Hey, welcome guys and gals. What will be discussed today is the topic of the concept of Shadow, coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. In this article, you will learn about identifying your dark side, come to peace with it, implementing it in your daily life, and much more. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
What is the Shadow?
According to Carl Jung, the Shadow is the unconscious side of our personality which is the collection of attributes we — or the society — labels as unacceptable, unlikable, dark, off-putting, and so on. You have all these aspects that make you look like a bad person, and we naturally incline to avoid them altogether. So what do we do? we keep them caged deep within us.
These disliked aspects are repressed into our unconscious mind — which creates the Shadow; everything that is composed of the evilest and darkest thoughts, beliefs, and ideas.
This is what Carl Jung had to say about the nature of the Shadow:
“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature.”
Should you deny its existence or avoid it altogether, the Shadow or your inner Monster will grow bigger and more evil. You do not want that. The worst atrocities committed in history were originated from the lack of control over the Shadow from the collective standpoint; wars, mass murders, torture, rape, you name it.
How to address the Shadow?
First of all, in order to proceed in the liberation of the Shadow; there are three fundamentals to follow:
- Being Aware of Projections
Understand the first and most important thing: you are capable of extreme evil; given the right opportunity, you can develop dangerous bloodthirst and willingly create chaos, destruction, and murder.
We all possess a primitive, instinctive, and savage side; like animals mauling each other with a bloody outcome. Some of us thrive in mindless violence and causing chaos. This is a very real fact: human evil exists, not only in criminals and psychopaths — everyone can be a monster.
When the knowledge of this fact has gotten through your head, then you can proceed; not fight, not reason with the shadow, but learn to use it to your favor.
“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.”
Taking a great example: who has seen Breaking Bad? The protagonist, Walter White is a regular chemistry teacher. He has a downward spiral after being diagnosed with lung cancer and becomes the most ruthless crime lord in a short time span. He goes on to do things that he never thought was capable of — drug trafficking, threatening people, verbal abuse, violent assaults, and murder. Breaking Bad is a great example of an ordinary man who, when hit by disaster, allows his own Shadow to emerge. Not to mention, the man has a lot of resentment, particularly because of his inability to communicate properly in his relationships. We get to witness the actions and the consequences that follow.
2. Being Aware of Projections
Carl Jung called this his shadow work: Projection. By definition, an automatic process whereby contents of one’s own unconscious are perceived to be in others.
The favorite tool of the unconscious to manifest itself is Psychological Projection. It is also the most “easy” way to take notice of the Shadow. Basically, when you watch or interact with a person, there are going to be certain aspects we don’t like about them, it is highly likely you possess the same quality.
When you complain that your friend is being selfish, it is quite possible that you are that way as well. So, be aware of this each time you find someone annoying or repulsive. What you can do: take note each time you dislike someone else’s behavior, and contemplate — Am I the same way? Does this person’s behavior reflect me?
3. Self Talk
Don’t fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names and talk about the burns on their fingers and scratches on their ankles. Some of them are very nice.
Take time off to be introspective and pay attention to your past demons. Really concentrate on your weaknesses and flaws in any possible way that you’ll get offended when you are criticized; you must own your flaws. Try journaling your thoughts. When you are humble about your weaknesses, no situation or words will get through you, therefore, you’ll develop maturity.
Through Self-Reflection, you come to understand that there are no external factors that will hurt you; it is your emotions that put the positive or negative labels on the perceived situation.
Freeing the Inner Monster
It’s come that time where all the energy inside of you can be liberated, expended, manifested, free to roam around the world, and so on. But what now? Am I going to murder people, burn my own house, and cause destruction?
Hold on, buddy. Don’t get too excited, alright? As much as your Shadow is totally capable of committing the aforementioned acts of violence; you, having the upper hand, can control its angst and redirect this focus toward good. Whilst your monster is to be liberated, it is also to be tamed. So, what are the ways one can use one inner monster for a greater purpose? (One that doesn’t involve burning the world and dancing over flaming corpses)
1. Stand up for your rights
One, if not the most useful asset when it comes to your integrity is to have successfully incorporated the Shadow in your regular life. When you feel threatened, or someone violates your personal values; having done previous Shadow work will enable you the courage to be aggressive and or assertive. Therefore, able to establish boundaries to external situations or counterattack people’s toxic behavior.
For the Shadow to become an ally, can help you out in stressful situations, such as a verbal dispute, or someone trying to control you. Ever since you are aware of the Shadow’s strength, power, the capability of evil, and any other negative quality that comes to your mind, you can choose to tread carefully, let your Inner Monster exteriorize itself, and assert some dominance over some situation — with full knowledge of what you are doing — will help you a achieve what you want, and develop some self-respect along the way.
The Shadow can become your friend, and if you let it help you, then you can find the courage to get over some extremely difficult situation and not become a pushover.
2. Engage in Creative Expression or Physical Exercise
After building up some of that rage and aggression characteristic of the Inner Monster, it will come the time which you engage in some physical or artistic way of liberating that energy and redirecting it to some form of creation.
Is it useful to use your Shadow in your daily encounters, situations, and problems that come your way? Of course! It will usually depend on what situation you are facing, but helpful nonetheless. So, to maintain some level of recreation in the topic, bring out the Shadow in your creations, hobbies, or workouts.
That means allowing the Shadow to exteriorize itself and giving it freedom (under your control, of course) to beat the crap out of some punching bag, write a story, carve something out of wood, dance to some electronic music, and so on.
What Carl Jung had to say about the Shadow is that while liberating it can almost signify self-sabotaging our own lives, however, it is also what frees us from our negative perceptions, beliefs, insecurities, weaknesses, and so on. While the Shadow holds the crown to perhaps the most dangerous side of our personality, you can learn to not fear it, nor fight against it — using it with a growth mindset and becoming better individuals with more knowledge of themselves. Taking it to our devotion, or to some physical activity; find ways to let your Shadow come out every once in a while and you’ll set the right balance in your Self.
You know when does the Shadow becomes really dangerous? (And I mean it, seriously)
When people become a group, and the group shares one single ideology: the individuals in the group are no longer free-thinking but succumb to group-think. It is the meeting of many Personal Shadows to conform one single entity: The Collective Unconscious.
I’ll talk about this topic in the future. So without more to say, thank you for reading, I hope it helped you out, see you next post.