How do Shadow Functions Work?
Shadow functions make themselves apparent at the point when you are under so much stress that your normal strategies are no longer working. When they take hold of you, you will find yourself acting in weird ways that aren’t typical of you. You may also notice that you are unable to comprehend your behavior when these shadows show themselves because you are following a behavior and instinct that are completely unlike you.
So if you have ever been in a stressful situation and notice yourself doing things and resorting to strategies that you have never considered before then this is most probably your shadow function at work. They are responsible for making you behave irrationally in completely vague ways which are morally unclear as well. This copying mechanism can at times turn out very bad because your shadow functions are part of your unconscious mind over which you don’t have any control. They act independently of your moral restraints and social codes.
It is therefore vital to understand this aspect of your personality and thus make it useful for yourself and the people around you.
The Role of Shadow Functions
Just like your four primary functions, you have four shadow functions as well. They perform an array of functions but there are some primary roles that they play which are categorized below:
The Opposing Personality
This personality is your fifth function, so for an ENFP, it is an introverted instinct. This fifth function acts opposite to your dominant function, questions the way you see the world and the goals you set. This is the part of you that’s stubborn, rigid, and argumentative and disapproves of the idea to get along with others and many other such incidents. This is the part of you that retaliates when your ego is hurt or under threat. It can develop and strengthen your dominant functions if put to positive use, but only a few people use it this way.
The Critical Parent
The shadow function on the sixth is usually called the critical parent because it is the shadow of the auxiliary. This is the part of you that enables you to understand other people’s weak spots and go for them straight when you are in a fight. This emotion can be directed outwardly towards others and inwardly towards yourself. It thinks nothing of humiliating or belittling others in the search for authority. You will probably put this part of the personality to use only when you are at the risk of losing someone or something important, but the damage it can cause is devastating. You can use this function to understand others in depth and when used positively can confer a state of wisdom that is truly remarkable.
The seventh shadow function is called the trickster and it is the troubling and deceiving part of you that is equally vital for your growth and individualization. This is the function that is cunning, illusory, manipulative, and responsible for creating the chaos around you. Using this function can make you feel bad or create confusion leading to bad decisions. It is this very function that is the most underrated one because there is little research done on it. It is also not trustworthy owing to its volatile nature.
Despite these shortcomings, it is the trickster that performs the vital task of protecting the child within you. It also provides inhibition and comic relief allowing you to play even after achieving adulthood.
The eighth function is commonly referred to as the demon and is also the only one that feels completely foreign to you. This makes whole sense as this is the shadow of your inferior function and it flares up only when you are in trouble. So the thought of it becoming more frightening seems logical and doesn’t seem like a stretch at all.
Your relationship with this function is so tainted, that you struggle with people who have this function as their dominant trait and you then project your worst qualities onto them. When activated this function can be utterly destructive and lead to actions that will probably be regrettable. Another problem with this function is that it is deeply rooted in your unconscious mind and will erupt unexpectedly and unconsciously impose itself.
Everyone needs to know about their shadow functions because their existence is real. There are no invariable rules for how they might appear. Everyone is different and to understand the shadow functions you need to dig deeper into yourself and discover the parts you typically shy away from. These types of explorations and discoveries aren’t easy but they are essential for your growth.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work for Beginners is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This resource gets updated at no additional cost.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This series goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for anyone dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work for Relationships teaches you everything you need to know about attachment theory, practical inner work, and your dysfunctional behavior. By the end of this, you will have developed your earned secure attachment style so you can put an end to your cycle of bad relationships.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Self-Love Subliminal for self-hypnotism that will help you change your behavior and gain self-love, self-awareness, better relationships, greater health, and improve your creativity.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.
Mindful & Mending is a small website that’s about self-hypnosis, affirmations, auto-suggestion, and more techniques & tools to help you shift your unconscious mind. Check it out here.