life.  There is our “light self” that represents the dreams and ideals that are blended or bonded into our everyday lives.  And then there is our “shadow self” that exist outside of our normal rites, rituals and routines.  Our shadow selves are the desires and dreams that we keep hidden, or at least tried to keep hidden.  They are a part of us and yet not a part of us, dwelling just outside of our reach. 

Carl Jung believed in shadows too.  He believed that every person is made of light and shadow.  We project light but we resist shadow.  For Jung, our shadow selves are the irrational and instinctive parts of our nature.  Our shadow selves run on impulse, sometimes fueled by anger, desire, or passion.  Rather than keep them at a distance, he believed that wholeness in our humanity only comes about when we own the shadow side of our nature.  Rather than fear it, he believed we should embrace it, and claim for ourselves the dark places within, our impulses and passions, the things we may not want others to see. Until we do, we will never be whole.  We will be like Peter Pan forever trying to find his own shadow knowing that without it, something essential was missing.

We humans are complicated beings.  We like to project to others our “light selves” and keep hidden the darker impulses of our nature.  But the reality is we are both light and shadow.  And it is the shadows, as much as the light, that bring contour and character to us.  If our goal is to be whole and complete, we need to make friends with our shadows.  Instead of heaping upon them judgment and derision, we should see them for what they are, an integral part of our humanity.  After all our failures and faults, our dreams and desires, have made us who we are as much as our achievements and accolades.   Maybe even more so.   Our shadows deserve understanding and compassion.  They have a lot of teach us about who we are and who we may wish to become. 

The next time you see your shadow, instead of trying to step on, welcome it as a friend, or as a piece of the puzzle there to help you complete the full picture of yourself.