Benjamin Ibeh

7 Practical Ways To Spot Your Shadow Self (Plus, How to Change)

habits, Positivity

In science, a shadow is defined as a dark image projected onto a surface where light or other radiation is blocked by the shade of an object.

When we were kids, we often chased our shadows, as well as trying to see what they would look like.

A shadow self in human psychology is different.

What is a shadow self?

The shadow self is our inner self, which our ego does not allow us to identify with. Simply put, our shadows are those behaviors we possess that we find hard to admit to ourselves or other people.

They can also be described as those characteristics we possess, good or bad, that we hardly let people see or admit to.

It can be things you do without being conscious of them, your thoughts when alone, or what your innermost mind speaks to you in a low tone.

Most of the time, you are not even aware of it, but it influences your life positively or negatively forever by how you think, feel, act, talk, and express your personal desires, as well as how you see other people.

Some of the possible elements of the shadow self include laziness, dullness, shyness, anger, pride, powerlessness, low self-esteem, selfishness, wickedness, greed, and envy.

As bad as these words sound, there are still positive shadow selves that some people possess. Optimism, human power, and being emotionally conscious are perfect examples.

You can continue to deny it, ignore it, or hide it. The truth is, they will always be there, even though you may not be conscious of it.

Well, your shadow self is what makes you a human, and you can’t cancel it. Rather, you may be able to manage it. But that’s even if you recognize it.

In this light, we are going to look at the 7 ways to spot your shadow self.

7 Ways to Spot Your Shadow Self

1. Your propensity to castigate or criticize other people

This is one of the best ways out of the 7 ways to spot your shadow self. If you are the type that likes to criticize or judge other people a lot, you can spot your shadow self there.

Most of us judge other people, perhaps because we are better people than them. Whereas, it’s not completely true most times.

If you reason with a conscious mind, you may find out that what you are judging other people for is what you are capable of. You don’t do it because you don’t have the privilege or are not in the position to do it.

Well, it’s not okay to judge people if you don’t know everything about them.

2. When you insult people on social media

The internet has given us all sorts of freedom that allows us to post and comment against other people without ever thinking about how they felt seeing it. Because of the anonymity we all enjoy, people just come online to troll and abuse people however they feel. And it’s not a good thing at all.

If you pay close attention to some of the things you write on your walls or comment on other people’s pages, You did figure out that some of those shades you throw at people are not worth it; it’s a very bad thing you do, but you don’t acknowledge that it’s bad. You can figure out your shadow step through this.

3. Getting easily triggered


Getting triggered is one of those 7 ways to spot your shadow self. Yes, nobody feels good when triggered, especially when it happens more often. However, it is one of the best times to discover your shadow self.

If you are in a relationship with a guy or girl and he or she says something that you find annoying sometimes. Don’t just take it as if your partner is falling out of love with you. If you take some time to reflect on those words being said that trigger you, you will find out something that needs fixing right there.

The truth is, there are some attitudes that some of us possess, but we fail to recognize them, so we hardly improve on them.

If you allow the triggering to get so much into your head, it will control your shadow self totally and can sometimes influence you negatively if you fail to be conscious of them and improve on them.

4. Playing the victim every time

Playing victim in almost everything is one of the 7 ways to spot your shadow self. Some people are fond of this, even though they fail to accept that they are.

Characteristics like self-pity, always failing to take responsibility, blaming people for your misfortune or failures, giving flimsy excuses, and a lack of confidence are synonymous with someone who likes to play the victim.

Of course, most people wouldn’t want to relate to or be friends with such people because they don’t want to take the blame for their losses.

It’s understandable that you don’t want to take all the blame so you don’t feel bad, but taking responsibility for your actions and inactions on issues is the right thing to do.

If you want to reach your maximum potential, taking responsibility is key. So embrace it and stop playing the victim at all costs.

5. Pouring out your anger on people under your command (As a Leader)

Pouring out your anger at people, especially those under your command, is one way to see your shadow self.

Let’s say you were at your normal 9-to-5 job and your boss was nagging you for some actions and inactions.

Of course, you felt very bad about it, and since you are dealing with your superior, you may dare not back at him or her. Hence, you come, and the next thing you find yourself doing is pouring out your anger on your kids. That means you are letting your shadow self take control of you at that very moment.

The thing is, everybody gets angry, but how you control your anger matters a lot. Because you’ve been triggered by someone, you’ve decided to spread the anger disease. It’s not the right thing to do, but it’s actually a perfect way to spot your shadow self.

6. Getting jealous of other people’s achievements

It’s common for humans to feel jealous of other people’s achievements; perhaps we feel why not me? Why him? Why her? While it’s not noble to feel this way, let’s recognize that nature is inborn.

However, when we are fond of doing that every time, that’s more like becoming an enemy of progress. Because you don’t have it, you feel that other people shouldn’t have it.

The moment you start feeling this way, your shadow self is getting a hold of you. Check yourself. It’s a mind game; you can’t stop your mind, but you can actually control it if you want to; it’s yours anyway.

We should always try to celebrate other people’s achievements and not do otherwise. That’s the right thing to do.

7.  Projecting your issues onto other people

Often projecting your issues to others is one of your shadow selves to deal with.

When you project your issues on other people, you are obviously trying to shy away from your deeds, present or past.

It means attributing things you are not happy about or that do not feel right to you and projecting them onto others.

You may know within you that you have a bit of pride, but you keep saying or thinking someone is proud. You are cheating on your own partner or have cheated in the past but accuse your partner of cheating. You have an atom of laziness, but you are quick to tag someone else as lazy. The list is endless.

These are things you did or are doing, but because you don’t want people to know or hear about them, you project them onto other people. Try and check yourself the next time you do such a thing.

How To Manage Your Shadow Self


One thing about your shadow self is that you can’t erase it. It is buried in your innermost mind. You are often unconscious of it, and it influences your actions and inactions. How then can you eliminate something you don’t even see or know exists within or outside of you?

There’s only one way to do this: you have to search for it, acknowledge it, and let it be your friend. This way, you can manage it since elimination is impossible. Bring it out, get to understand it, and you will be able to control it. You shouldn’t be too mindful of  what other people may say about you if you want to control your shadow self.

Final thoughts on 7 ways to spot your shadow self

Accepting your shadow self can be a very difficult thing to do. But it is the best! Most people end up living an unfulfilled life simply because they don’t even know themselves well. So they find it even harder to understand how people and things work.

If, after spotting your shadow, you learn to acknowledge that that’s you, by doing so, you can correct what you feel is not right about you. Just like in math, if you don’t find out where the problem is, the equation becomes hard to solve.

Above all, self-love has a key role to play in this, so love yourself very much and don’t care too much about what people say about you. Good luck finding peace and living a fulfilled life!

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