The term shadow emotions was originally coined by Carl Jung to describe emotions that an individual is not consciously aware of, and yet reside within the individual on a subconscious level.
Shadow emotions are emotions an individual has suppressed in the past - typically because those emotions either: 1) threatened the individual's survival, or 2) were judged by the individual as "bad" or "shameful" or "unattractive" or in some way contradicted that individual's beliefs about their own self-image.
Typical shadow emotions include: anger, rage, vindictiveness, spitefulness, jealousy, desperate neediness, anxiety, emotional weakness, cynicism, bitterness, self-pity, resentment, panic, depression, confusion and despair.
I often talk about shadow emotions in my homeopathic practice because homeopathic remedies (as well as herbs and flower essences) can and often do surface shadow emotions. This is purposeful - we're using a combination of tools and intention to shift the disease process from the physical body (subconscious mind) to the conscious mind. Once the material has moved into the conscious mind, we use tools to support the psyche in embracing those emotions, discharging them and ultimately integrating them into the rest of our repertoire of emotions.
Often times when I talk with clients about shadow emotions they say - I want to stay in the positive. I want to be a good person and a positive person and I want to attract positive things into my life. Why would I want to allow myself to sink into "negative" emotions?
My response is always that embracing and releasing shadow emotions is desirable for three main reasons: 1) physical health, 2) emotional health, and 3) spiritual health.
Physical health - By allowing the mind-body system to sink into shadow emotions, we are allowing the body wisdom to do what it needs to do to heal the disease process. We are liberating the nervous system - letting it go where it needs to go, even if that means temporarily going into a low serotonin state (depression), or a low GABA state (anxiety), etc.
We are also liberating the endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic and digestive systems - allowing them to go where they need to go for the healing to progress.
This is in contrast to the nervous system and overall mind-body system compartmentalizing shadow material and holding it in place. My experience with mind-body medicine over the last twenty years has shown me over and over again, that this compartmentalization of unprocessed material maps to rigidity in the body - a type of body armor - so we see stiffness and inflexibility in the spine and in the central nervous system. By giving the mind-body system permission to release the material from compartmentalization, we are liberating it from its burden. Then it is freed up to re-organize itself to a higher level of functioning. This is when we see permanent improvements in the individual's health.
I've also learned that the mind-body system often holds shadow material in place using heavy metals and pathogens. So, when the mind-body system releases the shadow material, the corresponding pathogen or pathogens that were used to hold that material in place (chronic viral infections, bacterial infections, fungal infections) are also released.
The same is true for heavy metals. When the individual's mind-body system releases the shadow material, the corresponding heavy metal or heavy metals are also released.
This is a layer by layer process - such that an individual suffering from chronic illness and/or chronic heavy metal toxicity and/or a chronic infection - may need to do layers of healing work (layers of releasing shadow material and reorganizing to higher and higher levels of functioning) to unravel the overall syndrome - and eventually regain their health.
Emotional health - When an individual doesn't allow themselves to experience shadow emotions, those emotions become more and more charged over time. So even though the individual may be striving to never feel a particular emotion - when they finally do feel that emotion (usually due to a stressful life situation or relationship dynamic) that emotion will have so much pent-up charge behind it that it will come up and out in a way that is disproportionate to the present situation.
So, for example, instead of the individual experiencing mild irritability and being able to give voice to their irritability (perhaps to set a boundary or bring attention to one of their needs not being met), they'll experience intense anger that is disproportionate to the situation. Often times a part of them will know that their anger is disproportionate to the situation and they won't want to appear foolish so they'll work even harder to suppress the anger (or hide it from the individual they are interacting with). This blocks honest communication and leads possibly to further violation and disconnect.
Releasing shadow material gives the individual the ability to discharge the "capacitor" - to release the intensity behind the emotion so that when it does come up in their day to day life, it's not disproportionate to the situation. This gives the individual greater regulation of their emotions - they can move in and out of a variety of emotions without being "overtaken" by one that they have to work to contain or suppress.
And, this ability to move in and out of a variety of emotions, to regulate and modulate their emotions enables the individual to more easily experience healthy intimacy. Their capacity for emotional complexity improves - they have greater self-awareness about what they are feeling and what the individual they are connecting with is feeling. They have a greater capacity for handling conflict and empathizing with others. And, they are able to be more transparent and communicative. This translates to better boundary setting and the individual being more likely to get their needs met.
For individuals suffering from chronic emotional issues (such as chronic anxiety, depression or low self-esteem) the discharge of shadow emotions allows their central nervous system and endocrine systems to heal over time. And as the physiological basis for their chronic emotional issue heals, they naturally experience lower and lower levels of intensity of that issue - until eventually the chronic issue is permanently resolved.
Spiritual health - There are a few reasons why the release of shadow material contributes to greater spiritual health. One reason is that unprocessed shadow material leads to projection. Projection is when we project (similar to a film projector) something that exists within ourselves onto another individual, such that we are unable to see them accurately.
So, if we have unprocessed anger within ourselves, we are likely to project the anger onto others. We think to ourselves - boy, this person is really an angry individual - when in fact, it's a mirror of our own unprocessed emotional energy.
When we have unprocessed depression, we see depression in others. When we have unprocessed confusion, we see confusion in others.
Shadow material continues to be mirrored back to us by those around us until we are able to own it within ourselves, release and integrate it into our consciousness.
So, from a Law of Attraction perspective, we're not "dwelling in the negative" by owning and processing through shadow emotions - rather we are healing ourselves and our relationships. The more we surface and process through shadow material, the more clarity we have - the more we are able to fully see and appreciate ourselves and those around us.
A second reason that the release of shadow material contributes to greater spiritual health is that releasing shadow material invites us to release judgment and shame towards the different parts of ourselves. So, instead of harshly judging the parts of ourselves that feel shadow emotions (e.g. the part that feels angry or depressed or co-dependent) we move into a more expanded version of self-love and acceptance and we embrace these parts. We know that we are lovable regardless of the particular feeling or thought we are experiencing. We don't have to perform or package ourselves to be loved. We just are loved.
And, when we move into this more expanded acceptance of ourselves, it allows us to move into a more expanded acceptance of others. So, we can have people in our life that suffer from depression or anger or any other type of shadow emotion and we don't have to polarize against them (e.g. try to fix them, shame them, judge them, wall them off, escape from them, etc). We can just let them go through their various emotional states and still embrace them.
Said differently, surfacing and releasing shadow material moves us out of a duality consciousness (polarizing against ourselves and others) and towards a unity consciousness.
Clarification - Sometimes when I have talked about shadow emotions with clients over the years my clients have told me that they didn't want to experience shadow emotions because they were taught it was "bad" to be angry, or spiteful, or jealous, etc. My response to them is that there is a big difference between unconsciously expressing shadow emotions towards others (what I call on-line expression) vs. processing shadow emotions "off-line" - meaning within the privacy of your own room or your own therapeutic framework (e.g. voice dialogue, journaling, play acting, etc). We can follow the golden rule and strive to make decisions in our relationships that are in our highest good and the highest good of those around us - at the same time we can give ourselves permission to be messy off-line for the purposes of healing.
Aside: Many tools can be helpful with the process or surfacing and integrating shadow material (homeopathy, flower essences, voice dialogue, journaling, psychotherapy, body work, etc.) but one of the most important components - if not the most important component - is the intention to surrender to the body wisdom's path of unraveling and the shadow release process. For more information on the concept of surrender and healing intention, see my write-up on Healing Intentions.
With this understanding of the term "shadow emotion" in mind, I am providing here a list of homeopathic remedies and some of the shadow emotions that can surface as a result of taking these remedies, and/or setting the intention to clear this energy state.
Note that these shadow emotions include not just feelings, but also shadow thoughts and perspectives. Also note that I am not including all of the physical symptoms associated with these remedy profiles (there is a multitude of possible physical symptoms for each), only a a handful of their keynote physical symptoms.
Aurum metallicum - possible shadow emotions = depression, manic joy, spiritual arrogance, guilt, obsessive-compulsive perfectionism, criticalness (towards self or others), resignation, despair.
Aurum metallicum - possible shadow thoughts and perspectives = People are criticising me. People are focusing on my flaws. People are upset with me because I messed up. I need to be perfect. I'm bad if I make a mistake.
Aurum metallicum - sampling of keynote physical symptoms = severe pain syndromes, hypoglycemia, constipation, alcohol craving, tightness around heart area.
Baryta carbonica - possible shadow emotions = humiliation, delusion of being laughed at, insecurity, anxiety, low self-esteem, desperate neediness, the yearning to be validated.
Baryta carbonica - possible shadow thoughts and perspectives = people are laughing at me. People think I'm a fool. People think I'm stupid. I can't trust myself. I'm incompetent.
Baryta carbonica - sampling of keynote physical symptoms = stomach pain, sugar craving, endocrine disorders, chronic inflammation of the tonsils, cognitive challenges.
Calcarea carbonica - possible shadow emotions = fear of poverty, industriousness, yearning for a secure structure, fear of earthquakes, laziness and burn-out.
Calcarea carbonica - possible shadow thoughts and perspectives = I'm not secure. I need to work harder. It's not safe to leave my job no matter how toxic it is. I won't be safe with change. I need to cling to my present life structure for security no matter what the consequences.
Calcarea carbonica - sampling of keynote physical symptoms = chronic fatigue, calcium issues, obesity, arthritis, chronic constipation.
Nux Vomica - possible shadow emotions = fear of wasting time and missing out, fear of poverty, fear of wasting money, irritability, anxiety, emotional paralysis (stop wasting time you lazy fool!), industriousness and performance pressure.
Nux Vomica - possible shadow thoughts and perspectives = There's not enough time and there's not enough money. I won't be safe if I waste time. I need to make use of every minute. I will be attacked if I waste time. I can't afford to make mistakes.
Nux Vomica - sampling of keynote physical symptoms = lower back pain, spasms and cramps, paralysis, heart disease, cold hands and feet, hypersensitive to noise.
Natrum Muriaticum - possible shadow emotions = remorse, sadness, obsessive thoughts about the past, obsessive compulsive perfectionism, loneliness, romanticism, resent, bitterness and cynicism from having been betrayed in matters of the heart.
Naturm Muriaticum - possible shadow thoughts and perspectives = If only I would have done things differently my loved one would not have left. I'll never be loved that same way ever again. I'll never be loved. I can never trust my heart with someone again.
Natrum Muriaticum - sampling of keynote physical symptoms = arthritis, kidney/urinary tract issues, salt craving, headaches/migraines, low back pain, neurological disorders.