The Masculine Shadow: Signs, Symptoms, and How To Heal

There is a dark side to Masculinity, on a personal level and a cultural level. Oppression, violence, abuse, and greed can stem from the repressed Masculine.

In this article, I will give you the tools to recognize the Shadow Aspects of Masculinity and take steps to bring the Masculine into a healthy balance. 

What Is The Shadow Masculine?

The Masculine Shadow is the repressed and unconscious aspect of Masculinity. It manifests itself when the Masculine is out of balance and can lead to limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, and ruined relationships.

The theory of the Shadow comes from Carl Jung. He believed that the Shadow is the instinctive and irrational part of someone. It is the part that is denied and usually projected on other people. 

With Masculinity, that can look like all the uncivilized compulsions and dark attributes of Masculinity that people don’t like to admit. 

Aspects of the Masculine Shadow:

  • Violence in the name of justice
  • Unwanted sexual dominance
  • Unbalanced adrenaline-seeking
  • Unhealthy lust for power and stature

We all have these darker aspects to our personalities. 

The issue comes when you shame these parts of yourself. For example, men who were taught not to show any emotion repressed them into their shadows—eventually causing pain to men and others.

In my 20’s I was pushing away my Masculinity and took on all these unhealthy behaviors because of it. After working with Therapy and exploring Shadows through Archetype Work, I moved beyond a lot of these negative patterns. 

I have seen hundreds of men and women improve their life by facing their Masculine Shadow and integrating it to become a more holistic person. 

Learn More: Ultimate Starter Guide to Shadow Work

Signs You Are In Your Shadow Masculine

When you repress an aspect of your personality, you view that part of you as “bad.”

If you see someone else with the same personality traits that you repress, you will become annoyed, agitated, jealous, or upset.

That’s because it subconsciously reminds you of your own Shadow that you are trying to keep burying. 

The best way to uncover your Masculine Shadow is to watch what annoys the S%(@&* out of you. 

You can also track any negative behaviors that unexpectedly come out around other people. 

Here is a list of Shadow Behaviors:

  • Sexism and homophobia
  • Driven by shame and guilt
  • Vain and arrogant behaviors
  • Greed and Materialism
  • Self-centered behavior
  • Avoidant of intimacy
  • Lacking solid friendships
  • Constant comparison to others
  • Oppressive behaviors
  • Never enough attitude
  • Objectifying women
  • Violent or abusive

Usually, these behaviors come up out of nowhere. 

Like yelling at your partner, and later wondering what the hell happened. 

This is your Shadow trying to bubble up to the surface. 

I remember this one relationship in my 20’s where I kept saying the strangest things and being self-sabotaging. I realized later it came from a fear of abandonment. I was so afraid that a part of my Shadow thought I didn’t deserve love, mainly to protect myself from the pain.

Once I saw this pattern, I could change it. The strange outbursts and sabotage stopped. 

The key is to recognize these moments and try to take the time to figure out why and where they came from. I have a 3-part writing activity that you can use to recognize your Shadow

Integrating Your Shadow Masculine

Since the Shadow is the unrecognized parts of your Identity, all you have to do is bring awareness to these darker parts of yourself to integrate the Shadow.

It isn’t about “fixing” the Shadow. 

It’s about compassionately accepting these parts of yourself.  

I wrote an indepth article about the three steps for integrating the Shadow. 

  1. Recognize your Shadow through behaviors and triggers. 
  2. Face the Shadow and try to understand where it comes from
  3. Accept these parts of yourself. 

>>> Check out this indepth article on the steps to integrate your Shadow

I also really enjoy this video on Integrating the Shadow:

Masculinity: Our Cultural Shadow

The Masculine Shadow is generally seen on an individual level, but it can also be seen culturally. When society denies or represses aspects of itself, it is perpetuating the Masculine Shadow. 

This can be seen throughout history, especially in fashion and Masculine expectations. 

There have been many moments in human history that being heavyset was in fashion. It has only gone out of fashion for a short time in human history and is becoming more normalized again. 

When being heavyset was “out of fashion,” Masculinity was defined by how slim and fit you were. Then the compulsions to eat sweets and fatty food were seen as “un-masculine.” In other words, those traits were repressed and pushed into the Masculine Shadow. 

We can also see this through Racism in the United States when it was considered culturally acceptable to be a bigot. 

America, well some people, try to pretend as if America is not racist today and forget the past. That pushes these intergenerational traumas into the cultural Shadow and can affect Black men of today. 

There have been countless studies, such as this study by the University of California, documenting the impact of Racism and Masculinity.

Whenever society tries to deny the problems around masculinity or shames men for certain characteristics, it pushes things into the Shadow Masculine.

These cultural Shadows can trickle down to the individual and lead to negative behaviors.

As a society, we can heal the Masculine Shadow by bringing awareness to our past, admitting our faults, and coming to terms with the darker aspects of our culture.

Masculine Shadow VS Toxic Masculinity

The Masculine Shadow is the repressed aspect of Masculinity. Toxic Masculinity is negative behaviors that are pushed onto men/youth to try and make them fit an unhealthy version of Masculinity. 

Both of these terms deal with negative behaviors, and they can overlap, but there is a subtle difference. 

Toxic Masculinity, by its nature, is very “out in the open.” It’s what society sells as Masculine, but in reality, they are harmful behaviors. 

A classic example is shaming a boy for crying.

Most men face these pressures out in the open.

The negative behaviors the men take on to cope with Toxic Mascuolinty are the Masculine Shadow. 

Like men pushing down their emotions, watching porn alone, and drinking to numb the pain, these are shadows that can directly result from Toxic Masculinity. 

In Conclusion:

The Masculine Shadow is the repressed aspect of Masculinity, that when kept in the dark, can cause deep pain. An essential part of healing the Masculine is bringing conscious awareness to the Shadow. 

If you find yourself doing things you regret or unexpectedly hurting your loved ones, shadow work could be a very healing experience. 

It takes courage to undergo this work, and I will try and support you as much as I can with articles and resources here at HeroRise. 

If you are interested in Shadow Work, I highly suggest you check out these articles:

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Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.

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