In the previous article , we talked about what is shadow, why and how it develops. As we mentioned, hiding the shadow is a tiring task both physically and emotionally, so it finds a way out every once in a while. Therefore you must be aware of the behavioral signs of its release, in order to save yourself from the effects of these darker traits that people are hiding. The signs are as follows.

Contradictory Behavior

This is the most easy to understand sign of all. It comprises of acts that clearly go against the popular persona of a person. For example, a person is very enthusiastic about morality but is found secretly involved in quite compromising situations. Or if someone outwardly seems tough, but at times shows signs of extreme insecurity and hysteria. Or a person preaches freedom and liberty but becomes himself exceedingly domineering and authoritarian. All of these signs are clearly expressions of the shadow. A big sign would be that they’ll go to extreme lengths in apologizing for such behavior, more evidence of the shadow. See how hard they are trying to hide and suppress it. So watch out for such conflicting behavior, it contains important clues about their dark traits that they are hiding.  

Over Idealization

This is probably the most “EFFECTIVE COVER” for the shadow. What happens is that people would pick a great “cause” for themselves. These causes are mostly progressive ones, that tend to sell in the society or at least they fill a vacuum created in the society. Over time, the proponents would get overzealous and extra enthusiastic about their cause. They begin talking in black and white terms and propose sweeping reforms. They start moralizing the whole situation in which they are the “right ones”, and all against them are “the bad guys”, who don’t want the society to progress or belong to this mafia or that. In pursuing these “just” causes, they think they are “allowed to commit every act of immorality that they can”. They can lie, cheat, manipulate, spy, abuse, and personally attack their opponents. “Just because the cause is just, they are allowed to use any means to get there”. Well, this is not actually their passion for the cause instead, it’s the shadow reining free. They are just using this moral façade to legitimize the actions of their dark side. Politicians and other leaders are a great example of this.

Joseph Stalin

Communist and socialist revolutions of the previous century probably serve as the classic examples of this phenomenon. These movements preached equality. They promised egalitarian societies. To rid the poor from the oppression of the rich. Instead, they became the worst oppressors and killers themselves. They gave the world monsters like joseph Stalin. They forced people to work in Gulags, ripped them of their basic human rights and freedoms, and established the worst kinds of dictatorships. Ultimately communism itself became a symbol of oppression and authoritarianism. But all this was done in the name of ‘equality’. In fact, the entire human history has been an example of this disease. Behind every imperial project and religious persecution campaigns, were some absurd worldviews and utopian dreams. What do you think convinced the NAZIS to exterminate the Jews, it was the idea of creating a pure Arian race.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

The destruction that this phenomenon has inflicted upon the world is just horrifying. If you look carefully, you can still find such politicians who preach same kinds of sweeping worldviews, but once they come into power, they become totally different creatures. It’s no cause that’s driving them, it’s their God damn shadow. Remember, don’t be fooled by the words and lengthy lectures they deliver on transforming the lives of people, “just look to what lengths they are willing to go to get what they want”.


This is the most common method that people use to deal with their shadow, probably because it provides a daily release. In this process, if we cannot admit certain desires we have regarding sex, money, power, domination, because of the society or any other reason, we begin to project and blame all these secret desires onto other people. A great sign of such projection is that we become overly exaggerated, judgmental and moralizing.

For example, we would blame a person of being authoritarian when he is just defending himself, it’s actually our own craving for power that we want to vent out by passing judgment.  Or you would find religious preachers in some patriarchal societies who would talk about women in overtly sexual terms, blaming them for causing sexual corruption, by seducing men. It’s actually their own dark fantasies and frustrations that are being projected onto women. Similarly, if a person secretly wants to become a part of Elite and enjoy wealth, he would start ranting against those that represent the elite. You will notice, just as these people would become a part of the elite, they’d shut up their vehement criticism and suddenly their values have changed. Remember, “Behind any strong hatred is secret envy of the hated person or people”.

Vehement Denial

Sigmund Freud

As Freud said, “the only way something unpleasant or uncomfortable in our unconscious could surface in the conscious mind is by repeated active denial”. What it simply means is that what you advocate so strongly against, may very well be the thing you secretly cherish. You might have experienced this yourself. For example, if you secretly want to cry and need emotional comfort but somehow that does not suit your public and social image as in many societies, you will rant against these signs of weakness while secretly wanting to do these things. Such people tend to find ways in their secret lives to live their dreams. Therefore repeated and passionate denials should be seen as expressions of the yearnings of the shadow.

In the third and final article of the series, we’ll learn strategies on integrating your shadow with the rest of your personality so that it becomes an asset to you rather than something to hide and suppress.

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