The Shadow is everything that the Ego is not, it is the exact opposite, the dark to The Ego’s light. We cannot perceive The Shadow it is all that we cannot accept about ourselves. When someone upsets you, it is The Shadow that swallows any sudden desire to do them harm, it is The Shadow that swallows the urge to steal when you are struggling to pay the bills. Just because they are swallowed by the Shadow though does not make them any less a part of you, some parts of yourself that are swallowed by The Shadow may even be useful to you if your life takes a turn for the unexpected such as if you find yourself in a violent situation. The tagline for the 1971 Straw Dogs reads: “That knock at the door meant the birth of one man and the death of seven others.” This refers to a mild mannered man backed into a corner becoming someone else to survive.
I talk about The Ego as the light and The Shadow (by it’s very name) as the dark, but dark cannot exist without light and it is only because The Ego exists in the light of day and The Shadow is deep in the subconscious. They are metaphors and not literal. In stories this metaphor is stretched further to good and evil – Voldemort is the Shadow in Harry Potter and Sauron in Lord Of The Rings and take another look at the light and dark sides of the force in Star Wars – but The Ego is not necessarily good and The Shadow is not necessarily evil. The Ego is however what has been accepted and The Shadow is what has not been accepted but they are both as much a part of your Self as each other. We have all grown up in a culture and within that culture the majority of people hold very similar values therefore my Shadow is very similar to yours, hence the above examples, what is accepted in a culture is set out by it’s laws or codes (and in its stories) and is instilled fairly deeply within us, but we may still differ.
I recall a Senior manager that I was never able to get on with when I was managing cinemas which I could never work out at the time because we both wanted the same thing, we just had different ways of going about it. I have realised since that in order to do his job which was primarily profitability he believed he had to ignore the individual feelings of his employees. I can see the advantages of this way of thinking but I do not like it, I think it is artless and unimaginative management and I have repressed the part of me that is capable of that way of working. He however has repressed the part of him that is capable of trying to run a business and keep everyone happy. In repressing these parts of ourselves we made it easier to do the job the way The Ego wanted to do it. We did not get along as we recognised (subconsciously) our shadow in each other and our Ego’s could not accept that.
The Ego is in constant conflict with the Shadow for the control of the Self, but they both have their place and The Shadow can never be anything but the shadow, and the Ego can never be anything but the Ego, but the Self can change and meet the demands of the world. Hypnosis is a way of achieving this change without that exhaustive battle!