I must also have a dark side if I am to be whole. – Carl Jung
The Shadow describes the part of the psyche that an individual would rather not acknowledge. ~ John Elder
All of us carry demons inside. Sometimes we catch fleeting glimpses of them, sometimes we witness them in full frontal chaos, but for the most part we ignore and bury their existence either out of fear, guilt or pure shame. Discovering our demons is a vital part of inner work.
As authors Connie Zwieg and Steve Wolf noted:
Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality, and acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life.
In order to live authentic, mindful and whole lives we need to become conscious of the nature and even personality of our Shadow Selves, our Monsters. In order to repair, heal, move on, and progress in our life journeys we need to acquaint ourselves with our darker sides. In order to develop the Self-Awareness and understanding that allows us to foster Self-Acceptance and love for ourselves, we need to acknowledge and embrace our Shadow Selves.
This article aims to do just that: to increase your level of Self-Awareness and to encourage you to explore what type of Monster you have inside. If you would like more guidance, check out our comprehensive Shadow Work article.
13 Types of Shadow Selves
Our Monsters come in many different shapes and different varieties. While some are more ferocious than others, others don’t really seem to be all that monstrous at all – that’s until we reap the devilish consequences in our lives. Below I have categorized a variety of 13 different Shadow Selves. Some overlap with each other, and many are interconnected, meaning that it’s not uncommon to possess more than 1 or 2 different Monsters.
1. The Egotistical Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: arrogance, egocentricity, pompousness, inconsiderateness, self-indulgence, narcissism, excessive pride.
2. The Neurotic Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: paranoia, obsessiveness, suspiciousness, finicky, demanding, compulsive behavior.
3. The Untrustworthy Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: secretive, impulsive, frivolous, irresponsible, deceitful, unreliable.
4. The Emotionally Unstable Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: moody, melodramatic, weepy, overemotional, impulsive, changeable.
5. The Controlling Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: suspicious, jealous, possessive, bossy, obsessive.
6. The Cynical Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: negative, overcritical, patronizing, resentful, cantankerous.
7. The Wrathful Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: ruthless, vengeful, bitchy, quick-tempered, quarrelsome.
8. The Rigid Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: uptight, intolerant, obstinate, uncompromising, inflexible, narrow-minded.
9. The Glib Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: superficial, cunning, inconsistent, sly, crafty.
10. The Nonchalant Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: emotionally detached, distant, indifferent, uncaring, unexcited.
11. The Highly-Strung Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: touchy, nervous, reactive, tense, overemotional, hypersensitive.
12. The Cowardly Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: weak-willed, passive, timid, fearful.
13. The Featherbrained Monster
This person displays the following characteristics: puerile, childish, immature, illogical, simpleminded, vacuous.
Facing Our Monsters
How can we face our Monsters, our Shadow Selves? How can we hope to create more harmony in our lives? The answer: by consciously choosing to work with our souls. This could include:
- Spending time in contemplative introspection, e.g. asking the question “what are my greatest Monsters?”
- Developing more Self-Awareness (this allows you to become more conscious of your words, thoughts, feelings and behaviors, thus allowing you to identify your faults more easily).
- Asking friends, partners or loved ones what they feel are your greatest personality faults.
- Ensuring that you adopt an analytical but compassionate attitude towards yourself, rather than playing the role of the prosecutor, judge, or defender which hinders your ability to embrace your Shadow Self fully.
To conclude, I will leave you with a few thoughts:
The secret is out: all of us, no exceptions, have qualities we won’t let anyone see, including ourselves – our Shadow. If we face up to our dark side, our life can be energized. If not, there is the devil to pay. This is one of life’s most urgent projects. ~ Larry Dossey (Healing Words)
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. ~ Gail Sheehy
Who has not at one time or another felt a sourness, wrath, selfishness, envy and pride, which he could not tell what to do with, or how to bear, rising up in him without his consent, casting a blackness over all his thoughts … It is exceeding good and beneficial to us to discover this dark, disordered fire of our soul; because when rightly known and rightly dealt with, it can as well be made the foundation of heaven as it is of hell. ~ William Law