What Is A Shadow Self? The Winter Solstice May Encourage You To Open Up To Others

Ad failed to load

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the person you’ve become over the past 12 months, and how to progress in the new year. It all starts with the winter solstice on Thursday, Dec. 21, when the shortest day and longest night of the year kicks off the cold weather months, and inches us closer to the Christmas holiday. The greatest time of year can also be the most expressive for some of us, and the transition from fall to winter plays a key role in the unmasking of what a "shadow self" is. The idea of the shadow self explores the personality fragments each and every one of us represses from others. But when day turns to night during the winter solstice, our innermost thoughts and feelings come into the spotlight for review. Sounds daunting, doesn't it?

In an interview with Refinery29, seeress and shaman Deborah Hanekamp of Mama Medicine explained that the winter solstice falls in tandem with the anticipation of the new year, new you ideal. We’ve grown accustomed to making adjustments as a sort of "cleanse" from one year to the next, but according to Hanekamp, aside from the popular trends encouraging new fitness, health, and aesthetic goals, the winter solstice challenges us to dig deeper. Nature, she said, asks us “to really accept ourselves,” in order to “prepare for personal growth.”

Everyone chooses to hide parts of themselves from the rest of the world, for one reason or another.

Ad failed to load

Most, if not all of us, have our secrets, and it’s not uncommon to mold into different versions of ourselves based on our surroundings. Whether this is something we do as a result of insecurities or for privacy reasons, there’s always more to a person than what they’re putting on display.

Think of it this way: Are you the same person around your parents as you are around your best friends? Now consider how you act and think when you’re by yourself. Can you honestly say that who you are when you leave your apartment or dorm room in the morning shines through in every aspect or interaction of your day? Choosing which parts of your personality to reveal in any given circumstance is natural. Behavior scientist and relationship coach Clarissa Silva says social media is also partly to blame.

"The shadow self is a result of social comparison," Silva tells Elite Daily. "For many, this is creating a paradox effect: the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity, but masking one’s true persona."

Ad failed to load

In other words, social media has caused us to portray ourselves one way on the internet, and another in real life. I know myself, and I've gone through a few different phases on Instagram, trying to "brand" myself as a beauty guru and fitness influencer to feel a sense of validation. Silva says that this behavior "creates a constant state of competing with who you want to be perceived as, and [who] you really are."

Though the social media connection here isn't exactly natural or beneficial to our mental health in any way, Dr. Sherry Benton, chief science officer, founder, and creator of TAO Connect, agrees that hiding different parts of ourselves from others is not only healthy, but it's also self-protective.

Dr. Benton tells Elite Daily that the people we consider members of our "inner circle" are the ones we "feel very close [to] and with whom we share the most." People outside our close-knit circle are, to varying degrees, distanced from us. These are the people — like our bosses or acquaintances — who, when interacting with them, "we edit how much and what we share."

Ad failed to load

It's great to let your shadow self out during the winter solstice, but there's a healthy way to do so.

Personally, I'm hyper-aware of the fact that I trust people too quickly. I also have a tendency to overshare when I feel comfortable with someone or in a certain environment. During the winter solstice, and throughout the remainder of the holiday season, it's not uncommon for people to open up and, Dr. Benton says, feel a kind of "cultural pull toward closeness and interpersonal connections."  

Ad failed to load

“We all need some close connections," Dr. Benton tells Elite Daily, "But individual preferences vary widely. It’s important to acknowledge and respect your own comfort level and go with it.”

Tapping into your shadow self, whether it's during the winter solstice or any other time of year, isn't a bad thing. Sharing your dreams, fears, even just random thoughts about what's going on in the world can be beneficial for your mental health, and strengthen the bond of your relationships. Being aware of this tendency to open up, though, is something to keep in the back of your mind when you're celebrating with a certain group of people, or chatting with family members over Christmas dinner. Remember to honor your emotions, and to assess the situation before you express yourself to someone you wouldn't be comfortable with outside the circumstances.

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

5 Trends From The '90s Are Making A Serious Comeback, So Somebody Page Cher Horowitz

I was born in the '90s and my childhood was one Caboodles train case packed with scrunchies and butterfly clips after another. If you could believe it, early '90s fashion is already considered vintage (I officially feel old AF) and according to sprin…
By Stephanie Montes

This New Snapchat Feature Is Going To Make Your Stories Look Even Better

Giphy is officially taking over social media, and I'm not upset about it. After invading Instagram stories with funny animated stickers, the company partnered with Snapchat — and now, we're finally able to fill our Snaps with hilarious GIFs. In other…
By Amanda Fama

Your Weekly Horoscope Is Here & Luckily, It's All Good Things

Pat yourself on the back because you survived not only one but two major eclipses. The last few weeks have been one obstacle after another but you made it. You dealt with the pain, held it together, and prevailed. Now, your February 19, 2018 weekly h…
By Roya Backlund

6 Subtle Red Flags That Could Mean You’re Sleeping Way Too Much

Have you ever woken up after an unusually long night of sleep and felt, well, kind of awful? Whether you roll out of bed feeling super dehydrated, nursing a throbbing a headache, or you simply feel stiff as a board, there are reasons why your body mi…
By Annakeara Stinson

These 6 Workouts Can Be Done Right On Your Couch, & Yes, They Do Count As Exercise

Ever have that feeling when you're watching the Olympics like you should be working out, or at least stretching, but in reality you're just laying around eating chips? Yeah, me neither. But if you do ever feel that pull to work out when you're just l…
By Annakeara Stinson

10 Things You Should Say To Your Partner Every Day To Keep The Love Alive

When it coms to love, falling into it is a lot easier than maintaining it. There’s a reason, after all, that it's called "falling" in love, because it's mostly out of your control — the heart just takes over. Because those emotions come so easily and…
By Rachel Shatto

Science Says These 8 Foods Can Help You Live Longer, So Eat Up

If you're looking to live forever, or at least for an appropriately long amount of time, then the best way to get started on your journey toward immortality is to think about what you're putting into your body for fuel. Think of your diet as the batt…
By Caroline Burke

I Live In London & When Guys Find Out I'm American, They Only See Me As A Fling

I first entered the world of dating apps during a semester abroad in London, and I had zero idea what I was getting myself into. I was 21, had only ever dated boys I'd met through work, school, or mutual friends, and my appreciation for romantic come…
By Genevieve Wheeler

Here's Exactly How You'll Fall In Love, Based On Your Astrological Sign

One of my favorite things about learning about my zodiac sign and others' is learning patterns about my behavior that I can acknowledge and use to my advantage. As a Scorpio sun sign, I know I'm typically described as mysterious, drawn to loyal peopl…
By Elana Rubin

These 8 Red Flags Might Mean You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard In Your Workouts

If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," or you frequently exclaim that your HIIT circuits "hurt so good," you're probably the type of person who challenges yourself to the max during your workouts. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, i…
By Georgina Berbari

I Tried Vegan "Spacepaste" & It Looks Like Straight-Up LED Lights On Your Face

As you might have noticed, 2018 is the year for glitter. So many brands have been releasing shining, shimmering formulations like they're going out of style. We're not even halfway through February, and Lemonhead LA has already launched the best glit…
By Kim Carpluk

These "Awkward" Proposal Stories Show There's No One Perfect Way To Get Engaged

There are a few adjectives people use to describe proposal stories that tend to be a bit more common than the rest. You know what I mean. How many times have you heard someone describe their marriage proposal as "magical" or "romantic" or — my person…
By Candice Jalili

This $20 Toy Simulates Pimple Popping, So You Can Save Your Face (But Still Lose Your Dignity)

As a self-proclaimed popaholic, I am not ashamed to admit that I love watching pimple popping and blackhead extraction videos. Call me gross, but I find it immensely therapeutic and satisfying. To all of my fellow weirdos, we’ve been blessed with a n…
By Ariana Marsh

Everyone Is So Thirsty Over This “Photo” Of Obama With Facial Hair

It's been a hot minute since President Barack Obama left the Oval office (though it feels like ages), and a lot of us miss him dearly. After leaving the White House, the 44th president remained out of the public eye for a little while, decompressing …
By Daniella Bondar

Meghan Markle Uses This $13 Natural Wonder To Grow Her Eyebrows Back & You Can Too

Meghan Markle is the world's new go-to celebrity for all things fashion and beauty — she's marrying a prince after all, so she must have some tricks up her sleeve. Meghan Markle's beauty routine is just as intricate as mine, because that's how real s…
By Alison Turka

7 Foolproof Things To Do Every Day If You're Tired Of Being Lazy AF

Being lazy can be oh-so-lovely. Until you start letting life pass you by, and not living to your full potential, then suddenly, it's not so good anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends when I can stay snuggled up in bed just a bit longer. Hit…
By Marisa Casciano

This Is How Long Most People Wait To Say "I Love You," Science Says

If I had to choose one word to describe saying "I love you" to your partner for the first time, I'd have to go with... hmm, exciting? Nope. Thrilling? Hardly. Terrifying? YES. Exactly. Saying "I love you" for the first time is terrifying. What makes …
By Candice Jalili

6 Reasons To Travel Abroad With Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend In Your 20s

Traveling can be many things: hectic, expensive, and definitely stressful. But with the right people or person beside you, all those troubles kind of just melt away. That's why there are some solid reasons to travel abroad with your boyfriend or girl…
By Alani Vargas