"Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power."
Every light has darkness to balance it out.
People can be kind or mean or beautiful or ugly. We sometimes are compassionate or selfish, and at other times we feel safe or insecure, or confident or hopeless.
Every moment of every day we're choosing which road to go down. If someone treats us unfairly, are we going to respond with hate and spite, or compassion and understanding?
Society around us tries its best to help us choose. "Think about yourself first," it says. "Aspire to be as beautiful and attractive as possible." Subtle nods tell us it's okay to use things and people to get what you want, to be aggressive, and to seek superficial adoration rather than deep friendships.
Shove those negative feelings deep down like proverbial skeletons in the closet. Put those bad thoughts and desires in a box and don't ever open it. But you can no more avoid dealing with your shadow than you can avoid using your left foot when you walk.
If you ignore your shadow, it will take on a life of its own. It will fester and eat away at you.
Maybe you develop an alternate personality through which to express your shadow's desires. Maybe you build walls of secrecy to hide the things you do when your shadow is in control. Either way, your being is off balance, and the impact on your life and your relationships can be devastating.
Here are some steps to get on the right track.
Commit to Exploring Your Dark Side
It's a trip that's not always going to be nice and pleasant. You will find out things didn't know about yourself, and many of them won't be positive. You have to commit to the search for truth in order to minimize the impact your shadow has on your life going forward.
List Your Trigger Emotions
Come up with triggers for destructive behaviors, such as frustration, loneliness, hunger, low self-esteem, nervousness, and the like.
If you have multiple different behaviors you're trying to work on, you will probably find that many of the triggers drive more than one type of behavior. It's not intended to be a smack down; it's designed to make you stronger and more prepared and able to handle future trigger events.
A practice of seated meditation allows you a greater sense of neutral awareness of your own feelings, emotions, and desires. To learn how to manage those thoughts, so that when a negative or destructive emotion comes along, you can chose to just send it along on its way.
Observe Your Shadow
So now we have established a list of trigger emotions that we need to be on the lookout for, and we're learning to become more transparent to ourselves through meditation.
We're now in a position to co-exist with our shadow.
We don't have to fight it, because it has no power over us. We know it's there, we know what it looks like, and we know what to do when it shows its ugly face. "Only in the recognition and acceptance of our shadow side can we become whole, integrated, reconciled, and therefore truly and fully ourselves."
You don't fight it; you don't suppress it; you don't try to turn it into something it's not. You recognize your shadow, but you don't allow it to control your life or determine your future actions.