Taking on the challenge of your shadow side: getting to know and embrace your disowned selves

Taking on the challenge of your shadow side: getting to know and embrace your disowned selves
We, humans, are made up of a wonderful mixture of selves and energy patterns. Some energies are familiar to us and feel familiar, other energies feel strange and unfamiliar, and some energies are terribly against us. This article take a closer look at the origin of the latter group of energies – our disowned selves – and the consequences for our lives.

With every disowned self there is an opposing energy with which the ego and the protector/controller have identified.

What are disowned selves?

Disowned selves are energy patterns that have been partially or completely banned from our lives. They can be angelic spiritual, creative and mystical, as well as lustful, selfish and even devilish. To better understand this process, let’s take a closer look at how we reject ourselves.

What is a disowned self? Take a moment to think of someone you deeply dislike, someone with character traits that you find particularly objectionable. Why is this figure worthy of your contempt? List all the qualities you find despicable. If you’re glad you’re nothing like this person, you’ve discovered your first disowned self. The traits in that person that irritate you reflect an energy pattern that you do not want to integrate into your life under any circumstances.

A disowned self can be identified by a fierce, often uncharacteristic response to someone else. The following examples illustrate this:

  • • A man who has been an honest, sincere, and faithful husband for 30 years becomes very angry when he encounters a woman who “has no idea what being faithful means, is not committed in a relationship and feels that a relationship is not more than two days of making love to someone she never sees again.’
  •  A dreamy, spiritual young man finds his financially successful older brother “almost a devil in his pursuit of money, power, and women.”
  •  An attentive, gentle, and kind woman can’t stand her boss who is “mean and selfish and only interested in results.”
  • A tough, self-assured man can’t stand ‘weaknesses’ and ‘victims’. “I find them nauseating!”

These examples make it clear that the disowned selves evoke strong emotions. That these emotions are evoked is a result of the enormous energy in the disowned energy pattern itself and of the energy, it takes to keep the self disowned. No wonder strong feelings are evoked when we see a disowned self-reflected in someone else.

The difference between disowned selves and unconscious selves

Taking on the challenge of your shadow side: getting to know and embrace your disowned selves

There is an important distinction between disowned selves and unconscious selves: in general, we call an I of which we are not aware an unconscious I, but not all unconscious selves are necessarily rejected selves. An unconscious self is simply unconscious – there is no question of using energy to suppress it or keep it unconscious.

On the other hand, with every disowned self there is opposing energy with which the ego and the protector/controller have identified. A woman who has deeply hidden a disowned self, which stands for the unrestrained expression of sexuality, probably considers herself a model of morality and self-discipline. This opposite self, which esteems morality and self-discipline, in conjunction with the protector/controller keeps its disowned self at a constant distance. However, we can say that we only know that we have disowned an I when we are aware of it.

It is important to understand the concept of the disowned selves and to actively address the challenges we face as our disowned selves emerge. The challenge of creatively embracing these selves is perhaps the most difficult task in the development of our consciousness.

Disowned selves and destructive relationships

The parts we identify with usually determine who we want to start a relationship with. For example, if we have identified with a rational I, that I want us to form relationships with rational people. Although our disowned selves repel us, they also fascinate us to a greater or lesser extent. The highly outraged, down-to-earth citizen who thinks pornography is not allowed but spends months evaluating pornographic material, is a good example of this type of behavior.

Although the attraction of a disowned self that we recognize in another can often lead to an integration of this energy, unfortunately, we more often see people having destructive relationships with those who represent their disowned selves.

A woman who denies her sexuality and her body can become fascinated by a macho and marry him. However, she then goes out of her way to tame his sexuality and keep him at home. He was attracted by her shy, unphysical way of life and found it fascinating that she was sexually distant.

Now that they are married, he is going to object to her behavior. Instead of learning from each other and integrating their disowned selves, they live together with their disowned selves, which they see reflected in the other, with the result that they constantly judge and anger each other.

Taking on the challenge of your repudiated me in the relationship

Taking on the challenge of your shadow side: getting to know and embrace your disowned selves

We can be the helpless victims of a partner who reflects our disowned selves, but we can also face the challenge that such a relationship poses and ask the question, “What can this person or situation teach me?” When we ask this question, that in itself is a marked shift in consciousness.

Much stress is the result of our tendency to re-establish relationships with people who reflect our disowned selves. Unfortunately, few people are supported enough to learn the lesson that comes with such processes. Without this support, the energy of the disowned selves only grows stronger and stronger.

When natural, instinctive energies such as survival instincts, sexuality, and aggression are rejected for a long time, they reverse into the subconscious mind, where they undergo a significant change. Energy cannot be destroyed and therefore these instincts now begin to work on a subconscious level and accumulate more energy. They soon lose their natural qualities and become evil. When the time comes, we’ll give them a new name: demonic energies. These demonic energies can make their way into our daily lives and cause destructive, fierce behavior, harming ourselves or our environment.

Exercise to get to know disowned selves

  • After reading these short examples you may already recognize your ‘allergies’ to certain character traits.
  • Take a moment to list for yourself what is troubling you.
  • Which of the character traits you’ve written down makes you feel ‘I’m so glad I’m not like that?
  • There you will find your disowned selves.
  • You can also think back to times when you did not react ‘as yourself’ to a situation or someone else.



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