“The enlargement of the light side of consciousness has the necessary consequence that the part of the psyche which is less light and less capable of consciousness is thrown into darkness to such an extent that sooner or later a rift occurs in the psychic system. At first, this is not recognized as such and is therefore projected - i.e. it appears as a religious projection, in the form of a split between the powers of Light and Darkness.”
When you think about your shadow, at least in my case, I tend to think about this dark, but inherently cool part about myself, you know, kind of like the devil. Evil, but powerful. I tend to think that if I could just integrate it, I’d be more powerful, in a sense.
But no. The shadow is not this cool part about yourself. In fact, it’s all the opposite. The shadow is comprised of all the things that you’ve repressed and that you think are too shameful and disgusting for the world to see. It’s your shame of poverty and your social status. It is the jealousy you feel about your friends and brothers for having more money than you or being more successful. It is your cowardice and your frustrated sex life. It is all your fears and shames combined, as well as your anger and hate.
I’m telling you, it is not nice stuff.
We all have a shadow because we all have those feelings, we are all human all too human.
Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.
Carl Gustav Jung
There are two ways you can go about your shadow, integrating it, or denying it.
Let’s talk about denial first.
When you deny your shadow, something far more common, you oppress a part of yourself, and stuff it under the rug, thinking that it will stay there forever, but it doesn’t.
If you didn’t watched Breaking Bad, I invite you to watch it, it is the perfect example of shadow denial. In the story, there’s this guy named Walter White. He is a frustrated, overqualified, high school teacher. The guy wouldn’t hurt a fly. You can see that no one in his life respects him either. He’s the classical nice guy.
But then he gets diagnosed with cancer and everything changes.
He turns into Heisenberg, a drug lord kingpin of the underworld. Slowly, he begins to make a name for himself in the streets. And ends up being the total opposite of what you see at the beginning of the series.
What’s great about this series is how you can see the radical change that the character undergoes. Slowly, he becomes the shadow, he embodies it, or it embodies him. He justifies his actions and change by telling himself that all that he’s doing is for the financial welfare of his family after he dies. But you can see that it is clearly not that. His repressed shadow was hidden under the rug for so much, that when he was told he was going to die, it functioned as a catalyst for the shadow to come out and take charge.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.”
But did you notice in which ways it took charge? Walter White’s shadow was comprised of fear, and shame for the lack of respect in his life, comprised of cowardice. But when it took charge, it became a criminal, far from coward, embarking in dangerous, extremely dangerous situations, not for good, but definitely powerful in nature.
There is a lot of power in the dark side.
Is there any way to embrace this power?
Yes indeed, and for doing so, you need to integrate your shadow.
Integrating your Shadow
“This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.”
Sounds too simple to be truth. But it is. But it being simple does not mean that it is easy. I mentioned a couple shadow composing examples above. The shame, the fear, the cowardice.
“This confrontation is the first test of courage on the inner way, a test sufficient to frighten off most people, for the meeting with ourselves belongs to the more unpleasant things that can be avoided so long as we can project everything negative into the environment. But if we are able to see our own shadow and can bear knowing about it, then a small part of the problem has already been solved: we have at least brought up the personal unconscious. The shadow is a living part of the personality and therefore wants to live with it in some form. It cannot be argued out of existence or rationalized into harmlessness. This problem is exceedingly difficult, because it not only challenges the whole man, but reminds him at the same time of his helplessness and ineffectuality.”
I think about myself, and I can relate with Walter White in a lot of ways. I try to be good. I shower every day and take care of myself so as to present a great image to the people around me. I help whenever I can, and you know, I try to be good.
I stopped drinking as well. And this whole shadow think got me thinking about repression. You see, when you drink, you uninhibit yourself and you let parts of your shadow come out and play. Which is cheating of course in a way, because mostly you do it unconsciously and you don’t really integrate those parts.
Embracing your shadow in sobriety is hard. The shadow, has its wishes and ambitions, I’d say even stronger ones than your persona, as they are almost purely emotional. So how can you use all this raw power, in a way that is beneficial for the totality of your being?
That is the question.
The first step is accepting your dirty laundry, and letting it out bit by bit. Us men, we tend to hide our desire for women in general, for example. We are shitless scared of rejection. That’s a part, for example that needs to come out. You need to accept your fears, and accept the shame that comes from rejection. Hard work, but it is the embracement of the negative, of the shame, that ultimately sets you free.
“In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon. Also, he is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if once he saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain”. He alone has a genuine claim to self-confidence, for he has faced the dark ground of his self and thereby has gained himself. This experience gives some faith and trust, the pistis in the ability of the self to sustain him, for everything that menaced him from inside he has made his own. He has acquired the right to believe that he will be able to overcome all future threats by the same means. He has arrived at an inner certainty which makes him capable of self-reliance.”
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