What is “the shadow”?

My Human Design content is always written through my heretical + alchemical lens. It may or may not align with traditional HD views. And this post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase after clicking one of my affiliate links, I may make a commission. 

Shadow is a term I use often in my work and it’s a big part of what you’ll discover in the Human Design Map. It’s a concept I’ve been working with for over a decade and has been one of the most healing for me, my clients, and my customers.

Way back when I first learned about “the shadow,” it meant the same thing to most of the people I encountered who were using it. We were always on the same page about what we were talking about.

But, in recent years, especially as new age rhetoric and dogma has increased, the term shadow has taken on multiple meanings when discussed in spiritual and psychological circles. And, I’ve found it necessary to be more explicit about what I mean when I use that word.

So, to clear up any confusion about what I mean when I use the term shadow…

Shadows are not good/bad, positive/negative, or right/wrong.

They aren’t the parts of yourself that you hate, the parts you wish you could change, or the parts that others don’t like about you.

They aren’t behaviors, emotions, or personality traits that conventional wisdom might call “negative.” 

They aren’t your fears or grief.

Shadows are the archetypal parts of ourselves that live in the unconscious realm of our psyche. They are the aspects that you have rejected and hidden from your awareness in an attempt to belong.

This “hiding” takes an incredible amount of energy to maintain and it prevents you from using that energy in conscious ways.  

As with anything, it is all just a spectrum of potential.

The energy of creation is the energy of destruction. The energy of focus is the energy of OCD. The energy of conflict is the energy of peace.

So, to put it as clearly as possible…

If there is self-awareness of an aspect of yourself, that aspect is not a shadow.

Once you are aware of a former shadow, you now have a conscious choice of what to do with that full spectrum of energy. 

My recommendation is that you recognize, love, and, most importantly, integrate it. 

When you do these things, you reclaim all of the energy you were (unconsciously) using the hide those aspects and you can use that energy for your conscious intentions. 

If you’d like step-by-step guidance on how to do shadow integration work, you’ll love my online course Shadow + Light. And, if you’d like to know which shadows are the most important, for you personally, to integrate, get your  Human Design Map.