The fears of who we are or think we are can keep us from accepting the divine invitation from God to know Him. As we KNOW so must we be KNOWN. Of course God does actually know us, but free will allows us to set up limits, deciding how far we want to go. The parts of ourselves we keep in the unconscious, both good and unacceptable, are hidden from others and hinder us from a fuller relationship with God by our own decision. Just like in human relationships, intimacy grows with each revelation to the other.
If I have judged my lazy self to be a weakness and a bad quality, I cast it down into my unconscious where it still exists as my shadow. I work hard, drive myself, persevere, and negatively judge people I view as lazy. Now, I do not take that lazy part of me to prayer, consciously. I pray out of the image I have myself. God is absolutely there but He will enter only as far as I will give Him room to do so.
How do you know what parts of you are cast into shadow? A very simple clue is found in paying attention to those people who instantly draw a negative or highly positive reaction from you. This is called projection and is an invaluable tool for inner work. When you automatically dislike a person or she gets on your nerves almost immediately, it is a projection from you onto her from your own shadow the very same negative quality you perceived in her. Now, she may be a “hook” for that disliked quality meaning she is actually like that but the fact that you react strongly to it means that you have denied that in yourself.
When I was finally honest about the lazy person in me who needed some time to relax and enjoy the world in a better balance from too much endeavor, I was free from spending energy hiding it and more relaxed and open with God and with others. You can observe behavior in another that you do not like but it is your shadow when it elicits an energy that draws you in.
This is the same for the shadow which carries fine and good qualities about yourself that were denied and put away a long time ago. This seems contradictory because it would seem we would all want to have important talents but talents and callings take time, energy, sacrifice, priority, and discipline. These requirements are not always how one may choose to spend his days. Sometimes the gold is commanded to the shadow because it is not something acceptable in the family, the society, or the culture. A dancing career for a son is not welcomed in a family of sports enthusiasts or vice-verse. A mother is afraid for her daughter to be too smart and educated or the mother is too ambitious for the daughter to achieve academically when the girl loves fashion. Those talents are then locked away.
You will come to know the gold in your shadow by the same projection tool. When someone enlivens you, activates you, sparks something in you, you have projected your shadow onto his hook. That person may carry your projection for awhile until you are ready to do so but if you never claim it for yourself, you have missed the chance to know yourself more and move closer to your true self, where God is waiting. What you see in that person who attracts you and you admire so much is what is also in you.
Awareness and do not be afraid, or be afraid and do it anyway.