7 ways to spot your shadow self (no bullsh*t guide)

Our shadow self is a representation of our subconscious mind.

If left unchecked, it can rule over your life without you even knowing about it.

I will go over seven ways to know how to live your best life and not be ruled by your shadow self.

What is your shadow self?

Your shadow self is a representation of your subconscious mind.

It represents your hidden qualities and desires, as well as the qualities you dislike in yourself.

Essentially, your shadow self is all the characteristics you usually don’t show out in the open (consciously or subconsciously).

Your shadow is made up of everything that makes you human.

It is what makes you unique, and it is not bad or good – it’s just a part of who you are.

You see, it can be the inner voice that whispers in your head, the feelings you have when you are alone or even the habits you do without thinking.

You might not be aware of it, but what happens to you today is greatly influenced by this part of your personality.

If left unchecked, it can rule over your life without you even knowing about it.

The shadow self can be hard to recognize, but the more you pay attention, the easier it will be.

In this article, I will go over seven ways to know how to live your best life and not be ruled by your shadow self.

1) Judging people

One way to spot your shadow self is when you find yourself judging people.

If you notice that you are judging people all the time, it might be because your shadow self is trying to make you feel like you are better than everyone else.

We judge people because we want to prove that we are better or on some type of higher level than them, but this is really an illusion.

You should always be open-minded and not have any type of judgment towards people until you know for sure who they are.

And the crazy part?

Well, if you wanna get really deep here, I have a secret for you:

Whenever you judge someone, pay close attention to what you are judging them for.

You see, whatever you can’t stand about another person is an aspect of yourself you haven’t integrated yet.

This is really important!

It is an aspect of yourself that you are denying.

And when you deny certain parts of yourself, they will try to control your life by making you feel bad about other people.

So, let’s say you’re a woman and you judge another woman for wearing revealing clothing in public.

The bitter truth is, the reason you judge her is because a part of you would love to embody your femininity and freedom and you feel jealous seeing someone else do it effortlessly.

So, what can you do about that?

Well, you can start by using every incidence of judging someone as an opportunity to learn about yourself.

Ask yourself what part of yourself you could be repressing and then find ways to empower that part of you.

2) Playing the victim

Playing the victim all the time is a prime way to spot your shadow self.

You might do this as a way to gain pity from others or validate your feelings.

Playing the victim role can cause people to not want to get close to you because they know that you always need help and are hard for them to be around.

Some ways you might be playing the victim in your life are:

  • not taking responsibility for your actions
  • blaming others for your failures
  • wallowing in self-pity all the time
  • not feeling confident
  • always petty when it comes to other people’s successes
  • always having an excuse for why you can’t do something (and it never has to do with you)

As you can tell, playing the victim will not get you far in life.

Sure, at first it might be nice to get validation from others, but that’s pretty much where the fun ends.

The only way you can be successful and feel empowered in life is when you stop playing the victim!

Sure, some things aren’t your fault, but playing the victim won’t change the situation, will it?

No, it will not.

If you want to get out of the victim role, you need to take responsibility for your actions.

This is a huge step in the right direction.

The thing is, if you always play the victim you start having the mindset that life is happening to you, not for you.

You believe the world is out to get you and you have no power.

Let me tell you something:

In order to get out of the victim role, you need to realize one important thing.

You will never be able to control other people’s actions, whether that’s someone taking your job, someone robbing you, or being rejected by your crush.

You can, however, take full responsibility for how you respond to these situations.

Once you realize that no matter what happens, you got yourself, you will realize you’re not a victim, after all.

A good way to get out of the victim role is by finding your own unique purpose in this world.

You see, the consequences of not finding your purpose in life include a general sense of frustration, listlessness, dissatisfaction, and a sense of not being connected with your inner self.

It’s difficult to not feel like a victim when you’re not feeling in sync.

I learned a new way to discover my purpose after watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s video on the hidden trap of improving yourself. He explains that most people misunderstand how to find their purpose, using visualization and other self-help techniques.

However, visualization isn’t the best way to find your purpose. Instead, there’s a new way to do it which Justin Brown learned from spending time with a shaman in Brazil.

After watching the video, I discovered my purpose in life and it dissolved my feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. This helped me to get out of the victim role and face my shadow self.

3) Projecting problems onto others

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Projecting problems onto others is a way to avoid responsibility.

We see this in our relationships and at work.

This is one of the ways that your shadow self can rule over you without you even noticing.

When we project problems, we are saying that it’s not our fault and it’s someone else’s.

Your shadow self will try to make you believe that the problems in your life are caused by other people, but that is not true.

If you want to be free from your shadow self, then you must take responsibility for everything in your life.

Stop blaming other people for your problems and start owning up to them.

If you want to be really honest with yourself, then ask yourself: “How am I responsible for the problems in my life?”

Taking ownership of your life like that will leave you feeling empowered and strong.

This also has to do with your issues.

When you notice yourself projecting your own issues onto other people, that’s when you can find your shadow self.

For example, let’s say your girlfriend has done nothing wrong, but your insecurity made you lash out at her for “flirting with someone” (even though you know she didn’t really).

This projection of your issues onto someone else is a prime example of your shadow self coming to the surface!

4) Being a hater online

This is a big one.

One of the most common ways people are ruled by their shadow self is by being a hater online.

There are many different situations where you may find yourself hating someone online, but it doesn’t make it right.

Hate has no place in our world and if you find yourself in these situations, take a step back and think about what you’re doing.

You never know who might be reading your words or how they’ll feel reading them.

But let’s get to the psychological aspect of this.

Why do people say horrible things online that they would never say in person?

The anonymity of the internet gives them a false sense of power.

They think that because no one knows who they are, they can say whatever they want.

The more you get into this mindset of hating online, the more you become a slave to your shadow self and your ego.

It will start to consume you and show itself in other areas of your life as well.

So: catch yourself before you insult someone the next time.

5) Getting triggered

One way to know if you are being ruled by your shadow self is when you get triggered.

When we get triggered, it’s because we are feeling something that we’ve been repressing.

A lot of the time, our shadow self is trying to tell us something.

For example, if you keep getting triggered by your boss, then there is probably something there that needs to be looked at.

When you are triggered, you become more sensitive and reactive to the world around you.

You feel more vulnerable and less in control of things.

It’s not fun being triggered, I know.

However, triggers are an amazing opportunity to learn more about where you can improve and grow a bit.

Remember that when you find yourself getting really triggered by something and react out of proportion, chances are that you are reliving something that happened in the past.

So, triggers can give you a hint as to which events in your life you haven’t fully processed yet!

But how can you deal with a trigger?

I get it, dealing with a trigger can be hard, especially if you’ve been engaging with that same trigger over and over again.

If that’s the case, I highly recommend watching this free breathwork video, created by the shaman, Rudá Iandê.

Rudá isn’t another self-professed life coach. Through shamanism and his own life journey, he’s created a modern-day twist to ancient healing techniques.

The exercises in his invigorating video combine years of breathwork experience and ancient shamanic beliefs, designed to help you relax and check in with your body and soul.

After many years of suppressing my emotions, Rudá’s dynamic breathwork flow quite literally revived that connection.

And that’s what you need:

A spark to reconnect you with your feelings so that you can begin focusing on the most important relationship of all – the one you have with yourself.

So if you’re ready to take back control over your mind, body, and soul, if you’re ready to say goodbye to anxiety and stress, check out his genuine advice below.

Here’s a link to the free video again.

6) Taking it out on people under your command

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One of the easy ways to spot your shadow self is that you take it out on people under your command.

If you come into work in a bad mood and decide to take it out on someone who works with you, this is a clear sign that something is off.

You should take a few minutes for yourself and find out what’s wrong before continuing on with your day.

Taking your feelings out on people who are under your command is an excellent invitation to look at what or who you are really angry about.

Spoiler alert: it’s probably not the people working for you, but rather someone superior to you.

Learn how to cope with your emotions in a way that doesn’t hurt innocent people.

7) Not setting boundaries

One way to know if your shadow self is ruling over you without you even knowing about it is if you allow people to walk all over you.

If someone has done something wrong against you and yet, you’re still being nice to them, or if someone does something that hurts your feelings and yet, you’re not getting mad at them, this could be a sign that your shadow self is in control.

Setting healthy boundaries is important in order to live a happy life.

You need to set boundaries for every relationship you have.

If you don’t, and you allow people to walk all over you, you will always feel unfulfilled.

Not setting boundaries will also affect your health because if someone is doing something that hurts your feelings and you let them, this will make you sad and sick over time.

Even though some people might seem like they deserve to be treated with respect (for example, an older relative or a friend who’s been there for you), it’s important that you also set boundaries with these people as well.

If they do something wrong against you, it’s important that they know that what they did was wrong and hurtful, even though they might mean well.

This way, the relationship stays healthy and positive for both parties involved.

Boundaries don’t have to be mean, but they do need to be clear and concise.


This is a tough post, I know.

It’s hard to admit these things about yourself.

The good news is, once you do, you’ll be able to make the necessary changes to your life to lead a more fulfilling one.

The first step is recognizing your shadow self.

After that, you need to make a commitment not to indulge those feelings and behaviors anymore.

Lastly, it’s always important to be practicing self-love and taking care of yourself.

The world will be a better place when we have more people who are in touch with themselves – and their shadow selves – and who are committed to leading a more fulfilling life.

Picture of Anna Scheucher

Anna Scheucher

Freelance writer specializing in holistic health, wellness, and psychology. Check out my blog to find out more https://www.fullyholistic.com/!

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