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Me and My Shadow....

Updated on May 22, 2010

I have begun reading yet another book on shadow called "The Shadow Effect" by teachers Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and Debbie Ford. I have studied the shadow for a long time as I do believe we all have this deeply embedded archetype thriving in our unconscious psyche. Carl Jung, the brilliant psychologist described the shadow as that which holds our weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. He states that:

""Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." and that It may be (in part) one's link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind."

Ones' shadow comes out in various guises throughout their lifetimes. People with road rage come to mind as those enmeshed in shadowy behavior. People irritate us with their inability to "deliver: our expectations, which is really our own fault, as we should never place those expectations on another to begin with! We may find ourselves over- reacting also to a quality or characteristic in someone else that we need to examine in our own self. We can be sure that shadow work is never completely finished, as there are many part of our psyches that are untapped and that we are unaware of in our lives. Looking at ourselves and our part in something is difficult because we walk  fine line between self-blame and blaming another for our own condition. Clearly this is difficult, especially for people who choose not to peel off their own layers and identify their own issues.

We will choose to turn from those people to whom have similar qualities we unconsciously harbor in our own shadow. Their presence makes us uncomfortable, because we are looking at that part of ourselves that we deny. This projection or  looking at the parts that we disown, or deny within ourselves gets projected onto the "other" In other words, it's them, not us that has the issue. We will feel off center, uncomfortable and  can end up being highly critical of the other, as we do not wish ourselves to identify with this element.

Whatever we deem too negative to look at within ourselves however will be conveniently projected out into our surroundings. Our energy acts like a magnet to attract this and bring it to us so we can examine it, bit we don't, we are repulsed by it instead.the unconscious continues to being us this over and over again however, as it hooks this energy time after time, no matter how it looks at first glance. We know we see our flaws outwardly when we look into a mirror, the same thing exists in this mirror, we see what it is we "are" and are uncomfortable with it, and thus shun it again and again.

Polarization is also a concept of shadow. In our personal relationships, especially ones with our current partners, often we see this shadow dance play out in a back and forth manner. Have you ever seen people go to "extremes" in their relationships whereby one partner literally changes and assumes what the other partner had given up? Case in point: my partner was  morning person who loved to get up early each day, and now that I get up early each day he has flipped to my old position of being a night owl. Polar opposites!

Take some time to notice extremes between yourself and others and exactly where you are polarized — one person is doing one extreme and you’re doing the other extreme. If we continue to live out of balance we become more polarized and have more difficulty in our relationship. Jung posits that the psyche is always striving for wholeness and if we can take our cues from nature we will see that wholeness is balance.

Finally, Jung states the following well meaning advice for us all to recognize and work through in our lives:

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
Dr. Carl G. Jung

Instead of running from that which we deem is unsavory or hidden within us, we need to whip out the mirror and take a good hard look at ourselves. It is easy not to like this part of us, as it is not aligned with what our personalities want others to see, but it is necessary to clean out the closets once in awhile, as having too much in there makes it hard for anything new to be seen.

Blessings on your journey.



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    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thanks to both~

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thanks to both~

    • profile image

      MaryRenee 8 years ago

      Aley: This is a fantastic hub, loved it! :)

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 8 years ago from New Mexico

      Oh, Aley, I so love your topics! When I made the decision to look at people I couldn't stand as projections of what I hated about myself, well, let's just say, it ain't easy but worth it! Not that it solved all my problems or filled me with love and empathy for the whole human race--but it certainly helped me to understand myself.

      Such an interesting and important topic!

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Sounds like a good read!

    • profile image

      Sierra Greer 8 years ago

      I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I recommend a fiction novel I have on my shelf by Jose Saramago called The Double. It's a tale about a man who decides to pursue his double and learns about identity and individuality.


    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      thanks Lorlie...I am working on mine as usual....!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      In the lifelong process of individuation, it's a tall order to embrace our shadow. But as Jung points out, that very embrace can lead to its weakening!

      Beautifully written, Aley!

    • profile image

      Tycameron 8 years ago

      i have no friends and i need a friend will you be my friend plz

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      haha Suny...perhaps I am being too obvious? Whatever you read into it, it is something we all need to watch for!

      Thanks Nellieanna..perhaps it is time for everyone to out their shadow side, and for some it might be the good side of themselves!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 8 years ago from TEXAS

      This is truly excellent, Aley! Well explained and presented. It's somewhat like my theory of "subjective reality" too. We project our only real source of perceiving onto all that is external to us. As you say - our flaws are transferred to "them" by this process. We really truly CANNOT 'see' into another person's being, but we "mind read" what is actually in our own minds and attribute it to theirs.

      Oddly enough - even seeing others as good is also a self-projection! And many times, especially in the case of impressionable young folks, what we project as "them" TO them is what they accept as their personnas and fulfill - whether it is negative or positive.

      We have such similar "building materials' - our human DNA, our specialized sensory organs, etc. - it is not difficult for one individual to greatly influence and change another - and for certain, to accept his/her own projection of others as gospel truth!

      Polarization is another phenomenon which concerns me - as I mentioned in my comments to your other hub just now about the political idiocy going on in my state! It's a very dangerous tendency - it separates whole peoples within countries and certainly within international scenarios.

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 8 years ago

      This has many hidden messages attached,i could find just one thats don't let your arrogance show up,is that right professor Aley.


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