Are You at War with Your Shadow?

There are many types of war games, but only one enemy, and that enemy lives in the dark corners of our mind.

What is a war game of the mind? It is an internal war that we play within ourselves when we mistakenly believe we are battling with someone else.

In Jungian psychology, this enemy is known as the Shadow Self.  According to the great scholar and doctor Carl Jung, the shadow is the dark side of our personality which is prone to psychological projection.

This projection of the shadow is more extreme in individuals who are unaware that the moral deficiencies they perceive in others are nothing more than their own suppressed inferior traits. No doubt, their outer projections are merely their own inner reflections.

We all have a shadow self, but by subconsciously suppressing it we cause a rift to occur within our psyche;  a war game in our mind. This rift causes our shadow to reap havoc in our lives until we finally address its existence. If we remain in denial, our shadow self will eventually begin to project its hideous image on to others. One way or another, you will face your shadow.

The shadow’s negative traits appear to be prominent in individuals who prefer to control others rather than face their own inner conflicts. Although this toxic behavior runs rampant in today’s society, it’s not always easy to know when someone is projecting their shadow. Rest assured, however, if the “blame game” is being played, the shadow is hard at work.

Another common trait of an individual with a heavily suppressed shadow is the need to hold others responsible for their own negative feelings of anger and hatred. Sadly, the individuals who display this type of manipulative behavior perceive themselves to be at war with an outside enemy, yet ironically, they remain unaware that the true enemy resides within themselves.

When conflict arises, which it inevitably does, these individuals refuse to look within and face their own inner demons. This is when the shadow self becomes enraged. Indeed, the more they suppress what they disdain in themselves, the more inflamed the war becomes in their mind.

Of course, this inner struggle eventually spills into their relationships where they begin to project their distorted shadow onto strangers, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even their own family members.

So often we hear these individuals say, “He hurt me. She made me angry. Who do they think they are? I hate him. I’ll make him sorry for speaking to me that way.”

These lower vibrational emotions, such as hatred, anger, jealousy, revenge, etc, keep them caught in their own inner conflict which is played out in their mind… “a war game”.

The game goes something like this… first, someone “makes” you upset, and then you become angry. Your mind begins to race with thoughts of revenge, “How will I get back at them?” The most common method is to cut them out of your life. You mistakenly feel that if you stop talking to them, stop interacting with them, even go so far as to alienate them from the people whom they love, that you will hurt them.

Surely, this is all in your head, this is the war game that you alone are playing. You are angry, but the only person experiencing anger is you. It is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. You are the one who becomes sick…sick in the heart, sick in your soul, and then all of this manifests in your body. How do you think cancer comes about?

At this point, you feel exposed when you realize the individual whom you wish to alienate is not only unaware that you have stopped communicating, but is happily living their life. They know nothing of your anger, they are not playing your game. There is only one person who loses this battle, and it is the same person every time…the one who is at war with them – self.

In the words of the divine Buddha, “If  someone is angry at you, and you do not accept their anger, the anger returns back to the sender.”

All throughout recorded history the great divine masters from Christ to Buddha have repeatedly given us this message. They have made it clear, if we do not raise our consciousness above the lower vibrational emotions of anger, rage, hate, jealousy, etc., we will create a toxic imbalance within us. Yet we continue to allow these negative emotions to run rampant, creating war within our mind and destroying our relationships.

So the question remains the same:

How do we stop projecting our inner conflicts onto others and come to peace with the internal war within our own minds?


We must look within ourselves and realize the moral deficiencies we perceive in others are nothing more than our own suppressed inferior traits. We must also realize that our suppressed shadow self is simply fighting for its own survival by projecting itself on to others. It feels fragmented from the whole, therefore, we must integrate our shadow and forgive it for the horrors it has committed.

Through integration, we attain a heightened sense of awareness that not only allows us to forgive our own shadow, but to forgive the shadow in others as well. In doing so, we transcend the shadow and ultimately go beyond the darkness.

With this new found awareness, no longer will we take the projected anger of others personally because we can see that these conflicted individuals are not at war with us… but at war with themselves.

As I conclude this article, I will leave you with a helpful tip. For those who are dealing with a loved one who refuses to look inward and take responsibility for their own suffering, realize that they are in pain and it is not truly them who is committing the shameful act of projection, but their shadow self who is crying out. Therefore, take comfort in knowing that they do not hate you, but also give compassion in knowing that they sadly hate themselves.

In time they will evolve, heal their fragmented self, and eventually come to the realization that winning through manipulation is not winning at all.

Until then, allow them to play their war game all by themselves and simply love them where they are.


Love & Light,

~Daniel Pape


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