Something about the shadow
On a sunny day, everyone sees their shadow, there is nothing to be afraid of, it is just an obvious part of our reality. But when it’s almost dark and we only have a little light, the shadows can really look scary, then they have the power to trigger different emotions, reactions and behaviors within us. It is similar with our individual Shadow. The less it is illuminated by the light of our consciousness, the more frightening it is. According to Jung’s theory, we are divided into the so-called Ego and the Shadow of the ego. Ego is the center of our personality. This is our concept of ourselves within which we accumulate everything we want to consciously identify with. And in this process of selecting, we create our Shadow, because in order to make a selection, we have to reject something. So the shadow is the part of the unconscious where we store everything we reject, with which we do not want to identify. In other words, the Shadow is a repressed, negative personality, the sum of the content that has been rejected by the ego. Let’s say these are things swept under the rug to make the room appear neat and tidy. Unfortunately, these things do not disappear from under the carpet, they accumulate under the threshold of our consciousness and have their own mass, charge, energy. This is why shaking the Shadow triggers very strong reactions. It is worth mentioning that the Shadow activates in sudden, difficult, borderline situations – under the influence of high stress, unpredictable circumstances. Also under the influence of stimulants – wherever the ego control weakens, the Shadow reveals itself. Then we say to ourselves – “I don’t know what happened to me, something has possessed me, that wasn’t like me”. On a daily basis, sometimes we can also recognize our Shadow in thoughts and desires that have nothing to do with the person with whom we identify. These are dark thoughts, full of hatred, anger, resentment, violence, desires, which are very uncomfortable, so we quickly run away from them, suppress them, tell ourselves that we must not think that. We start to form defense mechanisms and we run as far away from it as possible. And Shadow grows quietly. How to recognize the Shadow in practice? Below are some suggestions.1. The first way to identify your Shadow in practice is to look at your judgment of other people. Unconsciousness literally projecting our Shadow to other people as on a big screen. The more you cut yourself off from someone, the easier it will be for you to project something onto this person you don’t like about yourself. So you are just hiding from your Shadow, pushing it into the unconscious and throwing it over to another person or to something outside of you. It is easy to recognize, because it is always associated with quite a large emotional charge. You wouldn’t be so pissed off about something if it wasn’t related to you in some way. That is why it is worth following your sharp reactions to other people, to how they behave, what they are. This is the direct manifestation of Your Shadow. There is nothing wrong with the projection itself, as long as you are aware that you are doing it and that the content of your projection is really about you most often. When you start looking at it, you will likely discover that your strong emotions in this situation have something to do with some old scenarios, beliefs, stories, ideas and thoughts. Something has awakened in you and this something has nothing to do with objective reality. How does it work in practice? Imagine that you are at some training and there is a person who annoys you terribly. She is loud, insolent, smart and you think that she is acting arrogant. In a word – drama. Meanwhile, when you are aware of your judgments and the projection mechanism, you will know that this person reflects to you that part of you that you are not aware of, that you have renounced. Maybe you would also like to be so bold? Maybe you think you lack confidence, but are actually hiding it in the Shadow? Or imagine that you keep accusing your partner of being stubborn and not listening to you. If it repeats itself, take a look at yourself, maybe you are projecting on it exactly what you do yourself? Maybe you don’t listen to it yourself and are so stubborn? It may also be that you admire some person’s qualities. If so, it is a sign that it would be good to look at whether you really do not have such qualities within you or just do not have access to them. The projection is very comfortable, because thanks to it we do not have to look under our “carpet”, we can shift our darker side to others, but it also means that we are not aware of some resources.2. The second thing we can tell if our Shadow has been activated is reactivity.Reactivity is about responding to what is happening here and now in a very intense way, but not because the present situation requires it, but because it reminds you of something. It reminds you of the past, so when you are reactive you simply react to the past – for example, to your mother, brother, sister, father. You do this even though the person you are talking to has nothing to do with them, they just activated some kind of reaction pattern in you. For example, your partner gives you some loose observation and you react in a furious way. And the other person completely does not understand what is happening to you, because from her/his perspective it looks like you would be “shooting a fly with a cannon”. But to you your reaction seems adequate, to you this reaction makes sense. Only later you do come to the conclusion that this was an exaggeration after all. You react like an automaton because you have no idea what is driving you, you don’t know anything about your Shadow – what patterns, emotions and triggers activate your reactivity, you are not aware of it. And reactivity is relatively easy to recognize. For example, if you are attentive, you will know it by hearing yourself say similar words in a similar situation. You can also recognize it by the fact that you are very attached to the fact that you are 100% right in a given situation, there is no other option for you, you are right and that’s it. In addition, you may also find that you have a complete lack of empathy for the person you are talking to. You will also recognize reactivity by the fact that you do not feel a little irritated because someone told you something, rather you are immediately overcome by a wild frenzy.3. The signal that the Shadow is working in your life are also repeated situations, for example patterns in relationships, constant selection of similar partners and sabotage of good relationships. In short, it’s about making the same “mistakes” over and over again. If so, it is a signal that our conditioning is leading and we completely do not know what is going on. And we still have something like groundhog day – we keep going through the same situations and getting the same results. Either we choose the same type of partner or we spoil everything with our approach. And even though we don’t want to do that, we somehow end up in the same place. And it will be so until we look at what has been suppressed in relation to our relationships, maybe closeness, sexuality, fear – who knows what we will see when we start looking at it.4. Another sign that the Shadow is active in our lives is our excessive attachment to all that is positive. So in short, we have a negative attitude towards our negativity, even though we are generally positive. Unfortunately, in order to be able to keep these appearances and our reality in a positive frame, we cannot allow ourselves to perceive different things, or feel them, experience them or think about them. We cut off anything we think is negative, including emotions that don’t fit in with our positive world. We suppress them, pretend they’re not there. And the only thing that we achieve in this way, apart from appearances, is that our Shadow is becoming more and more powerful.5. We can also see a shadow in our life through introspection. All you need is a few simple questions to ask yourself and then write down the answer – what parts of myself do I not accept? What would I like to get rid of? Which parts of me do I judge most harshly? When do I react most strongly to what someone says to me? What are the topics, manner of speaking, tone and what is it about? What parts of myself am I afraid of? What did my parents disapprove of in me? If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do with my life? These questions help to discover resources that we are not aware of. To increase your Shadow awareness, you can also list all the things with which you identify most strongly – with what groups of people, with what interests and traits. Then write down what you consider to be the opposite. Let’s say you identify with women of science, wise, intelligent and you look down on those who are interested in makeup or fashion. Try to see the opposite pole.I think these are the most important suggestions our Shadow shows us. But the first step to be able to observe your Shadow at all is to acknowledge its existence within us. It is about recognizing the simple truth that man is as “good” as “bad”, is light and dark, order and chaos. And it’s not about becoming perfect, but more about striving for authenticity and being just human beings. And the road to that leads in the middle – it’s about standing between light and dark and experiencing full humanity. For this you have to face the dragon, but not to defeat it or let it eat you, just to get to know it. Otherwise our development will be apparent.