How to Come Home to Yourself

“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” ~Zen Proverb

There was once a man who loved to complain and find fault with everyone and everything. Nothing pleased him, so he moved from one town to another, declaring as he left each place:

“I am going to another town, where the people are friendlier.”

A wise man perceived what the problem was, and as the angry man began striding along the dusty road to yet another destination, the wise man compassionately called out:

Oh brother, moving from place to place does not serve you well. Wherever you go, there you will also find yourself. Your shadow is always with you.”

It took me a long time to understand that, in part, this was my story too. In early 2001, after taking leave of my job and arriving at an ashram in India, I anticipated the months there would be filled with experiences of light, peace, and expansion.

However, within days I was assigned to work with a young woman who could be charming one minute and explosive the next. I was shocked and began pondering:

“How could such an angry person be in this sacred place?”

Finally, after an episode of her screaming, purple with rage in response to the way I had handled a project, I realized it was time to take a deeper look at myself.

Self-reflection took little time to reveal that there was anger, oodles of it, bubbling under the surface of my calm demeanor. Safely kept in check for as long as I could remember, the rarified energy of this meditative environment was revealing my long lost friend, the “shadow.”

For the first time I began to recognize that this woman’s anger belonged to me, and what’s more, what I was seeing was just the tip of the iceberg.

With this acknowledgement, every hidden nuance of anger, in all its glorious forms began revealing itself. Frustration, despair, irritation, disappointment, and depression all came up for air after being hidden underground for so long.

During my time in India, I wrote in my journal, contemplated each experience, and asked the shadow to be revealed in dreams. I was also led to experiment with self-inquiry exercises.

One simple exercise went like this:

  • Write down the names of at least five people (living or dead) who inspire you. Alongside each name, identify one positive quality that they embody. For example: Mother Theresa: Compassion
  • Acknowledge that in order to recognize these qualities, they must be in you. They are already “yours.”
  • Assume the direct opposite of each quality. For example: Mother Theresa – Cold/Uncaring.
  • Take a moment to recognize and acknowledge that each “negative” quality must also be yours. Now ask:
  • “How do you serve me?” and “What must I learn from you?”

When I gently asked questions to the cold/uncaring qualities, the responses were enlightening. I heard:

“I serve you when you are not clear about your boundaries and take on too much. You must learn to honor your needs and know when to say “No!”

In that moment, I realized that the shadow also contains positive qualities, and in order to be authentic, I needed to take ownership of both positive and negative projections.

Though simple, shadow exercises should not be underestimated. They are very, very powerful. They allow us to tap into energy that has formerly been repressed. Once released, a dynamic force is unleashed, initiating immediate changes in our consciousness and in our lives.

What we are actually doing is re-establishing these qualities and the energy inherent in them, to our psyche. Because of the power of the energy, this work is transformational. It can also be unnerving.

At its very core, the shadow is the collective name given to aspects of ourselves we are not taking ownership of because of fear.

On a subconscious level, we are afraid that if people (or the community) “knew the truth,” we would be judged, reviled, rejected, or worse, thrown out.

As a consequence, we try to hide what we believe is unacceptable. This pattern of behavior begins from the moment we are born. A normal aspect of growing up is that we are taught what constitutes appropriate social behavior and what does not.

However, on a subtle or not so subtle level, we might also learn from our parents or caregivers that “being creative” is unacceptable, or that expressing moderate anger or frustration is going against the norms of society.

When we internalize these messages, we form beliefs about what is “wrong” with us and repress them so deeply they become unconscious. What we do not realize is that these aspects of who we are mustfind expression, and so we project them onto other people, organizations, or the world at large.

This is how and why the shadow includes both all that we determine we dislike about ourselves and all the wonderful creative potential we are blind to being gifted with.

In addition, when we begin taking ownership of the shadow, we must also understand that this work is not about “becoming someone else,”like the notion of an “improved” version of who we think we are.

Some people become addicted to becoming spiritual athletes, believing that if they meditate for longer and longer periods each day, endure fasts, and chant non-stop, they will attain enlightenment. While these practices are a beneficial and beautiful support for stilling the mind, entering presence, and becoming aware of resistances, they are not “it.”

Indulging in long hours of practices as a way of trying to fundamentally change who we are, is often a camouflage for lack of self-worth or even self-hatred.

Instead, what we must do is wake up to what we are repressing, own what we are “putting out there,” and re-claim our inherent gifts, skills, and talents.

In support of this we can also ask:

  • Which gifts have I been neglecting?
  • How can I start to make life choices in support of what I have to offer?

Ultimately, shadow work marks the beginning of the end and is a turning point on the spiritual path.

In essence, we are electing to grow up and stop finding fault with everyone and everything “out there.”

Then, as if by magic, the return to our natural state of unity consciousness begins to break through like the light of a new dawn. And we discover there is no longer a desire to keep running.

We have simply, joyfully, and gratefully come home to who we really are.

Lori’s Note: Julie has generously offered to give away 25 free subscriptions for her 7-week online course, Be Your Own Guru. It explores how to utilize the power of the mind and transform the shadow aspects of the psyche in order to align with your innate gifts, skills, and talents.

To enter to win, leave a comment below! You can enter until midnight PST on Friday, March 2nd.  

Photo by Kara Allyson

About Julie Hoyle

Julie Hoyle is a spiritual teacher, natural intuitive and trans-personal hypnotherapist. Her profound spiritual awakening is detailed in her eBook, An Awakened Life- A Journey of Transformation. She offers online courses, soul purpose readings, and energy retrieval at: 

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  • Damien Willis

    This is a fantastic post, and I’d love the opportunity to win Julie’s course!

  • erin

    me too me too! 

  • Bobby Cupparo

    Awesome post! Love it!

  • Susan Kirk

    Beautiful post! I have been really trying to work with my shadow side recently, it’s super intense, but it’s been really helpful. I’m going to try your journaling exercise. I think it might work for me. Thank you!

  • Ash

    Really inspiring. Thank you 🙂

  • Listendarling

    Thank you for this! I’m looking forward to initiating this exercise this week.

  • Littleblackdogs

    Interesting article. Has given me something to explore about myself.

  • Kelly

    Made me think !!

  • Roberts503eric

    When I read ” indulging in long hours of practices as a way to try to fundamentally change who we are…” my mind was stunned for a few seconds. That section really hit home, it is time I start embracing my positive qualities as well as my negatives ones.

  • “Instead, what we must do is wake up to what we are repressing, own what we are “putting out there,” and re-claim our inherent gifts, skills, and talents.”

    Great advice, all around! 🙂 I really loved this. Thank you.

  • Katharinefrances

    I found this post to be very powerful. I am going to try the shadow exercises. Thank you!

  • wow is all I have to say about this post, it’s rather life changing. Thank you!

  • Katie

    Beautiful!! Thank you : )

  • Erica

    Enjoyed your post, but am curious about something.. “Acknowledge that in order to recognize these qualities, they must be in you. They are already ‘yours.'” –I’ve heard this said before, but am wondering why you feel this is true? I would think you could be observant of a quality someone else has because you know what it means by definition, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have that quality just because you know what it is…maybe I’m missing something here?

  • This sounds fantastic!!

  • Azaramicrophylla

    Great to read on a Monday morning. Thank you.

  • Aflores

    This was great 🙂

  • Erica

    I was aware of the “hero” qualities being inside of us, but the opposites? That was great to tap into. Thanks for the open sharing. 

  • Marn

    Inspiring. Thank you!

  • Helen Bawden

    I was just looking for some sort of contact for you just to be able to say … thank you so much for sharing of yourself in this way & in so doing bring some comfort, inspiration, insight & joy into my every day. I start my day with ‘you’ as I arrive at work early & just quietly set myself up for the day.

  • Britton

    Inspiring article! Definitely a great way to start the week!

  • Juedrop40

    I am constantly amazed how each tiny buddha email has something for me everyday. this has spoken straight to my life a sit is now. thank you

  • Nicquiroz

    Thank you for your inspiring post! 

  • Kelsi

     🙂 thank you for sharing this.

  • Roo

    I love the shadow exercises you outlined.  Recently I have been trying to help others change their perspectives and to see the events in their lives from a healthy, positive perspective.  I have also been grumpy, out of sorts and fearful of being inadequate.  I couldn’t figure out why I was responding this way.  Now I see it is the shadow effect and that I am feeling the opposites that are within me.  I will try your exercises to really examine what is going on and to be more accepting of all aspects of myself.  Thank you.

  • Amanda M Hovey

    What a great thing to start the week of with!

  • Alexxis_torres2003

    Great article! I would like to try the simple exercise. I’ve done that before at Aa workshop but never did the opposite qualities. Accepting my negatives is something I’ve been learning to do this year…it feels great to know its okay to have them and allow others to have them as well. 🙂

  • Emo Gojo

    Silly but I am reminded of Peter Pan’s shadow-it might be troublesome at times, but he wants and needs it!

  • Hi Helen!

    My name is Lori and I run this site. I’m not sure if you noticed, but I publish a post from someone different every day. (And I write the Tiny Wisdom posts). I’m so glad you enjoy the site! Thank you for being part of the Tiny Buddha community. =)


  • frostyski3

    This is the first time I’ve written a list like this.  I’m shocked at some of the traits I’ve written respectively for each person.  This exercise has sparked curiosity in me of what really is in my head that I respect, believe and aim to follow (or not follow).
    Thank you.

  • I really, really needed to hear this: “At its very core, the shadow is the collective name given to
    aspects of ourselves we are not taking ownership of because of fear.”  I’ve been struggling a lot lately after a long relationship ended and I know I need to own what I brought to that relationship in order to move on and be a healthier, more authentic person.  Thank you for this article!

  • Thank you so much for your post!!! I have been in a very dark place lately and have been struggling to own what is mine and walk through the despair that comes with 3 deaths within a 5 week period of time. I have spent a lot of time focused on looking outward rather than inward and you have opened that door for me, thank you. I’ve known for a long time that “when one finger points out, there are three pointing back at you” but I’ve never thought to ask your questions: 
    “How do you serve me?” and “What must I learn from you?”  I sense that the next few months will open some doors for me – thank you again.

  • Very true..Awesome article 

  • Southaustinzen

    powerful words–thanks for sharing!

  • ShaeC

    I have been dealing with this just now quite a lot in my life…it was nice to read it on a Monday that had been a little challenging to face!  🙂

  • Julimonster

    Great post, thank you – I wanted to add something helpfulthat was once passed on to me – the dark things that brew just beneath your surface? They thrive in dark hidden places, but shrivel and die when we bring them out to the light

  • Helen Bawden

    Thanks Lori! I realise it’s been your comments I’ve been reading every day & I missed what I now see the above is which is the different person every day!  Now I have MORE inspiration to take into my day! Great! Thank you! x

  • Melodyangel

    This sounds like an excellent learning and growing resource!
    Mahalo namaste’
    Peace love and beautiful bountiful blessings
    From Debra

  • Brittany

    Thank you for all of the posts!  I love reading them.

  • Rhonda Maxwell

    I enjoyed reading this post.  Definitely gave me new things to look into.

  • vicki

    Loved this post…the exercise is a great way to look within and explore yourself.  Great message.

  • You’re most welcome! =)

  • Truealignment

     Yay!! This is great. When we make what was unconscious conscious, then our lives are transformed. We begin to see ourselves clearly and what is equally as beautiful is that we allow others to do the same. Our work is a gift to the world.

    Om to that!

    With love,


  • Jenna NJ

    Loved this post! It is important to be OK with yourself. to love and accept yourself 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!

  • I had never thought of «The Shadow» in this regard before. I want to know more about it and will followup by visiting your website. I use to think the shadow was the yin, but after reading about your shadow work, i have a new perspective on it, because ~ yes ~ our shadow is always there, and it seems more a matter of choosing the negative or positive action or thought or response. While reading this article, it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: 
       “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ {from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by DR. VIKTOR FRANKL, Holocaust survivor}
    Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to reading & studying more from you @sarahneanbruce 

  • Rebecca

    Great article!

  • urooj shahid

    Please take me in this online course. I really need to work towards positivity, going through tough times. and amazing post, loved it! 🙂

  • MarianneS70

    Shadow work is intense and very well worth it! Thank you tiny buddha!  You always elegantly express these lessons!

  • Emily33girl

    It is through others that we are able to see a true reflection of ourselves…
    Thank you,

  • This is exactly what I have been doing – the spiritual athlete – this has really spoken to me.

    Thank you x

  • Truealignment

     Wow! What a beautiful analogy!  The image of Peter Pan has a very playful quality, which is important when doing shadow work, then we don’t get stuck thinking it’s ‘heavy.’ Playing and have fun with shadow qualities means we can love everything into light very quickly and with a lot of joy!!

    Thank you so much for your intuitive and perceptive share!


  • larissajoy

    I loved this post and it came at the perfect time in my life. I just returned from leading a habitat restoration trip to the Gulf of Mexico and had a horrible time transitioning back to my life in NY. It crossed my mind to move down there so I could do more… and be happier… but then I realized that moving from place to place won’t make me happier. I have to find happiness within myself and my life, no matter where I am living it! Thank you for the reminder! 🙂

  • katscanlan

    You had me at “come home to yourself”!  I enjoyed this post and would love to further explore how to be my own guru.  I can understand the desire to keep moving.  I also know a shadow can be another guide (“How do you serve me?”)  Thanks for your generous offer.

  • Comoane

    Ah! The light of your words is making my shadow more distinct…

  • Ashley

    Absolutely love this message. It isn’t about changing who you are or bettering your character, it is simply about coming home to who you are, waking up to what we have been repressing all along, and reclaiming our natural gifts and talents. This has made me feel so much better today. Thank you.

  • Danielle

    When the student is ready the teacher will come. WOW, I do love timing. Thank you for your post. It resonated deeply and I had been feeling fairly confused and lost. What a great place to start a curious journey. I have been comfortable with my shadow but have been trying to understand how to find the positive and light within it. I have felt stuck and have been trying for a looong time to find a way to the positive aspects and this was very helpful. Thank you!

  • Jade

    The tinybuddha seems to hit the topics that I need to hear most each day and I am thankful for the nudge from the Universe, reminding me to always return to my true self. Thank you 🙂

  • Angela

    Wow. This really gets you thinking. I’m looking forward to trying the exercise mentioned.

  • WVM

    Shadow and light. A good reminder to acknowledge both in us.

  • Kara

    To be honest, I did not quite understand the post, or perhaps I have not properly conceptualized how “the shadow” works.  How did the experience of another angry person cause revelation of the author’s own anger?  However, I will try re-reading and reflecting on this some more…coming home to oneself does sound like a beautiful thing.

  • Dsummers

    As a Truth Student at Unity Institute, I always enjoy your enlightening posts.  This one seems particularly helpful as I learn to embrace my shadow side and love all the parts of me without judgment.   Namaste’ and blessing to you for giving so freely of yourself.  I see the Goddess in you.

  • Truealignment

     Alexxis, yes!! Acceptance is vital, then we begin to see that hidden within the supposed ‘negative’ qualities are beautiful, positive attributes that we had not consciously taking ownership of. Then when we embrace them, we are allowing repressed energy to be released and our perception changes and so does our world. This the alchemical process of our own self-effort and grace!

    How great is that!

    Thank you for sharing,

    With love,


  • Brilliant post, as always makes me stop, think and reflect on my life

  • Cary Bell

    My favorite part of this: in order to be authentic, I needed to take ownership of both positive and negative projections. I’m working on taking ownership of all I am, accepting it, and loving it– all of it!!

  • Odysseus0808

    “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you” (Nietzsche)

    Thank you, Julie Hoyle, for reminding us that the Shadow is indeed two-sided. We can allow ourselves to live in the darkness of its reflection or lovingly remind ourselves of its light. This came as an insightful, gentle wake-up call for me today. Recently, I have been allowing myself to suffer in my only child’s apparent decision to disengage from any meaningful relationship with me. There are lessons to be learned in this, ah yes, there are lessons to be learned.

  • lc

    A great post and topic for me today. Thank you!

  • You wrote an eBook, An Awakened Life – A Journey of Transformation and I wrote The Transformation Journey!  I think we might be on the same page.  I’m always intrigued by the shadow aspect of our selves and am very interested in your Be Your Own Guru course.  After all, the answers are within.

  • this is an amazing topic and something i would love to learn more about

  • Christiane A Marchand

    These articles are always a wonderful way to spark curiosity and self inquiry, as well as a reminder that we’re all on the same journey <3

  • Momnwife1981

    Wow, this is a powerful post! Looking forward to doing some shadow work. Thank you, Julie <3

  • Paulaosborn

    Wonderful essay. I immediately began using the questions.

  • Truealignment

     Roo, thank you for sharing. This is important. Investigate the ‘grumpy, out of sorts, feeling inadequate qualities. Ask them if they have a message for you? What are they trying to protect you from? Hidden in there will be beautiful qualities that you might not have seen before. Then the magic of what you discover will light the way for others and they will be able to do their own work.



  • Lsiadys

    So glad I read this post. Thank you. 

  • Kylin

    Such a perfect post for a week when I REALLY need to get back on my feet and back inside my head! Thank you TinyBuddha! 

  • N.J.

    What a wonderful reminder. Thank you.

  • zeemastar

    Hey I have been trying to scare off and reject my shadow for years now, I particularly resonated with being afraid that if people (or the community) “knew the truth,” we would be judged, reviled, rejected, or worse, thrown out…..I did the exercise and can now see how actually my shadow is a guide it balances out the light and being aware and accepting my shadow is the first step to healing. It’s ok not to be perfect to be learning and evolving. So I now choose to embrace myself fully shadows and all.  

  • Bettina

    I’m working through this exercise now; and would love to know more. Thank you for sharing,

    Bettina @

  • Jtreadwa

    Hi Julie 🙂 I can not even put into words the joy this article brought to me but ill try. First, thank you sincerely for your honesty and your truth. Authenticity has been something that has been on my heart for a while and your words provided a clarity that was so inspiring to my own journey. I loved not only the acknowledgment of the shadow but also how you honored it as a gift or opportunity to tap into the sides if ourselves that we often deny, dismiss or project onto others. Essentially you refocused its power into something that should be appreciated and respected in our efforts to truly move toward self awareness, peace and wholeness. I have always loved the power of perspective and its ability to change love (how we treat ourselves and others), change actions and consequently change lives. It is a truly priceless and beautiful gift, so thank you. I wish you all the best 🙂 – Jazmin

  • Kat

    “When we internalize these messages, we form beliefs about what is “wrong” with us and repress them so deeply they become unconscious. What we do not realize is that these aspects of who we are must find expression, and so we project them onto other people, organizations, or the world at large.”

    This is one of the things I’ve been working on – trying to accept the things about me that are, and not think that what I feel is wrong. Thanks for the essay, Julie.

  • Tekla

    Dear Lori!

    Thank you for being you. Thank you for being me.
    I read a similar version of this Zen story a few years ago and it resonated with me so deeply.

    Thank you for reminding me that my neighborhood is my home and my home is me.

    Life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
    Observe your mind! When you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Once the process starts, you open a door and the unexpected peeks in…

    Years from now when I reflect on my life, I want to know that I did something for others. As Mahatma Gandhi said “ You have to be the change you wish to see in the world”.

    The change I always yearned was more happy, confident, self-aware individuals who understand, accept and love themselves and others. Driven by love and not fear to live their lives!

    I believe that Life’s purpose is to love and to be loved; to be present in the NOW, to embrace diversity, to exchange and connect with nature and each other, to appreciate the importance of friendship and family and most importantly is to recognise One’s potential and power to make a difference in this world!

    In life you can do anything as long as someone believes in you. I would love to be the person who believes in people and helps them see their own greatness to achieve their dream!

    But right now, I am lost…I lost my voice, I lost my home and I lost my neighborhood.
    If this course could help me find who I am, my inner strenght, my power that I never thought i would loose…..that would help me see my shadows through the light, I would be ever so grateful…..cause once I  find me….my shadow is only shadow, if there is light form others:)

    Love you all! xx

  • This is really beautiful, and very powerful. I just started doing shadow work a few months ago, and it has already completely changed my life. I still have a lot to learn, both about myself and about shadow work, but I really love going so deeply within myself to find the answers. Once you “get it”…once you understand how it works…the shadow can become your greatest ally. Thank you for deepening my understanding of it!

  • Blkitty13

    Wonderful, and as usual, perfect timing.

  • Robyn_DeAngelis

    Embracing the shadow is what makes you a whole and complete entity. Without it, you are just half of your essence.

  • Truealignment

     Larissa, thank you for sharing. My oh my, yes I can relate to exactly what you are going through. When I left India in 2003 after living in at the ashram I talk about in the article, it was a very difficult, dark time for me. The work I had started on the shadow took on more intensity. However, I hung in there, kept doing the inner work and gave myself over to completely trusting that i was where I was meant to be, which meant facing two hurricanes and a great deal of devastation here on Grand Bahama Island -talk about the inner reflecting the outer! OMG and over time, my life was completely transformed.

    In all the madness of NYC, there is something you are mean to learn and something you are there to offer. Figuring out what that is, will form a perfect path and it will no doubt prove to be beautiful and abundant.


    Om and Hugs,


  • Truealignment

     Michelle, thank you!  Spiritual athlete indeed, i can feel the commitment to what you have been doing. Your self-effort shines through.

    Om and Blessings,


  • Peaceofmyart

    love this julie.  absolutely and beautifully true!

  • Yes! Paging Dr. Jung! I’ve been doing shadow work for a year and a half now. It’s painful and disturbing, but the outcome is so completely worth it. Evolving into what you were born to be is an amazing journey. Thank you for getting this message out there!

  • Nic

    I stand in my dark shadow. Hope is out there. Thank you!

  • Completely different perspective on looking within. Mahalo. I would welcome the “Be Your Own Guru” course. I need it, and I have a 10-year-old daughter who would benefit. Mahalo!

  • Victoriaffield

    Very true and wisely inspirational. Facing your demons in the shadows as well as the angels in the brightness is the way to balance

  • LMoy

    When I am going through rough times in my life it sometimes seems as if the universe is giving me signs, guiding me, letting me know it will be alright. I sincerely thank you for this post. 

  • Wendy Chadwick

    Julie, This last year (like so many of them) has been the most incredible mix of happiness and pain for me – met my soulmate, and he’s helped me to consolidate almost everything I’d “learned” about myself in the last 50 years, and I adore him.  We remain great friends, but not as we were.  when I met him   I had a hunch that I would have  to face my darkest feelings when this happened.  In deciding to “love” me more, (having realised that I never really did, having seen whispers of that knowledge I had about myself through the years) I wanted to face my fears, and the knowledge that the time had come to DO  the work I needed to do.  I didn’t know “how”, and then,  3 things (like a trinity) have happened to link me with what I need to do,  and YOUR post is one of them, and I thank you so much.   You’ve illustrated it and expained so well its as if you’ve written it for me, and makes me feel that I am really not alone in life’s lessons.   Thank you so, so much.

  • elisemiraval

    As a person before me mentioned, it always amazes me how often Tiny Buddha posts are relevant to what I am working on that particular day! I’ve had a really rough (emotionally) past few days and tried my own way of being a “spiritual warrior”, as that is what has helped me get through a lot of old crap. However, while I could clearly identify the emotion I was feeling, I could not, for the life of me, figure out where it was coming from. I finally came to realize I have to just sit with it, to be kind to myself, and to come home. At this point, I was able to cry as I needed, and even though I still haven’t figured out where it came from, I released it and came home. Thank you so much for touching on something so relevant, and for your daily sharing of wisdom and spirituality. I really look forward to my morning read of Tiny Buddha, it gets me grounded for the day!

  • I too find that coming to a place where I understand there is a shadow I need to continue to work with is both difficult and joyous.  I moved to Hawaii.  The Big Island which is known for healing.  I never dreamed it would be so difficult and at the same time find my paradise within and without.

  • Thank you tinybuddha for helping me attempt to stay grounded and humble on a daily basis!

  • Dpickard_lmp

    It’s amazing to me (and obviously I am not the only one) how every posts speaks to me with perfect timing

  • Sarah

    I would be very interested in taking this course. Some days I feel like I’m locked in a mortal battle with my Shadow. I hate my episodes of anger and violence, but I resist the notion of “embracing” my Shadow because that feels like saying my anger is ok.

  • Allisoncicalese

    I love both of these blogs! They have helped me with something I am currently struggling with! Thankyou!!

  • Varugoyal

    we see the world as we are… before looking for a change outside we must have a look for that change inside us..thanks tiny buddha… you are my daily dose of a healthy soup 🙂

  • frances

    Becoming aware of the shadow parts of myself has been the most difficult part of the journey towards authenticity. It’s so humbling when we first begin to see that what is “other” is really an aspect of ourselves we are asked to examine and embrace. Thank you for this beautiful statement, “At its very core, the shadow is the collective name given to
    aspects of ourselves we are not taking ownership of because of fear.” Thank you for this profound article.

  • jd waters

    This is a reminder I very much needed this morning.  thank you

  • This is a beautiful post. Having recently moved across the country, this quote hit me particularly hard: 

    “Oh brother, moving from place to place does not serve you well. Wherever you go, there you will also find yourself. Your shadow is always with you.”

    I’ve also begun suffering consequences of not knowing how to set boundaries or say ‘no.’ I would be so excited to learn from the course – and I’m enjoying the Tiny Buddha book – thanks for what you do!

  • I enjoyed reading this…thank you.

  • curiousone

    The question of “Who am I” has been coming up constantly the past few months. Thank you for this exercise to help me figure it out….

  • Alexis Francisco

    Thank you, Julie. This resonates deeply with me today. I find the more awareness slowly continues to awaken the more patience and compassion and tolerance i need to deal with days like today when i feel completely unnerved and emotionally kicked up. I would love to take your course and learn more about shadow work. 

  • I’ve often heard that the things that drive us crazy about other people and how they behave are tendencies that we have ourselves, but this post really helped it sink in… I liked the reference to “the shadow”, and realize that I should really take some time to sit down and ask myself some tough questions in order to really get to know my own shadowy companion, and what that part of me has to offer… Thank you for sharing such an enlightening article!

  • Eribautista

    I’m ready to face and embrace muy own shadow : )

  • Paulawidish

    So much truth is spoken in this post, it is almost overwhelming.  Overwhelming in a really wonderful and empowering way.  A gentle reminder that each of us is in control of where life takes us and the only thing we truly DO have control of is our own actions and the choices we make.  That is all and that is enough.

  • Sarah

    This gave me a lot to think about. Thank you, thank you!

  • Katy

    I just started reading about shadows yesterday and starting doing very basic work on my own. The timing of this article is impeccable. Thanks for this.

    It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now, Lori, and I hope you are doing ok through it. 

  • Lrbaumgarten

    As someone who is always looking to change herself and make myself “a better person” I really appreciated this article! I am always forgetting what I do have and how to use that to better myself.

  • Amandabalbert

    I have become a true believer in looking inward when I have a problem with someone else’s lack of compassion, anger, depression, and so on. I think all of our relationships act as a mirror to ourselves – showing us the negative qualities that we don’t like, and showing us the good qualities we aspire to. All of these things are within us, it’s just a matter of looking in and figuring out who we want to be. Amazing post, and I look forward to completing the exercise to see what my self has to say to me! 

  • Julesims2

    Very close to home…and interested in the course! Thanks for such an open and inspiring post 🙂

  • jkthorson02

    This hit home for me this week.  I have been struggling for a while with internalizing things and not owning up to what gifts I have been neglecting.  I have been struggling for a while with who i am and why my career makes me so miserable…and I think its just that.  I’m not being true to myself or using my gifts.

  • Gypsyweaver

    I would like to enter the drawing for your free online course.  After reading this story, my questions for you are:  1) What if I don’t know what gifts I have that I would be neglecting, and 2) What if I don’t think I really have anything to offer anymore?

    I too am this person who has been moving from place to place: PA to FL in 1995, FL to NC in 2005, NC to PA in 2008, and, finaly, PA back to FL in 2011.  I seem to be a runner, unfortunately, whatever I’m running from must keep catching up to me 🙁 

  • Sam VAnBibber

    Oh my, I left my roommate because of her constant anger at herself, me and her job. The shadow is that I too am angry. Tiny Budda always speaks to me each and every day, I find myself in the words here. Thanks so much for publishing and sharing your infinite wisdom.

  • Nancy

    It’s way past time to shine a light on my shadow.  Thank you for striking the match

  • Cwelsh

    An excellent essay.  It is very tempting to want to avoid those parts of us that make us uncomfortable, yet crucial that we come to recognize them so as to transform them.

  • Rmcgrudiva

    So, so true – and this echoes what is currently going on in my heart.  Thank you!

  • EB

    I somehow, not on a totally conscious level, realize that dealing with the shadows would help me greatly with my depression. Yet whenever my mind tries to approach those important issues, something in me clenches and says “Not now”.  Thank you for suggesting how to go about it – it might be a start.

  • CindyMC

    What a great story! Journey to the self  seems to be the toughest

  • Very Clear & Informative article..Thank You from All of Me 😉

  • Wendy Chadwick

    Hey you, I’ve suffered from depression too – interested in talking it through ? let me know – it IS there for a purpose, and I believe very much connected to self dislike…maybe we can mail. 

  • Tara

    Reading this after a night of restless dreams helped put things into perspective, thanx:)

  • Lyonesselake

    Talk about a lightening bolt!  This hit home in a deep and affecting way.  I have found myself at a place where I can no longer “find myself”…somewhere in all the running, I lost myself along they way.  I found out six years ago that I was adopted (at 48), both my parents had already crossed over and had obviously chosen not to tell me in their lifetimes.  I met and communicated with my new family and in a fit of “wanting to belong”, moved from everything I had ever know to the unknown (and physically from Florida to Maine) to be with what I had romanticized as a place where I would finally “belong”.  Imagine my surprise when nothing changed.  I am still “lost” and it is taking me, and will take me, quite some time to work out that change must come from within me.  As you pointed out….sadness, anger, all the fun stuff, spews out in the most unexpected of places.  Please consider me a candidate for your 7- week class…I have a feeling it will be life-changing.  Thank you.

  • Rana

    I found this story quite inspiring, as I’ve been embarking a similar inventory of talents & traits within myself. Thank you for sharing!

  • jslou67

    This post, as with most every Tiny Buddha post, inspires me to be the best I can be.  Thank you!

  • Cheryl

    Great post! Would love to enter the drawing.

  • Sooo true – how painful it was to acknowledge my shadows when I started doing this work.  Now I get excited to work through another shadow of myself.  I’ve seen how it deepens my connections to myself and others at the end of the process – and it’s enlightening literally. 

  • Alana

    This email could not have come at a better time for me. I am considering a big move to a new country. Maybe what I really need to do is look inside? I’d love to learn more about shadow work.

  • Oana Chiriciuc York

    I’m getting ready to travel to my native country of Romania, to visit my bed-ridden grandmother. And there’s nothing like a trip back to where you grew up to make you feel like all the work you’ve done, sweating on your yoga mat, sitting in meditation, and bringing to light and love the dark parts of yourself, has gone in a split second.

    I have this desire of staying centered in the light and joy I found within myself through all my yoga. BUT, I decided to release that attachment and just be with whatever emotions will come up. Because I know they will. Darkness, sadness, self-loathe, it’s all still there. And this is my opportunity to heal them. I bought a journal and I made a commitment to journal through it all. Letting it all come out. And this post came at the best time as a beautiful reminder. Thank you! <3

  • Diane

    Thanks for the insightful post, Julie. It was a well needed reminder that changing our surroundings is not always a solution to life’s problems, when the real issues are on the inside.

  • CindyMama

    I like the concept here of accepting and recognizing the positives and negatives within ourselves.

  • Judy Blooming Marvelous

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Thank you!

  • Iamcanwill

    This was very timely & something I will remember for both myself & others .Ty

  • Wow, thanks for that. The dark side is so frightening, but so important to look into.

  • Nanci

    I appreciate the post today.  Thank you!

  • 3boykin

    This seems to have spoken directly to me. I have been searching and trying to better myself all around and I seem to keep getting stuck. The change needs to happen inside me and I am working on it every day. I have not heard of shadow work but it seems like exactly what I need to do. Thank you

  • Buttercupgirlco

    In the last week I have read references to “shadow” and this definitely helps shed some light for me. I struggle with whether my thinking, actions and reactions are “bad”. Why do I feel so stuck all the time? What do I represent? Even when I ponder the question of, if money and time were no object, what would my passion be? I am confused by the need to be loving and open and whether that means I need to constantly forgive the situation I am in with my husband and not look at how, whenever we “try again” it is always an emotional and financial setback for me. I know I have a responsibility in the situation, but where am I also a catalyst?

    Thank you, Lori, for sharing your wisdom and that of so many others! Some days, it is all that gets me through!

  • Caroladudu

    Me encanto!! Gracias x compartirlo !!

  • Julie, thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting  this article. And how profound and cut to the chase article was that! Many spiritual seekers loose time and energy believing that if they go “by the book” they will be awarded an “A” like good students, failing to realize most of the times, that it is more difficult but also absolutely rewarding to cast a light in the “dark rooms” within them…..

  • I like the idea of learning from your shadow, it’s quite fascinating.  I am also enjoying a   bit of irony —  that the article says:

    Indulging in long hours of practices as a way of trying to
    fundamentally change who we are, is often a camouflage for lack of
    self-worth or even self-hatred.

    and the giveaway is a 7-week course, heh.    Tho to be fair, I’m here too and I like the disclaimer immediate above the quote (“While these practices are a beneficial and beautiful support”) , but I am enjoying how so often you need to hit the extremes to find the middle.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Click

    Julie- You touch so many people with your notes – and I just wanted you to know that we appreciate and aspire to share your message and to share compassion for each other and our planet!  Thank you!  Namaste’

  • Knkerner1015

    Just what I needed!  In the process of “finding my shadow” it’s been hiding way too long!

  • BodhiLiving

    I can really appreciate using the “shadow” exercise to see what my “negative” conditions are telling me, especially about boundaries and taking care of myself.

  •  Jay you are so welcome. You are soooo right, the shadow is our greatest ally and a very beautiful one at that!



  • Trudy

    Thank you <3

  • Jazmin thank you for taking the time to share! I love and appreciate Tiny Buddha as a powerful and supportive venue for us all to be able to offer our combined wisdom. In this way, we are empowered to live in alignment with our truth, which by its very nature is the embodiment of authenticity. There is nothing better.



  • orla williams

    this blog is really interesting as it shows how you should see the positive in negative emotions and not take them as being a bad thing which need to be suppressed and repelled. I’ll definitely be giving the shadow exercises a go, I can see a lot of benefit in trying to embrace all my emotions, not just the positive ones, in defining how approach life.

  • Klbutter

    Beautiful article – gives me lots to think about!  Thank you! 

  •  Yes, I speak from experience. Having no boundaries was a big one for me. The shadow gifted me with learning to love myself enough to create time and space so that I was not stretched to breaking point.



  •  Kristine, thank you!!  You have just touched my heart!  There is nothing better. We often think we need a grand plan or big scheme to make a difference in the world. We don’t. All we need is to offer loving kindness and an authentic heart that says,    “I validate and honor you, exactly as you are!”

    Om to that!

    And Hugs,


  • Sue

    The exercises seem to be so simple, and yet are so powerful at the same time.   I have heard talk about our “shadows” before, and thought it was a little dark.  But I am starting to see what it is all about now. 

  • Brad M Moore

    Sometimes I worry for those who look Within and see :
    “At its very core, the shadow is the collective name given to
    aspects of ourselves we are not taking ownership of because of fear….On a subconscious level, we are afraid that if people (or the community) “knew the truth,” we would be judged, reviled, rejected, or worse, thrown out.”
    For some – their fear is grounded in the experience of seeing how their community has treated others before them – like the Baha’i in Iran, or sexual compulsiveness in as a teacher : and lets face it :: the worse could be losing your freedom : or your life

  • Shirley

    This has been the insite i needed to open up what was keeping me from the sunlight of the spirit, i hunger for more! I truely can relate to every single word! I want to continue to be open to transforming, but cannot do it myself, i need this….it has already brought peace!

  • Redhen45

    What a beautiful, loving non-judgemental way to embrace the dark side, the shadow self!  Thank you for this perspective.  It really showed me how to view the “dark corners” of my nature in a loving, accepting way – not see them with the disdain and sense of defeat/negativity …You’ve shown a light on how these elements of self truly are a gift if they are valued for the lessons and messages they are sent to manifest.

  • RTN2ME

    Sometimes I worry for those who look Within and see :
    “At its very core, the shadow is the collective name given to
    aspects of ourselves we are not taking ownership of because of fear….On a subconscious level, we are afraid that if people (or the community) “knew the truth,” we would be judged, reviled, rejected, or worse, thrown out.”
    For some – their fear is grounded in the experience of seeing how their community has treated others before them – like the Baha’i in Iran, or sexual compulsiveness in as a teacher : and lets face it :: the worse could be losing your freedom : or your life 

  • clau

    This is so helpful! im dealing with my shadow since i was a kid (no  jokes, i was a very concious and confused girl!) and still i am, but now at 31 im facing it, i want to take responsabilities of my mistakes and the suffer i cause to myself for repressing my desires or feeling guilty for actually have some desires. When im weak i tend to guilt people and feeling im not enough for like them. I decide to  love my shadow, just like Ross Geller must with his kundus.

  • C.

    Thanks, Julie, and Lori. Always a breath of fresh air.

  • Mark, that line was not meant to be a disclaimer. I’m an advocate for the practices, though with the understanding that balance is the key.

    I love the way you expressed it, ‘hitting the extremes to find the middle.’ Really perfectly put!

    Thanks for that!!



  • Hans Schmidt

    Beautiful message. Reminds me to change the way I look at things, and the things I look at will change.

  •  Sandy thank you for your eloquent share. Yes, entering the darkness within is challenging but a huge turning point on the path to wholeness and integration. The way to enlightenment is through the darkness.

    Namah Shivaya,


  • Greg

    this is an amazing article. Gonna try the exercise out.

  • Fayliz1214

    Completely needed today, Thank you!

  •  Thank you. This is a very beautiful and heartfelt response. First, stop thinking of any aspect of yourself as ‘bad.’ There might be aspects of yourself you can love, heal and bring into the light, but don’t refer to them as bad. Negative labels keep us stuck and unable to move forward. And remember with any situation we might be in, (God or the Absolute or whatever you wish to call the mystery of who you are) exists in Yes and in No. You have the power to transform yourself and you also have the power to either resolve or end a situation if it keeps bringing you pain. What is key is whether you keep being ‘triggered,’ i.e. is there any unresolved emotion that you need to bring into the light within yourself? If there is, even if you walk away, you will keep re-creating it until it is healed and integrated.

    Blessings on your journey,


  • What a good time for an email such as this… I did the shadow exercise and was surprised to see the result…  I’m at a crossroads where I have to choose a new path in life.  Your course could be extremely beneficial.  Thank you.

  • Michelle

    Powerful article…perfect timing…WOW!!!

  • Mia McLaughlin

    I do find that the most deep and fulfilling work I do on myself is all related to my shadow side. That dark chaos energy is always a boon for transformation. 

  • Anpnorth

    I love this article. I have been reconnecting with my shadow for a while now. The great thing about it is that as soon as you connect with your own shadow you become more aware of others. This awareness leads to greater compassion. : )

  • Betsy

    I enjoyed this article immensely. I have always considered my shadow something to overcome, reduce or get rid of, rather than understanding it has something to teach me.

  • Betsy

    I enjoyed this article immensely. I have always considered my shadow something to overcome, reduce or get rid of, rather than understanding it has something to teach me.

  • Brigidcw

    I would really enjoy a class that helped me to be more introspective and showed me how
    to get back in touch with my gifts, talents and energies. I feel that too many times I am going in too many different directions. I always enjoy reading my daily tiny buddha e-mail because
    it provides me that few minutes each day to reflect on my own journey in this life. 

  • zenrenity

    This is the first time I’ve heard of “shadow work”.  Are there resources/books/websites out there about this? 

  • Tk1974

    This is exactly what I have been searching for, as an insight into myself was going along nicely I was surpressing all the negative habits of myself as if I was ashamed of them. When actually I share most of them and need to accept them. No one is perfect ! The exercise was really helpful and very interesting.

  • I’ve heard of the idea of a shadow self before. It’s so eye-opening to realize that all the emotions/attitudes you dislike in others are within you too. Very humbling. I think I need a little work in recognizing my shadow.

    I’d love to win the free registration to Julie’s online course! 🙂

  • Allison

    Wow. This is an extremely powerful post that hits close to home for me (and many others, judging by the comments). If we accept the idea of a universal consciousness, we can extrapolate that we each contain all of the qualities of the universe within us, but we so often forget that and focus on the “differences.” The two questions you posed at the end–which gifts have I been neglecting, and how can I start to make life choices in support of what I have to offer–nearly brought me to tears because they are exactly what I have been struggling with for several years. I’m intrigued by the idea of shadow work and am so grateful for this post today! Thank you!

  • JT

    Just sitting on the tube in London reading this has given me a lot to think about. I’m currently living life very much within the shadows and have very little each day I look forward to and enjoy. People have said I’m different… Dark, sad, fearful and too serious. The complete antithesis of who I am. Taking ownership seems to be a good start here and I would like to start giving it a go. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • shadow work is so tough because it’s painful to look at myself but that is where I experience the most growth. Thanks for this post!

  • Creinhard

    I am in a place where every iota of my brain agrees with all you have written about shadow and my heart rebels.

  • Paskie

    i have only recently come to these emails and find something in each one that reminds me of the journey i am on. i find some piece of wisdom in each post which I can help me on that journey and reminds me not to get stuck in the old rut of blaming the world. 

  • Neha

    An amazing insight ! We truly forget to look our own ‘shadow’. I will have to re read this several times before I get a real sense of what are my dark areas. Thanks for sharing !

  • this is just what I need today. I love the quote about man standing in his own shadow – or woman in my case!  I try to apply this philosophy in my life but of course when something is really irritating, or gets me worked up in fury, then it is hard to remember – this too is part of me. The finger pointing out is also pointing at myself. thanks for the reminder and I will remember too that all that I see and admire out there is also part of me – it’s not just the shadow stuff!  

  • Katina

    This was fantastic! This is my first newsletter from Tiny Buddha and I absolutely love it. I just know it will liven my days and hopefully lengthen my years here are earth. Thank you! Blessings, KM

  • thefresco

    Thank You. This post resonates within me as I am currently “stuck” so to speak in burying feelings and experiences only to be reminded of them later. Huge life changes in the past 2 years and still mourning some deaths and very traumatic ends to relationships. Thank You Thank You Thank You! 

  • Angelamariez

    This really resonated with me! I feel myself entering a time of personal growth. I recently realized that I need to work on allowing myself to be “me”, and to give myself permission to accept the darker qualities that I possess as well as that it is acceptable to acknowledge the good aspects of myself too. That is really hard for me. Reading this helped to remind me of those things and gave me some ideas on ways that I can work on them. It made me look at the concepts in a whole new light.
    Thank you!

  • Sburt2237

    I am constantly living behind my shadow. I did not think I was hiding. What a revelation, but it will be very hard to overcome what has taken a lifetime to practice to decieve. Not only deception to other people but to ourselves. I will make a sincere effort to get out from behind my shadow. Steven

  • Anita412

    This is the first time that I’ve heard this way of thinking as shadowing. Very interesting and thought provoking.

  • welovecandy

    This  post adroitly shows the essence of  self discovery and change. Additionally, the nuances that robe our existence is sometimes brought on by our own doings. Life is a complex make up of our reactions to occurrences.And I feel this post reflected this perfectly. I enjoyed this perusal.

  • Melbo5k

    I am so drawn to the idea of the shadow I make & really want to explore it more. This article couldn’t have crossed my path at a better time. Thank you.

  • Teisha-Vonique Hood

    This is what I needed to see, hear, witness, experience, live…Wow. Just at the RIGHT time. Thanks Julie. Thanks Laura.

  • Leigh Ann

    This phrase, ““Oh brother, moving from place to place does not serve you well. Wherever you go, there you will also find yourself. Your shadow is always with you.”, really hit home with me. Thank you for taking the time to help us learn to be authentic.

  • April E.

    I love how Tiny Buddha encourages me to be honest with myself, both about the positive things in my life and the negative.

  • Rachelcrout

    I call this site my “daily devotional”. It truly is a blessing to have inspiring and positive thought provoking material to read each day. My thanks to Lori and all the contributors. 🙂

  • Putacandle

    Interesting….the shadow following each and everyone of us is part of who we are….funny how we run from the shadow…..shine a little sun and watch the shadow change.

  • shannonshort

    I love andcompletely buy into the benefits of shadow work. I was introduced to the whole idea of our shadow selves when I read Debbie Fords “Dark Side of the Light Chasers.” It reall opened up a whole new way of perceiving myself and the ways I was showing up in the world! 

  • Tricia

    This is a very inspiring article!  And for those commenters who were looking for other resources on this topic, Debbie Ford has done a lot of work with the shadow process and teaches many seminars on this issue.  I highly recommend her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.

  • Truealignment

     Thank you for your share!  This is one of my all time favorite quotes and as hard as it might seem, our challenges yield rich fruit.

    Om and hugs,


  • Truealignment

    Leigh Ann, and thank you for responding and being willing to stand in your light. This is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves and the world.

    Om to that and hugs,


  • Truealignment


    Whatever you are drawn to will appear, have no doubt! Once you start opening the door to the shadow, it will begin to reveal itself and you will discover the wonders of who you truly are.

    Namah Shivaya,

    And Blessings,


  • queeneli

    I’ve been told I have to open doors. I don’t need anyone else to do it. Only I can. That there is something that I already have, that is in me but I am denying myself. 

    Today in my meditation I opened doors. But it was not until I read this that I realised I didn’t just enter somewhere. I also let something in. The journey has begun, whether I am ready or not. Hello darkness, my shadow friend. It’s taken me almost 30 years, but I’m here now. And so are you. 

  • Truealignment

     Steven how wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Once you make the shadow conscious and start the work, it gets easier. It is the most worthwhile work you can do. It will transform your life.



  • Truealignment

     Angela Marie,

    Yes, exactly. All that is needed is a shift in perception. The shadow is simply our light hidden in the darkness.

    All we have to do is throw the switch.

    How great is that!

    Om and Hugs,


  • Truealignment

     Thank you! We are all beautiful mirrors for one another.

    You will no doubt be helping others face the darkness of death and loss in new and wondrous ways! What a gift!

    Blessings to you,


  • Truealignment

    Kate, yes, yes and yes!!  What you have shared is a huge turning point on the path to freedom. I am you, you are me in another alluring disguise. This is what Shamans call, ‘Eating the Shadow,’ and it requires guts, but is is a revolutionary step.

    We can only stand fully in our light if we have transmuted the darkness.

    Blessings on your journey,

    And Hugs,


  • Truealignment

     Creinhard thank you for your honest response. Remember too, that we are only responsible for what creates ‘triggers’. If for example someone is being rude and arrogant and we are not hurt, angry and upset, then there is no shadow and we can simply offer loving compassion.

    Blessings on your journey,


  • Truealignment

    JT, bless your heart!  Thank you for sharing. Yes, I know the tube well,(II used to live in Ealing) What I would encourage you to do is sit with a pen and paper and allow your pain and sadness to speak to you. You can ask, “What do you want to tell me?  What do I need to know?” And let the words flow. There is beautiful treasure hidden in pain, it has a lot to share and this is where  your energy is being re-pressed. It’s time for you to start re-claiming your light and letting it shine again.

    Blessings on your journey,


  • Truealignment

     Allison thank you for your beautiful and eloquent response. Exactly!  We can never be in alignment with the truth of who we really are until we transmute the shadow, otherwise, huge swathes are hidden underground, like buried treasure. We have to dig for it but it is definitely worth the effort!

    Om the that!

    And Hugs,


  • Truealignment


    Namaste and thank you for asking. If you go to my bio under the article, there is a link to my website where there are links to other articles, a free bi-monthly newsletter and online courses that include simple and accessible self-inquiry exercises relating to the shadow. You can also find my e-mail address there and connect and I will be happy to send you more information.



  • Elisa Black

    Thank you for this post.  I am currently overwhelmed/consumed by my “shadow” side– after repressing it for a long time.  But I am only seeing the black, and forgetting to look at the white– and the gray areas in-between.  It is so easy to be sucked in to my bad-ness and focus on it.  But I am a mother and a wife and I need to remind myself of the precious gifts I have in the people who love me (I wonder how), but I love them more than anything (including my own self hatred, which has a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle of its own).  I like how you phrase it as a “shadow” and the exercise of naming 5 people with qualities you admire, and then the opposite of it.  I think this could be very beneficial to me to write out, and I plan on copying this post, and responding to it [privately].  Thank you, also, for sharing your story, and for offering this giveaway opportunity.

  • Truealignment

     Yes, yes, yes!! This is a beautiful and insightful truth. And in addition to compassion, when we abide in presence or in what many traditions call the I Am, we are presenting another alternative and we are helping others awaken to new possibilities. It is wondrous and extraordinary.



  • brandy4477

    Beautiful…. thank you so much for that.  It was much needed.

  • Portland Female

    I’ve just been doing some shadow work with my SoulCollage cards; what a timely post!

  • Truealignment

    Yes, understanding time and place is important within a community that may not have the freedoms we enjoy in the west. Yet even if we are living in the midst of the worst regime, or are facing tremendous darkness, we do not have to concede our light. I speak from personal experience, having faced the potential terror of being involved in an attempted abduction of which I have written and shared with a number of women. I stand as a testimony to the light within, which nothing can destroy.



  • Truealignment

     Patty thank you! Yes, like children who sometimes misbehave, we can love ourselves fully and completely into the truth and light of who we are at the core of our being. It is truly beautiful and worthwhile work.

    Om to that!


  • Truealignment

     Shirley namaste and thank you! Your response is what keeps me motivated to share aspects of my own journey. We are all here for one another!



  • Truealignment


    Yay!! I’m so happy to hear that! We face the darkness in order to stand fully in our own light! The shadow is the doorway to enlightenment. It is the grounding force that keeps us humble. Then we can have true compassion for others.

    Om to that!

    And Hugs,


  • Truealignment

     Wow, thank you Oana! I love and cherish your honest answer. Yes, we often think we have to be ‘pure’ and not feel our dark emotions. However, when we begin to take ownership of what comes up (especially with family) we really get to see where we are at and then we can face and transmute old hurts, anger sadness etc.

    What a gift!!

    Have a wonder-filled trip. it will be awesome.

    Go with love,


  • hejdje

    A new way of looking at things for me.  As is often true, this article appeared at just the right time for me.  Thank you!

  • Truealignment

     Namaste and thank you for sharing your wonder-filled journey. The truth is we can never belong anywhere in terms of a physical locality until we have truly come home to who we are and to what that means for us.

    Shadow work is the entry point, this is why it is so remarkable. 



  • Sweetienena

    Being a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) It`s an ongoing emotional struggle. Learning to trust, accept,and finally embrace our shadow however difficult it may be, It definitely helps to unload the constant mental inputs.

    I tried the technique earlier today, and to my surprise, I found the things that I dislike the most about certain people were a  reflection of my suppressed self.The correlation itself is something really worth exploring,because it means a calmer and truer self.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  • Truealignment

     EB, thank you for sharing. A respected doctor friend of mine told me years ago- around the time I was at the ashram, “Depression is anger turned toward the Self.” This helped me give voice to my anger and allow it to speak. Depression has a lot to tell us if we are willing to sit with it and listen. We are after all, de-pressing our own energy. I do not wish to speak on behalf of mental health professionals and I am sure chronic cases are complex. However shadow work can be extremely beneficial in bringing light to pain and point out new pathways.

    Blessings on your journey,


  • Truealignment

     Gypsyweaver, thank you! I love your honesty.

    Don’t worry, your own Higher Self will bring you back as soon as you are ready. And not knowing is fabulous! When we don’t know we have what Zen Master’s call, ‘beginner’s mind.’ Then we are really open to new possibilities.

    And you do still have plenty to offer, as long as you are still living and breathing you have a lot to give. Becoming conscious of the shadow will change your perceptions and your life. This will also allow you to offer compassion to others who are still hiding in the darkness.

    Om to that!


  • Della Kurtz

    Love the phrase ‘coming home to yourself’ and this the beautifully expressed look at that process. Thanks 🙂

  • Shawn

    The exercise is not at all as easy as it sounds.  Very useful.

  • Caroljamber

    Thank you for this insightful way of looking at acceptance of our imperfections, so not only accepting but even embracing them.  And through this acceptance, finding compassion and love for ourselves that that cannot be attained if we deny these shadows. And the amazing realization that we all have these shadows instills a greater compassion for all of the people in the world who are suffering.

  • Glconley4

     Wow!  Always right on with these tales.  Thank you!

  • Lakelady

    My shadows are crushingly dark and scary. I have been ignoring them for decades, but now I see I have no choice but to confront those fears, if I ever want to try to learn to love myself. Icould very much use some help.

  • Slappan73

    A great post to ponder on and helpful to remember..I will use it to help me accept my new puppy and all she does (:

  • Truealignment

    Wendy thank you so much for your touching and honest response. This is so true. When we are ready to do the inner work, everything we need appears at exactly the right time. This is the alchemy of grace and the alchemy of our own self effort.

    Blessings on your journey!

    With love,


  • Anthony J Baker

    Very much like the man in the proverb, I emigrated from my country to a new one…only to find, after the initial honeymoon period, that I was finding exactly the same faults with my new home. The only constant was me!

  • Truealignment

    Erica thank you for your response and your question. If I tell you this is true, it has no relevance. What is key is finding the truth within you. What I can say from my own self-inquiry is that this work is truly transformational, I am a completely different person as a result.



  • moving

    I have just recently begun to see the light that shines from the shadow. I look forward to cultivating the practice as I have come to know the ease, ability, and compassion it affords, allowing me to give of myself healthily to others while being there for myself.

  • Christine

    I am terrified of my shadows and not sure how to confront/interact with them.

  • Anna

    I fear I’m holding a lot in; I’ve attempted to internalize my own shadows. I need to give them space to be realized, or my life can never be fully lived. Thanks for the enlightening post, its refreshing quality has got me itching to start journaling again.

  • Sunnocean627

    Wow, this article truly spoke to me.  For the longest time I moved from place to place thinking I would find happiness when all along I had to look within me.  Thank you for this lovely article.  

  • Coastalmom11

    Thank you for the wonderful insight!

  • blue lion

    perfectly describes my present state of exploration

  • Nancy

    I am searching for answers, thanks for the giveaway.

  • Hcorbett

    Thank you for another opportunity of reflection.  My email box is constantly full, many things I simply delete but I look forward to opening my tinybuddha.  I found it by pure chance or possibly fate when it came across on stumble upon.  What a true gift!!  Amongst times of chaos, frustration, times of uncertainty etc it is always just a click away reminding me to take a moment to reflect on the joys life gifts us with. 

  • Simply amazing! Just what I needed

  • Potterrab

    I have recently been discovering new ways to love and accept myself. Thank you for giving me a new exercise to do just that!

  • Alwaysknewmusic

    As I read this article, I know it was just what I needed to hear at the right time. Thank you. 🙂

  • MindDroooL

    Long have I strived to own the parts of me that are often labeled as negative aspects of being a human. Anger, fear, hatred, these things I experience and label as unpleasant. When closely examined in a mindful manner such things have crumbled, broken down, and disappeared though they again arise at times of stress or confusion, though much less often now than when I was younger. Truly important work. Love the wisdoms I receive in the email. Thank you!

  • em

    Thank you.  Your wise words appeared at a most serendipitous moment.  The past two months I have been moving away from the shadow of a long depression. I have been learning that it many ways it ‘held’ me, it became the reason why I could not engage more fully in my life, that it absorbed the fear, the anger and disappointment.  It is also removed the joy, the light, and enthusiasm.
    Understanding and awareness shines a light in those dark corners and makes it easier to continue the gentle journey of transformation.  I am discovering with enormous delight that many of the answers lie within, and trusting that knowledge.

  • MindDroooL

    Another thought; experiencing an illness I suffered and thought it a horrible, worthless experience but I found deep wells of compassion rise up in me, compassion for all beings who suffer. So, a painful, life-changing illness brought much hardship to my life but I also received very beautiful, essential gifts from a state of existence perceived as being negative. The compassion and love balanced the pain and suffering I experienced.

  • Erik

    I always look forward to reading the tiny buddha emails in my inbox.
    That shadow self-inquiry exercise looks interesting and I’ll try it. 
    I need to understand my shadow and not resist it so much.

  • Nini

    I am currently experiencing Psychotherapy, Bikram Yoga and Tiny Buddha for the first time – after I had a major accident in November last year. I feel like this path is leading me to an ‘improved version of myself’ – simply because I become conscious of my shadow(s).

  • Manuela Sousa Silva

    Thank you so much for making me look at a mirror..

  • Susan

    I really enjoyed this article. I am at a point in my life ( as I approach 50) where I want to be the fullest expression of my authentic self, which of course involves an integration of the shadow. As a Gemini I have been conscious all my life of 2 sides of my personality: on side the party girl Boozy Susie, hedonistic , fun loving , good time gir, on the other Spiritual Susanna, the yogi, vegetarian ,meditator, nurturing mother, wise woman. For so many years I oscillated back and forth between them, looking outside myself for guidance, paths, ways of being. And both personae contain light and shadow and my work ow is of integration , a balanced way of living that brings peace to me and others an enables us all to shine.

    Lots of love


  • Lois

    So often the Teacher appears when the Student is ready.  I’m so grateful to receive the tools from Tiny Buddha and this article has inspired me to check out your online the event I’m not picked to win.  Thank you.  

  • Mtacheva

    Really great article, coming just about right!

  • pandabear105

    This is a great explanation of “shadow.” It is hard to put into words. This resonates with me because of the deep anger I harbor. I recognize it and am continuallly working with this part of me. I feel like I’m letting it go a little at a time, yet at the same time, I hold on to just a piece of it because I feel like it is somehow serving me.

    Re-claiming our inherent gifts resonates with me.

    Thank you for this well written offering.

  • TFJ

    Really enjoyed this one. These are some of the issues I have been giving a lot of thought to lately. I am going through some pretty big transitions and am working hard to be with my more “negative” feelings. It is amazing how much we are asked to repress and judge of ourselves. It reminds me of Brene Brown’s work… we cannot selectively numb ourselves. She has done some great TED X talks about vulnerability. Thank you so much for this piece. I truly appreciate it.

  • This post brought tears to my eyes today. I have been struggling so much with self-worth and value lately, and reading about the shadow brought up a lot of difficult emotions in me. I concentrated in Mythological Studies as an undergraduate and extensively read Jung’s ideas on the shadow. Even though it’s only been a few years since then, I’d already forgotten. 

    I thank you (so much) for reintroducing the idea to me. I anticipate taking time to ask myself some of those personal questions.

  • Thanks for mentioning Brene Brown! I’m going to check her out (usually love anything from TED).

  • Jill Hanna

    Julie, thank you for sharing your light, a very inspiring and self searching read. 🙂
    Wanted to share this with you, a thought..and poem I wrote I thought you may enjoy.

    Light and Shadow


    There is a play of
    light and shadow,

    the trees, clouds,
    moving with the breeze.

    So it is with thought,
    in one moment clear,

    in the next it is

    Light shines upon us

    and as it falls quietly
    over us,

    our thoughts find a

    dark, diaphanous and true,

    soothing; in the tone
    of shadows.

    Sometimes the shadow, the
    idea is changed,

    transfigured by

    from our vantage point,
    or by the light itself.

    Some days they stretch
    long before us,

    larger than life,
    visible to all,

    Sometimes, even as we
    search in desperation,

    there is no shadow at

     the light is too direct, emotion glares.

    At other times we find
    ourselves low,

    lost within the

    with neither light, nor

    When our light is at
    it’s brightest,

    and our voice, our
    spirit, carries an abundance,

    it is then we are able
    to shine a light on others,

    so that they may find
    their shadow, their voice.

  • Thank you for this valuable post. I am still working on letting go of the belief that “if I meditate enough I will become a happier/better/improved self”. Instead it is about getting to know myself as I am and accept all aspects without judgement.

  • Amy Jo

    Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Cathe Ekas

    Oh my goodness.   This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning.  I have been trying to improve my sense of well-being by trying to get away from the shadows of my past. I would really LOVE to win this course. I love how Tiny Buddha has led me to other sites, and people who are so wise, and who have been speaking directly to my heart.  Thank you for being you.  Cathe

  • Burkyquirky

    I look forward to the tiny buddha posts each day; it’s the first e-mail I read because it sets me up for the day. Thank you so much.

  • Sal

    My whole life I have been helping others and forgetting myself. This was a friendly reminder that I am important too! Your lesson was well received and will be shown to many friends as a  reminder that we are all special. My freinds and family all look to me for insight and strength but I am beginning to believe that they are just taking my strengths and leaving me with less everytime. This was  nice remonder to work on myself. Thank you!

  • India B.

    I’m looking for my journal right now so I can give this a try. It would be lovely to take the nonlinear course

  • Angie Phillips

    Normally I devour the Tiny Buddha email the minute I notice it within my inbox.  This one, however, languished until today and now I understand why.  My shadow is very much poking and prodding and urging me to notice where I’ve allowed by boundaries to become fluid and that it might it be finally time for me to acknowledge my office is an unhealthy situation and it’s time to walk away.

  • Bambooo

    I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for taking the time to share this. Have a lovely day!

  • guest

    I find that l have started to recognize when the universe gives me what I need when I don’t know how to ask for it.  🙂

  • Elise:-)


    I’ve never thought of my “negative” qualities in this light. I enjoy the paradox of it. You can’t fully utilize your good without being completely accepting of your faults. <3 
    I like it.

  •  Jill thank you for taking the time to respond and for sharing your insightful and powerful poem. Shadow work is really amazing. In it, we discover what we have unconsciously been hiding from ourselves and once we tap into it we discover gifts we never knew we had.

    It is truly the alchemy of our own self effort and grace.



  •  Susan, thank you for your honest response. What is really great about shadow work is that we realize we can own and love two or more seemingly disparate aspects of who we are and IT IS ALL GOOD!

    Then through accepting everything, we can integrate it all and find center, which is how we come home to ourselves.

    Om to that!

    With love,


  • Starting this.

  • Mclou2633

    Hi Julie…Its tough to accept and let go of something that you deny exists within yourself. Other than clear signals of defensiveness, the tough part for me is identifying what I am in denial about, especially if the root is deeper.   I would like your opinion about how this aligns to inner-child work?  

  • Beth Shafran-Mukai

    This was very helpful reading, and appreciated. Would request to be considered for the contest – may all of our days be filled with learning, growing, and sharing our gifts with the world.

  • Shaynona

    Hi Julie,  I really believe I need this course.  This is something I have struggled with for a very, very long time.  I don’t understand when someone is projecting onto me or mirroring back to me.  We all have a dark side but I have asked these questions but I’m not receiving the answers.  I just don’t “get it”!  I have a hard time handling my emotions and I am going through a very difficult time in my life.  I lost my job over a year ago right after my mother suffered 2 strokes leaving her blind, almost completely deaf and crippled from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  My father’s dementia worsens by the day and I am their primary caretaker.  I had to move them in with me due to financial reasons.  I’m so stressed out all the time, I can’t even imagine what living an authentic life would feel like.  Someone forwarded this link to me and I couldn’t stop reading and re-reading it.  I just want to cry all the time.  I can’t figure myself out and neither can my therapist which I won’t be seeing much longer as my COBRA will run out shortly.  I feel very alone. 


    Loved it!  Thank you Julie and Tiny Buddha.

  • Truealignment

     Mclou, thank you!  A while ago, I was contemplating how to answer your question while stirring spaghetti and had a beautiful epiphany. That is, the amazing work of Carl Jung has allowed us to embrace the multi-dimensional aspects of who we are by understanding the ‘parts.’ 

    That said, while I am not a trained psychologist, I will offer my definitions based on the personal experience of assimilating a radical and life-changing transformation of consciousness and in the process being able to literally ‘see’ the structures of the psyche.

    So, to me the shadow defines the totality of everything we repress, whereas the inner child is one aspect, (which Jung defined as a human archetype)

    The child aspect represents our vulnerability, innocence and tenderness. The child also has a shadow, which is very important. We
    need to be able to recognize and access the fear in this shadow aspect in order to be able to protect ourselves. And, equally important, we can recognize it when it manifests itself in an unhealthy way, for example when we want to sulk and get into a ‘strop’ because we are not getting our way.

    I could say more, but will leave it there for now. If you would like to ask other questions, feel free to contact me through my e-mail address found at my website link above.

    Again thanks for asking!!



  • randi317

    This is so wonderful! I think I will be doing this practice tonight(:

  • i once read about “the shadow effect” – it’s a similar proposition. in that exercise, the contention is that we project on to others what we hate about ourselves, i.e. we don’t like certain things about others, but that’s because we struggle with it ourselves. i don’t like my mother being so critical of me – and yet i was always critical of other people. our shadow is always with us. i think we need to delve in deep to find them, and get rid of them

  • Tricia

    Like a letter from a very wise friend received at the perfect time. My heart is full ! Thank you Julie for your generosity and your astute way of speaking from heart to heart ! And to Emo for that vision of Peter Pan’s shadow that gives me an image that I can use to help me be more compassionate toward my shadow self than I would normally allow. Not silly at all. 

  • This post greatly applies to me.  I knew that it would when I read the zen proverb at the beginning.  Thank you for this!

  • Teanndhariwal

    Everyday I open my email and feel that whatever is written is specifically meant for me. It is amazing. I am so grateful to have stumbled across this site!

  • Teanndhariwal

    Everyday I open my email and feel that whatever is written is specifically meant for me. It is amazing. I am so grateful to have stumbled across this site!

  • JamieLHollis

    This is just the spark I needed, thank you.

  • Rockwithyou

    An article that I feel I could do with reading and trying some exercises. I’m trying to harness the good and bad in me as a 31 year old woman to becOme happy in my own skin. I mean I am happy but would like to understand and rid myself of negative energy that I’ve carried for so many years. We’ve all got to start somewhere!

  • Carol

    Understanding that what you see in your relationships may also be what’s in the mirror. It isn’t always easy to accept but worthwhile. I could use your course! Thanks for the reality check.

  • LOVE this article!! So, so beautiful + enlightening.

  • Lady Fahrenheit

    3 years ago I managed to “banish” long term chronic depression from my life, found some wisdom and finally learnt what try joy is… but funnily enough, I still remained a little naive. Thinking that without the “shadow” of mental illness, life would be free and easy. Of course this hasn’t been the case – since I have been more open to the world, I have experienced great joys, but have faced new and different struggles and sorrows. One of these has led me to spend the past week in bed/on the couch with extreme exhaustion and malaise. Partially due to lingering post-viral fatigue – but after that week, with time to contemplate – I see it largely due to my “shadows” – I overworked myself, gave too much. And while in the midst of this, I can see now I was definitely projecting my “shadows” onto others. Fortunately a week off with not much do has enabled me to return to myself, and to realigning my perspective, and remembering what matters – and where the power for change and improvement lies: me & My Shadow!
    Much thanks must go to Tiny Buddha and all the contributors – I have spent many hours pouring through different articles and the quotes collection. So many speak directly to my heart, and have helped me rebuild my wisdom, and in particular this post has reminded my that many of my “external problems” do indeed have their root within me. So now it’s time to get off the couch with my refreshed wisdom and attitude, and go out there and improve things not only for me, but those around me.
    Lady F° (don’t stop me now!”)

  • Laela

    I’ve never heard of shadow work but am now so interested.  Thanks for sharing!

  • JMay

    So much of this article struck a chord with me.  I feel like i’m about to begin a long and probably hard journey of self discovery….which began with reading Lori’s Tiny Buddha book after an unexpected and very difficult life situation…and all my daily tiny buddha posts help me learn, understand, and feel a little more peace than before I read it.  Thank you to Lori and all contributing authors — such a help and inspiration to so many people out there.

  • “Oh brother, moving from place to place does not serve you well. Wherever you go, there you will also find yourself. Your shadow is always with you.”…I love this sentiment. I think in many cases it is important to consider your environment and circumstances, since a plant will thrive most in fertile soil and good conditions. However, at the same time, if your inner state is at all toxic or murky, you could be in the most beautiful place and still feel lost and unsatisfied inside.Love is not just a two-way street, it’s also a channel. To give it or receive it (you often can only do both at the same time), the channel must be unblocked and open. You can find joy in the most dire of conditions, or suffering in the most luxurious. A lot does depend on your own balance, stability, and approach. You do indeed follow yourself wherever you go since “wherever you go, there you are!”….From this post, and the idea of “being your own guru”, I am inspired to do the work inwardly to manifest a healthy acceptance of sun and shadows outwardly. Today, be the kind of person you want to follow to the next destination, whether it be a new terrain and location, or simply to a new point of view. 

  • Lyonesselake


    Thank you for this post…it was meant to reach my eyes and heart today.



  • Sahildhingra

    Very interesting exercise. Thanks for sharing this and I also love the quote. I am curious about the course and it’s teachings so I look forward to learning more.

  • Loved this piece – so much wisdom here.  Thank you!

  • Xtinerat

    Wonderful post.  Thank you!

  • Somerryandbright

    Thank you for sharing this. Your article really blessed my day.

  • This post resonated with me.  Marking to read again later.  Thanks for the giveaway opportunity too!

  • Amber

    Thank you for the insight about coming home and acknowledging one’s complete self.  

  • Ruthanne Soutter

    thank you for sharing your thoughts on this post; for opening yourself to us. I found the part about chanting & meditation to be very true for me.  The 2 questions that you gave I am journalling on now.  I look forward to reading more of your articles; your heartfelt sharing! Sat Nam! 

  • Ruthane namaste and thank you for your response. There are a couple more articles here on TB, with other simple, self-inquiry exercises that might also be very helpful for you.

    One is titled, ‘Everyone in Your Life is You,’ found under the Love and Relationships heading. The other, is titled ‘The Real Measure of Your Wealth,’ which is under the Work and Fulfillment heading.

    Enjoy!  and Blessings,


  • Very thought-provoking! Thank you!

  • Daniel Goldstein

    Dear Julie,

    Thank you so much for this. I have been on a spiritual path of finding myself and peace for quite some time now. At first, I really did think it was all about meditating for longer each day, praying, doing yoga and all that good stuff. And like you said, all of that is wonderful, but to really get to the core issue and really release our true potential is to find ourselves. I had never heard of the shadow until about 3 weeks ago, from one of my favorite authors Robert Ohotto. I have learned so many techniques from him, and yes some things about myself have been hard to accept, yet so rewarding at the same time. I understand this is an ongoing journey, and to come across your article about the shadow is further proof to me that my shadow work is the right way to go, and to keep on going. All my love to you.-Danny

  • bkb

    This article truly resonated with my soul! Specifically the idea of your shadow and the importance of saying no. It’s a lesson I’m currently learning.

  • Tehla

    This really hit home for me.  As I read I began thinking about my own life…so much that I’ve suppressed in order to fit in or be acceptable.  I think I have a lot of learning about myself ahead of me”.  Even the opening story fit me perfectly…I’m sitting here thinking, “ does this person know me so well?!”

  • Sue

    I enjoy all of the articles that Tiny Buddha brings.  I’m finding myself, I’m learning to love myself.  This article made me understand the song by kd lang “The Shadow and The Frame”.  Here are the lyrics.  It’s a beautiful song with the very meaning in this article.

    The Shadow and The Frame
    by kd lang – Watershed Album

    So I find myself and what I becameHaving nowhere else to lay the blameThe darker side of me in my discoveryThe shadow and the frame are indeed the same.Does the taste for truth disappear with youth?Are my efforts all but wasted fruit?The promise of my prime fading on the vineBut falling days indeed the seeds of time.And so elusive this life we liveIncomprehensible but beautiful.The promise of my prime fading on the vineBut falling days indeed the seeds of timeSo I find myself and what I becameHaving nowhere else to lay the blame.The shadow and the frame perfectly remainThe shadow and the frame are indeed the same…

  • Kristareierson

    Julie! This article came to me in the perfect time, space, and sequence! I am currently reading Eastern Body Western Mind and I’m learning about the shadow! Not to mention it has been something I’m becoming increasing more aware of. This article is beautiful – I too write for a blog – so I have a deep appreciation for sharing knowledge through writing. Great job!

  • Rosie

    Thank you for this article. I almost feel as though I was meant to read this today. So often we go through life choosing not to take responsibility for our actions even when we have been hurt very badly by somebody else. It’s nice to be reminded to look inside ourselves for the answers and to answer to that part of ourselves that cries out to be acknowledged.

  • Frankie casale

    Wow very inspirational <3

  • Angel Lorom

    Been wrestling with my own shadows lately. Thank you for your insight.

  • Jenna

    This is exactly what I needed to read today

  • Ariadne5

    After reading the article I am much closer to understanding what the shadow is. I will do the exercise. Thanks very much.

  • Jmmanno

    I really enjoyed this post. Once again Tiny Budda has provided just the right article at just the right time!

  • Hummin8284

    I have been discussing shadow work with my therapist…Universal timing is perfect

  • jm1984

    Many thanks for posting and bringing this to my awareness. I especially needed the reminder that an overly spiritual path can actually be avoidance of true self acceptance.

  • Carolyn

    I am loving each of the messages sent… many are touching me and are coming at the exact moment they are needed

  • Indiris

    Thank you so much for this post!
    You clearly expressed what I’ve recently come to discover after 2 years of searching inside and reading it just makes me grateful with the universe and the way everything falls on its place.

  • Ty

    I have started doing shadow work again and really enjoyed your post

  • Lynnfux

    I have always told my son ,there are no geographical cures,we always just move the baggage right along with us,even though it may show up a bit after we arrive. To that end there is a most amazing book called THE FOUR AGREEMENTS by Don Miquel Ruiz a TOLTEC HEALER. It is short and it will change your life and make everything so clear.
    Thanks for this wonderful post. Another word of thanks here,the book was given to me by my dearest friend,someone who knew I needed it and who is also on a spiritual path .

  • Truealignment

     Lynnfux, thank you for your response.  I LOVE that way of putting it, ‘there are no geographical cures,’ Spot on!

    And yes, I am very familiar with DMR’s book. Last year, I was invited to write articles for Inner Change magazine on each of the 4 agreements, which was a wonderful opportunity.

    On the book topic, Owning Your Own Shadow, by Robert A Johnson is very short, simple account, and one of my favorite for looking at the Shadow. Another more in-depth book is, Meeting the Shadow (A New Consciousness Reader) by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrahams.What was compelling for me, was that I began working with the Shadow before I had read or even heard about the dark side of the psyche. It was not until much later that I discovered these books, which served to beautifully validate my personal inquiry.The gift of self-discovery is essential and beautifully rewarding!Blessings, Julie

  • Truealignment

     Noch Noch, thank you for your response. It touched me in a tender way. What I would like to offer is not to think in terms of ‘getting rid’ of the Shadow aspects, but rather acknowledging them, listening to what they have to say and then loving them into light. Otherwise, we feel we have to do battle with ourselves. Healing comes from accepting and loving all aspects of who we are and shining light into the dark and fearful places, then we can truly come home.

    With love,


  • Cup-O-Joe

     A good article

  • Very playful and beautiful. 

  • Esther

    highly insightful

  • CBelle

    This touched my heart. Thank you so much for sharing what has touched yours.

  • Tony

    For a long time,I have blamed everyone else for how I feel,why I get so angry. This has made me realise that it CAN’T be everyone else,it must be me. Introspection can be a powerful tool. Thank you for this. he only problem now,is finding my own gifts and inner worth.

  • Ayana

    thank you so much for writing this . this has bought me a little bit of peace .. thats gonna impact me in a big way <3

  • Romar

    So I have been running from myself for over 30 years to discover if I stop to see who I am and feel who I’ve become, I can get to know myself and not fear myself. I have forced the me towards what society finds acceptable and though educated beyond doctorate level of formal education still find a longing to learn and need more. I feel empty and lost in a spiritual depth. Despite meditative practice, I long for more intense meaning and knowledge of who I am and want to feel, learn and be more. I find I have no dreams, no one who I admire and have lost the value (if I ever knew) of truly living.

  • DissolutionParty

    I don’t have the problem of blaming the world, but instead I tend to hate on myself even harder when the going gets tough, not project.

    Also, can someone explain to me (without using the word “energy” in a non-scientific context) what this whole projecting thing is about? If I’m annoyed at someone for who has cheated me or lied to me, that means that I’m a liar and a cheat too because I’m “projecting” these feelings onto someone else? Or, for example, when think about someone I admire, I think of people who are the opposite of me: successful, thoughtful, calm, determined, focused, etc. all the things I am not.

    Where does observation end and “projection” begin?

    [Again, I’m not spiritual or woo-woo in any way so please keep explanations suitable for a simple nervous system. Present tense grammar and pictures are encouraged.]

  • Morinanna Wyzard

    I am on a healing journey after loosing my 23 yr old son, nearly 5 yrs ago, I am finally beginning to come home to the new me, and learning to be a better person from the pain…thank you for the article, it really reaffirms, thoughts within my self

  • Jessica

    Hi, I am really having a lot of troubles in my life. I just feel that life has no meaning. What is the point of living this life? Why are we created? All these questions are bombarding my mind. I really find the shadow exercise useful:-). But I don’t have the answers to my questions. Can you help me?

  • maureen

    I noticed no one has answered your very interesting point of view, and that is because the whole projection theory is just that, a theory, a guess as is most psychological ideas. you are grounded in reality, if someone steals or cheats on you that is their problem and certainly not a projection of self, and if you admire someone who is the opposite of you then you accept this not try to emulate what you are not and copy, an observation is a healthy mind, someone who constantly thinks projection has taken on the concepts of the so called enlightened and psychologists like Jung and never questioned their ideas but blindly follow.

  • Shesus100

    I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my past its life experience it makes you understand what life is and to cope when times get tough.i don’t hold grudges can’t think if one person in this world I hate,yes I dislike both people and the actions that they have taken but not to actually hate them.dont judge anybody and have always treated people with a attitude that I would expect people to treat me. Hate arguments and gossip believe people should not be judged unless you have been or lived a certain experience should you give comment or disagreement. People in professional places use their place in society for what I deem is sense of power,without consideration to the effects and damage they do to others lives.
    That past should be past not to be carried around till the day you die.some of the most intelligent,nicest people I’ve ever met in life have been held to society as outcasts will be probably til they die. What a waste and unfair. Who makes or what gives these people the right to make rules that effect and ruin so many people’s lives. War,do people really understand what are Hero s were fighting for,that everything achieved by these true men is being trodden down and going full circle but there won’t be a way to recover or a system that will control the world from such destruction. That they are creating with greed and lies with politics and false econemy. Even if your willing to speak out but the truth would effect these dictators you will be stopped. Just my opion. X

  • Harry

    Maybe it’s my impatience or doubt, but these posts are hard to read and relate to what the author describes.

  • CC

    Interesting post.

  • rustproofheart

    Whilst quietly working cutting crystal , a voice spoke out over the hub of the diamond wheel ,its constant monologue seemed designed to hurt to bring effect ,its wasn’t a stranger or friend it was the shadow that stands with me I tried not to listen it grew louder focusing was difficult I simply carried on but it was and is now a tangible form ….so today I put the shadow inside into google and found poems courses and little Buddha ……….here I an now writing this !

  • Venerable Bede

    Gosh this is a lovely article, thank you. I was so enthused that I straight away set to identifying five people that I admire. I must be heavily in my shadow though as any time I think of anybody, I automatically think of a ‘but’. Have you any strategies to overcome this automatic projection?

  • Valerie Walden-Odrechowski

    This was the very question I started my day with unsettled between the new profound awareness and peace I have been awakening too I was suddenly disabled by rage and thought myself an imposter, I was only good when I could meditate but separate from that I was still a human who was angry and selfish and not worthy and I am surprised to see these ideas and the depth of my shadow, I have been thinking I had fixed all that oh no–I still was hiding, this article was the very light I needed to see the shadow in a new way. Thank you

  • Jared

    I want to find this helpful. I recognize it’s sound advice… but considering it for myself, I just feel blank. Everything seems so vague and general that I just don’t see myself as anything at all. I’m passionate about a collapse of society and rise of new age indigenous values…

    The only thing I want is freedom within an ecologically sustainable community… and as I see things, that’s the shadow of society itself. We’re all subjects of global finance, bound by laws which only apply to the dispossessed… and no one wants to face that, let alone accept it.

    I find myself envying the dead. I wish I could remove the guilt that prevents me from committing suicide, or have a frontal lobotomy to be made “normal” and feel motivated to do things without needing reasons. The only things I want are love, family, communication, homesteading… honest work that doesn’t demand I pay taxes to contribute to the world’s war against God.

    Both of my grandparents died mid-sixties, addicted to dozens of prescriptions, fat but malnourished from packaged foodstuff, and chained to their televisions for every moment they could have made memorable… My mother is the only one of her siblings who’s following her parents’ lead, and all I can do is watch her kill herself in super slow motion while she works double time at job she hates and still struggles to keep up on bills because “doesn’t have time” for anything but tv outside of work, and she “doesn’t have space” to move around her own house because her and my step dad compulsively hoard every worthless thing with an ad on tv.

    I’ve seen all this nonsense my whole life, and I’ve avoided all these pitfalls of extreme American normalcy. I know beyond all doubt all of the things I DON’T want, but what the hell does it even mean to be alive?

  • Tracey

    This article really stood out to me. I am feeling as though I have hit rock bottom, I dont know who I am and what I want to do with my life. I dont know where to start but this has made me look at things from a different and more useful perspective, maybe some good things can follow from taking this advice!

  • Jahnvi_Chavda

    Thank you for sharing experience. It really touched my heart. So beautifully you have portrait “shadow” analogy. It took awhile to stop looking outside and start looking inside to understand core issues and emotions. I am still learning lessons to understand shadow work. Thank you for wonderful insight.

  • Shelly reese

    What is shadow work?

  • Shelly reese

    Please. Can someone. Help me? I’m so lost

  • MB

    You can feel projection when you have a response that is more negative than expected or then other people would have. Hatered of events or people that aren’t quite atrocious is a good indicator, as is deep seated anger. A person close to me despises organized religion and when asked he’d list rational reasons, like the crusades. When asked further, he notes that he hates the control that priests and the institution have over others. This person is very mild mannered, helpful and complacent, and becomes resentful and child (ie angry) when he feels someone else’s assertiveness (ie personal power). He was raised in a home where he needed to meet others needs to a fault or be shamed, so “personal power” was pushed into his shadow.

  • Scotty Mac

    And so the light again emerges from the dark. Beautiful Julie. Thank you.

  • really?

    I really need much more shadow work – I understand it intellectually but integrating it fully into an understanding of who in me needs to be seen and heard is something I continue to struggle with…

  • Tonybinid

    I almost didn’t read this article, glad I did! Hope I can find a way to face this part of myself and learn what I need to get closer to being a whole person.

  • サイファー

    Love this article.