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When using color personality, what does it mean to be operating in your shadow?

We know that understanding our personality type will point us toward our unique genius, talents and strengths. The corollary of that awareness is that we can also become aware of our skill gaps and limitations that are the opposite of our personality type. Reds and Greens are opposite personality types. Reds are steady, stable and predictable producers that execute the task list better than any other type. But they generally do not have the emotional awareness, the relationship skill, the big picture thinking or the flexibility of their Green counterparts in the personality world. Greens are geniuses in understanding the emotional undercurrents and relationships in play in a problem and at using their intuition to see the big picture and to create nuanced and multi-faceted solutions to complex problems. The challenge for Greens is to develop the clarity, structure, organization and bottom line management skills of the Red personality.

Oranges and Yellows are also opposites. Oranges are exceptional at paying attention to other people with sensitivity and care. They see details and manage processes and people in ways that make things run smoothly and that create warm and harmonious conditions. They may struggle, however, to see the big picture at times and to face and confront challenges in a direct and effective way. Their need for stability and harmony may interfere with their ability to make necessary changes or to have direct and clear conversations with others. Yellows are generally very good at seeing the big picture, analyzing complex situations, and making necessary changes toward the most strategic outcomes. They are objective and analytical straight talkers that will tell you what they think. They may have more difficulty, however, dealing with the emotional nuances of a situation, paying attention to others with sensitivity and care, and attending to the details that can upend the strategy.

These gaps or vulnerabilities that each of us carry are what Carl Jung referred to as the “shadow” parts of our personality. They are the parts of us that are less skillful or less conscious because of our personality wiring. They make us feel stressed, uncomfortable and uncertain. They may make us feel defensive or protective and cause us to get rigid in our interactions with others. The secret to dealing with our shadow parts is to know they are there, and to seek support and advice from others that are more skillful in these areas when needed. We need to go soft rather than go rigid when we are in our shadow parts, and to partner with others that have more capacity in our areas of vulnerability. This is why opposites attract. We see in others the skills, talents and awarenesses we lack and are attracted to those complimentary qualities. But if we are not aware of our vulnerabilities in these shadow parts, we may get into combative relationships with our opposites and miss out on the rich perspective and skill others can bring to bear in challenging situations.

We can grow as people through activating our gifts and strengths, but we can also grow through integrating our shadow parts. We integrate our shadow parts by bringing them into awareness, being gentle with our feelings of vulnerability, and seeking and accepting help from others when we hit these places of discomfort. In this way we become more skillful when working in our shadow parts, and ultimately more and more effective in our personal and professional lives.

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