It's so important to recognize our own shadow side, often in psychological terms associated with the dark, hidden and repressed parts of our personality. These are the parts of our character that we'd rather not see—and we certainly would rather no one else knew about them. We certainly don't want to admit to being capable of evil—or even to hurting others.
It's when we can be honest about that dark side, however, that we can be truly forgiving and accepting of others. It is then that we can more easily drop our judgments and criticisms of others.
When I catch myself passing judgment on the behavior of someone in a news story, for example, I have to ask myself whether, given the wrong set of circumstances in my life, I might also do the same thing. I need to be honest with myself. Once I've accepted my shadow side, I've fully accepted my self. My whole self. The good Sonia. The bad Sonia. And everything in between.
It is then that I can truly feel compassion for others, that I can accept them (even when I might not like what they have done) and, yes, even forgive them. Then I can know what it is to accept and to love fully.
It's not easy to look at our shadow side. It's not pretty. It's important work, and it's freeing. It leads to compassion toward others and to self-compassion. Isn't that a worthy goal?