August 9, 2012

I have had a few students recently say that the issues they see in the world are “not them” and that they “would never do that.” I want to do a two part blog post on this concept by relating it to the concept of the shadow.

Let me give you a simple definition of what the Shadow is. The Shadow is all that you think isnot you. See, once you have fully defined who and what you are, by the very nature of the assumption of creation[1], all that you are notalso comes into existence. That existence is defined in the form of the Shadow. It’s the not- me. It is the qualities that we deny in ourselves. The Shadow arrives or becomes an issue when a person is purely persona-focused or ego-driven.

The Shadow is everything that we do not accept as being in the self. “I would not do that. That is not me. I am not that way.” In my book about the conscious mind, Find Your Purpose, Master Your Path, I used an example of the dad who yells at his kids after a frustrating day at work, then blames them for his behavior rather than recognizing his own short fuse. Based on Jung’s Shadow concept, odds are that same person is a big advocate for treating children with respect or maybe is adamantly against violence. “I am totally against unkind behavior. That is not me.”

Perception is Projection

In this case, the man has to make excuses for his not-me behavior when he becomes his Shadow, the “mean” self that he can’t cop to. It becomes a natural act of projection. “It’s not me, so it must be those darn kids who need disciplining!”

The Shadow begins to appear when we have confined ourselves into the box that is the ego or the person we show to the world. Prior to meeting our Shadow, life is very one-dimensional. “I’m a banker.” “I’m a trainer.” “I’m a husband.” “I’m a wife.” That’s a very one-dimensional life.

Do you remember when your role or title was all important? People would ask, “What do you do?” “I run The Empowerment Partnership. I’m the President of the company.” Very one-dimensional. This is what I do. This is who I am.

As we develop and define our own ego, we can also become one-dimensional emotionally. “I’m very responsible.” “I’m open-minded.” “I’m loving.” Really?Always?

You’re More Than That

Deep down inside, we know life is more than that. Deep down inside, we realize that we are more than just that one-dimensional living. And that’s really when the Shadow begins to appear. The Shadow begins to show itself.

I love a quote I saw from Amy Grant: “Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real.”

The ego casts the Shadow. And just as you don’t want to get rid of the ego because the ego has an important purpose, the idea is not to get rid of your Shadow. The Shadow has an important purpose too. Any book that says the Shadow is evil, dirty or nasty and should be eliminated has been written by someone who is projecting it out because it’s something they have repressed. They’re still at the “It’s not me” stage.

Part 2 is coming next week.

Mahalo,
Matt