The shadow is the part of ourselves we hide from the world. For most, the preferred view of ourselves that we'd like to be seen (by others) is out in the open (in the light), however the parts that we want to hide are behind that light, in the shadows. This "hiding" happens both consciously and subconsciously. In the shadow are the things that I didn't think would be acceptable or that just don't represent the ideal concept of the way I desire to be viewed, or maybe the thoughts that I didn't have the courage to express. In general, we want to hide these inner parts of ourself, to protect our concept of self. This concept of self, is the view we think others have of us. This projecting of the imagined view of others back onto ourselves is all somewhat pointless, though. Why? Because, no one views me the way I want to be viewed. Also, no one can ever really know what another person thinks of them fully (especially without asking), so the whole mental process of worrying about another persons view and how it relates to my own self-esteem is based on a delusion or self-deception. Everyone has their own concept of me (or you) that they have built. Their view can either be insight into my true nature or more likely, have nothing to do with me at all. Their view is built on the small sliver of me that they know about.
Our world functions on the concept of this same idea of self, or ego. This is most easy to see externally, with celebrities or politicians that have capitalized on the public concept of self based on a small sliver of what they are. However, this is of course an incomplete view of the reality of their being, inevitably there is a "scandal" that brings to light another part of that persons being, and the public view of that person is shattered along with their influence and power. This is, of course, stupid and cruel for us as a society to engage in, and yet almost everyone does this to greater or lesser degrees. Why do we enact this cruelty? I think it's because most are living in this same mental prison.
Unfortunately, every time we hide something of ourselves in the shadow (consciously or subconsciously) we are robbing ourselves of our own personal power and energy. This is also building a prison for ourselves. This is also unconsciously giving power to the darkness we are hiding.
So what goes in the shadow? Well, it's a bit different for each of us based on our makeup, but there are cultural elements too that are easier to look at. Most commonly, we put into the shadow our sexuality, our urges and attractions. We also put our frustrations and anger and resentment. The things is, none of these are hidden very long and they usually come back as warped expressions, or more powerful urges, anger, resentment etc.. etc.. etc. All of these are the result of one thing. Fear.
Origins of the Shadow
How does the shadow start?
The shadow is built as soon as I begin to identify with some thing, group or concept or idea. Why? Because as soon as I identify with the thing group or idea, I begin to edit out the parts of myself that do not fit into this concept. The parts that don't fit into this newly formed view of my new identification I hide or minimize, so by default many of these "edited parts" go into this "shadow". These could be concepts based on sexuality, marriage, religion or even spirituality. It really doesn't matter.
The energy that built the shadow in my experience was mainly.
The power I gave to any concept (positive or negative) in order to define myself in the view of others.
The truth is that each and every one of us have an inner world, and maybe we all share the same fear that we might be found out? After all, what if people knew who you really were, what went on in your inner world? Perhaps you show some of this to some groups of friends and hide it from others, maybe some is kept entirely to yourself. In some ways, our view of society dictates this inner world....our view of what we think society thinks is "acceptable". Then when we create this "shadow" it becomes a prison of fear.
In order to truly connect with each other, though, we have to bring this inner world out. We have to learn love ALL of ourselves. I have learned that those things that I resist will persist, but the things I bring out of the darkness will lose their power in the light.
I encourage you to have your own coming out party, where we say, yes, I'm human, I might have flaws, but I also have this light and gifts to share and all of these are part of who I am. I have noticed when I have the courage to do this I haven't been met with rejection that I feared, but I have found connection and commonality and acceptance. I believe that it's own our vulnerability and willingness to expose and share these parts of ourselves, and our inner world, in which we can find true strength, acceptance and the Love that we seek.
Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.