shadow

“It’s always standing right behind us, just out of view. In any direct light, we cast a shadow. The shadow is a psychological term for everything we can’t see in ourselves.

Most of us go to great lengths to protect our self-image from anything unflattering or unfamiliar. And so it’s easier to observe another’s shadow before acknowledging one’s own shadow.

Exploring your shadow can lead to greater authenticity, creativity, energy, and personal awakening. This introspective process is essential for reaching mature adulthood (which is rarer than most think).

The shadow is the “dark side” of our personality because it consists chiefly of primitive, negative human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, desire, and the striving for power.

All we deny in ourselves—whatever we perceive as inferior, evil, or unacceptable—become part of the shadow.

Anything incompatible with our chosen conscious attitude about ourselves relegates to this dark side.

The personal shadow is the disowned self. This shadow self represents the parts of us we no longer claim to be our own, including inherent positive qualities.

These unexamined or disowned parts of our personality don’t go anywhere. Although we deny them in our attempt to cast them out, we don’t get rid of them.

So what happens to all the parts of ourselves we sweep out of view?

Whatever qualities we deny in ourselves, we see in others.

In psychology, this is called projection. We project onto others anything we bury within us.

If, for example, you get irritated when someone is rude to you, it’s a good bet you haven’t owned your own rudeness.”

excerpted from A Complete Guide to Getting to Know Your Darker Half by Scott Jeffrey; https://scottjeffrey.com/

As challenging as it is to watch what is happening in the US, I’m reminded of a few things. One, what we see here, we’ve seen in other countries, and it’s visible in some surprising ways now. Two, and what is apparent to me, is that we are coming to a reckoning with the sleeping giant, the underbelly, which has been awakened and enlivened here. The shadow of our country has been buried for long enough. To quote Leonard Cohen,

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

I know I am not alone in wondering to myself and often aloud to trusted friends, “What can I do?”

I feel there is an unspoken imperative to move as swiftly as possible toward healing all of the country’s wounds. These painful wounds have occurred for many generations, and it will take many to heal them. We have to begin. Beginning is an imperative. If we are to survive, in this country and on this planet, we must begin.

Until and unless we face our own shadows, those disowned parts of ourselves which hold our buried shame, painful experiences, and traumas, we will have little or nothing to add to the collective healing. We will otherwise add what is hidden…and unconscious.

It’s easy to share posts and memes on social media which talk about healing, or the need to do it. It’s hard to actually do the work.

The cracks in the foundations of our democracy have been there from the beginning…and so that light has continued to shine – to some degree. Still, we have so much more that must be tended to…and it begins with each one of us.

The above mentioned website can be a start. There are several authors whose work is mentioned or cited in the writings there.

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

12 thoughts on “shadow

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