Our shadow self is that part of us which we sometimes feel ashamed of: the feelings, behaviours and emotions which we consider negative and not something we'd like others to see. The shadow traits go against our particular value sets and so can vary from person to person. Examples would be guilt, judgement, impatience, anger to name but a few.

So, why do I say we should get to know it and how is that helpful?

If you are someone who has never been angry, never hurt anyone else's feelings, never been selfish or greedy. Well, you may well be - not a human! Truth is, we all have elements of 'negative' behaviour and if we all have them, they must be part of the human condition.

What we tend to do is to deny these parts as they don't live up to our expectations of ourselves. Our brains are so clever that they even go to the lengths of projecting these elements on to others: 'he's so greedy', 'she's irrational', 'they are such no-it-alls' etc. Reality can be that this actually applies to ourselves, not the other but we don't want to see it and so we push it on to another or repress our true feelings.

However, what happens typically when you repress something, deny it? It comes back, and back and back. Thing is, we push it away so much that we don't acknowledge it and so cannot get to the bottom of why it even exists, so there is really no hope that we can ever eradicate it, should we choose to.

By getting to know our patterns, our attitudes and deciding which bits we want to keep and which we would like to change, we can make a plan to do just that. There's the key, GETTING TO KNOW THEM. You need to know and understand something in order to modify it.

Once we accept and recognise these elements of our shadow selves, we can see them coming, pause them and decide if they are helpful or not in any particular situation.

If I acknowledge that I tend to worry, keep evidence of when and where this happens most, next time it happens I can ask myself if I really need to do it this time. It's as if you become your own best friend and can give yourself your advice (let's face it, we all have very good advice to give and are best placed to advise ourselves).

So our shadow selves can help us, but at times they are surplus to our requirements - taking time to get to know them, we can decide when and where they are welcome; we can talk about them honestly and, with practise, can even laugh at them.