Recently I am again fascinated by the idea of the Shadow, which was formed by C.G. Jung. It seems to me, that it is one of the most important concepts to be able to transform from a conflict driven interaction with oneself and others to a more harmonious and loving but also conscious way to be in the world. This, of course, makes all the difference. It is a big deal, whether I manage to accept myself and others or if I am constantly denying what is.
But first: What is the Jungian shadow anyhow? – Well, the idea is, that we suppress certain things, that are part of us, actually of every human being. We are always everything. But we don’t accept everything. Through experiences and education, social norms and adaptation to those, we start pushing certain parts of ourselves away, thus living a fragmented existence. Healing, becoming whole, means integrating those parts, that we have learned to deny, to welcome everything that is hidden in our so-called “shadow”.
Outside as Inside – We push the mirrored Shadow away
The interesting part of shadow work is, that everyone and everything can be your teacher. This is possible due to the mechanism of the shadow. See, things we suppress, let’s say anger, for example, tend to annoy us, anywhere we are confronted with it in the world. Since we tried to eradicate anger from our system, we are not allowing it in the world either. Anger is not welcome, in no way. So if somebody with their anger deeply placed into their shadow meets a choleric and angry person, it will make them very upset and/or frightened and there will be a feeling of wanting to distance yourself from that person or situation.
It makes sense because the system of suppressed anger is made up of the belief, that anger is per se wrong. So anyone expressing anger will not be met with compassion, understanding or any other tool we need, to resolve conflicts. Instead, there is some sort of repulsion, because anger is seemingly wrong. Totally black and white thinking, right? (Or shall I say shadow and light thinking?)
Use the world as your teacher
Since you meet your shadow in the mirror of the world all the time, you can, as I said before, easily work with it. Here is the recipe: every time a situation and/or person aggravates you, make note of that. Then, once things have cooled down and your out of contact with what’s triggering you, you can start examining what the reason for your stress with this person or situation is. Think about what most annoys you about someone or something. And then start investigating, what of that “annoying” behavior are you denying yourself.
I’m not talking about starting to imitate bad behavior. Let’s go back to the example of anger: If I suppress my anger and somebody does express it and I get annoyed by that, I can try to see, what level of anger, if any at all, am I accepting in myself. Can I express anger? Every emotion is okay because it is our emotion and has to be accepted as such. It is more the question how you act upon it. You can learn to express anger in a very skillful and constructive way. But therefore you have to dare to express it. Otherwise, it will bother you for the rest of your life in your connection to the outside world and yourself. And I can tell you, that’s sometimes even more hurtful – when the anger you’re suppressing is boiling up and explodes with an all damaging rage towards yourself!
So take life, people, every moment that gives you this opportunity to be aggravated as a wonderful opportunity instead of a miserable moment you wish you never experienced. Because you don’t need to live in your own shadow! You can work your way up into the light! It is so so much more wonderful to be alive, with every inch more of being a whole human being!
If you need support in your process with working on your shadow – talk to me. I’d love to accompany you: http://lifewithmyself.com/talk-to-me
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