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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: When the Self Drowns Out All Else swamped by the shadow self
Author: Fraser Trevor
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When the Self Drowns Out All Else swamped by the shadow self, at war with the child within and creates a strong aversion to the truth or...

When the Self Drowns Out All Else swamped by the shadow self, at war with the child within and creates a strong aversion to the truth or reality of the personal perfect child within


The patterns of shadow self behaviour include egotism, an unhealthy need for attention, an inflated sense of entitlement, and obliviousness to the rights, needs and wants of others – unless they are somehow useful. These are self-centred ways of relating to others

What It Feels Like:
Living with or being involved with a person with a shadow self obsession can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.

It can feel like you have to perform “mental gymnastics” from dealing with the lying (even when confronted with undeniable proof), the gas-lighting, the triangulation, the projection, the constant contradictions, the manipulation, blame-shifting, the charm they lay on, the inflated sense of self - even subtle forms of torture, such as sleep-deprivation these people inflict on their victims - appears to be conscious and calculated to push the target of their “affections” past their limits, into surrender - and ultimately into total compliance - as a source of Supply. Children, spouses, friends, lovers - those closest to a shadow self - are not considered individuals in their own right by the shadow self - but rather extensions or, in the worst cases, the property of the constructed shadow self.

Even after finding out that you are dealing with a disordered self, if you don’t protect or remove yourself from the situation, you may find yourself entering into a state of mind where you instinctively try to fix or fight the shadow self’s illogical attitudes and behaviours. You may find yourself becoming hyper-vigilant, trying to second guess them, trip them up, lay down ultimatums, call them on their lies, or constantly trying to stay one-step ahead of their ever-changing rule-book. You may even find yourself trying to mirror their behaviours to some extent in order to manipulate them, as they have manipulated you. This can be both futile and attractive to the shadow self, as they often relish the challenge. If you ever do manage to get “one-up” on the shadow, it is likely to be a hollow “victory” at best. They may rage, play the victim, or disappear. None of these outcomes gives the victim any true satisfaction.

The Shadow Self has the characteristics of vampiric lifestyle, attaching themselves to us in a way that drains us of your resources (emotional, mental and financial) and leaves us questioning our own self-worth and sanity. Often, they are able to imitate or approximate caring about others when it is convenient for them to do so. However, they typically do not perceive that anything outside of their own sphere of wants and needs matters. It simply doesn’t occur to them to consider the needs of anyone else, or the long-term consequences of their own behaviours. They can be highly intelligent, witty, talented, likeable, and fun to be around. They can also elicit sympathy like nobody’s business. The shadows are opportunistic. They can make a show of being “generous” but their generosity usually has strings attached.

They tend to isolate their victims, sucking up their time and energy, many times robbing their own families, spouses and partners of an external support system.

They are excellent liars and many prefer to lie, even when telling the truth would be more beneficial to them. This suggests that lying is a hallmark of their pathology.

They are often highly competitive and argumentative. They lash out when presented with opinions that contradict their own or when confronted with their own lies or  behaviours.

They can be calculating and extremely persuasive and susceptible to erratic thinking and impulsive decision making.

Shadow Selves can be self-destructive as often as they are destructive to others. They have a great deal of trouble accepting responsibility for their own actions, under any circumstance.

Shadow Selves have the propensity to becoming addictive personalities and shadow selves are commonly co-morbid with addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, spending and gambling.

Shadow selves are rarely alone. They like to feed on the energy of others, and to have an audience to reflect back to them the person they want to see themselves as, and are drawn to standard recovery groups.

Shadow Selves are good at pretending, but typically do not feel compassion or empathy or consider the feelings or well-being of others. They tend to be singularly focused on getting their own needs met, at the expense of the needs of others.

While shadow selves generally portray a lack of conscience, they typically have an intellectual awareness of what they are doing and how they hurt others. They simply do not care.

Being kind to a shadow self in the face of their maltreatment is a common approach of family members and partners. However, this can result in further frustration as it is rarely reciprocated and tends to feed their sense of entitlement, opening the door for more abuse.

Other feelings you may experience when dealing with a shadow self in the home or at work:

You may feel like this person readily puts you down just to elevate themselves.
You may find yourself avoiding them because trying to communicate with them leaves you feeling confused, put-down, reduced to a lesser status and emptied of all that you know you really are.
You may feel overwhelmed, “out-gunned”, tongue-tied or overpowered in their presence.
You may feel blown away by their powerful personality, self-assuredness, self-belief and self-confidence.
Your own legitimate needs may be taking a back seat to their own frivolous, self-serving ambitions.
When receiving a compliment or apology, you may be left feeling patronised, demeaned, brought down to size and even humiliated.
You may attempt to compromise with them - only to realise later you are the only one who gave any substantial ground.
You may feel like your hard work and contributions are only being used, abused and distorted to meet the selfish ambitions of another.

Living with a person who has a pronounced shadow self can have a devastating effect on our self-esteem, confidence and quality of life for all family members, friends and partners. Students sometimes feel as though the shadow self of another is refusing to “grow up” or will revert back to childish ways whenever it suits them. The Student often feels used, cheated and taken advantage of by the shadow self in their life.


The Ten Stages uses Loving-Kindfulness as a taught course and numerous meditational practices to counter this pathology within side its taught courses and seeks to identify this behaviour within itself and others shining the light into the shadow and banishing the pathology with confrontation and strong independent kindfulness first to our selves as a counter balance to dysfunction.
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