Last year I had the opportunity to read an article in my university about the work of psychologist Carl Jung called Encounter With The Shadow. I must admit that it was a small mistake since I was looking for a biography of Sigmund Freud and for my luck I ended up finding Jung. My readings and certain introspections I did, gave birth to this article.
We usually use thousands of metaphors to refer to our darkest aspect as: discover our demons, the dark night of the soul, alter ego, shadow, etc., but I like to refer to this as the great sack that we all drag. An invisible sack that accompanies us throughout life and in which we begin to throw, since our childhood, all those facets of our personality that displeased those around us and exercised some kind of influence in our lives. We do this for the simple reason to be able to continue being worthy of their love.
LIGHTS AND SHADOWS
Lights and shadows inhabit our interior. They are part of who we are, what we don’t want to be and what we may aspire to be. They are the struggle between what we recognize, what we avoid, what we admit and what we ignore or don’t want to see. And in this small, but costly balance, we try to spend our days without any of those parts dominating our lives. Although we try to hide it, the truth will tell us sooner or later that the balance between what we know and what we don’t admit, is difficult to achieve. So, in order to live with ourselves we have to accept a good dose of this following reality: we are made of lights and shadows, for which there will be parts of us that we will not accept.
The acceptance of our shadows may involve pain but also implies evolution, change and acceptance of our self. It implies, therefore, knowing oneself and developing a healthy self-esteem before life. Not everything is light, nor does the light always illuminates our life, the light sometimes blinds us from seeing the right path. And the shadows may sometimes give us the right answers.
BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN SHADOWS
Our shadows are the set of shameful, painful experiences, fears, frustrations or insecurities that lodge in the unconscious. The ‘shadow’ contains all the negative aspects of the personality that the “I” is not always in a position to assume and that, for the same reason, can stop the manifestation of our authentic way of being and feeling.
Selfishness, envy, evil, cowardice, jealousy, greed and many of our emotions and our fears are our shadows. Many times we become aware of them when they lead us to conflicts with others. On other occasions they express feelings of guilt or even unexplained depressions, reflecting an image in which we don’t recognize ourselves. We are even capable of projecting these shadows on others in order to not assume that these feelings, judgments or ideas belong to us. We are “programmed” since childhood to hide the failures, the desperation and the negative of our lives. And because we are human, we keep our shadows and light, inside us.
“MY LIGHTS ARE BLINDING ME”
The lights that is contained in us, that surrounds us and that illuminates us from the inside are all qualities like virtues, emotions, behaviors or desires that we like to show. They are the masks that we disguise ourselves with on each occasion as if they were our only and true identity.
We can choose to be pranksters, intelligent, understanding, sociable, timid or brave, we can choose what we want to show in front of the great social scenario. Currently, the lights of our personality make them shine more with the use of appearances in social networks. We live a second life in which the shadows not only hide, but we do as if they did not exist. What at first may seem like an advantage, a way of protecting ourselves from the miseries of our lives, actually becomes the epicenter of the expression of modern narcissism.
That’s why it’s so important to know our shadows, because they help us maintain inner balance. We are fallible, we feel jealousy, envy or guilt, but we also recompose ourselves. We are human and accept living reality and not a story, will help us develop a healthy self-esteem and live a better and fuller life. Don’t deny your shadows, accept them; don’t blind yourself with the lights, look for your inner balance.
When our strength discovers its own vulnerability and we realize that apart from the light we also have shadows, when we stop believing that the responsibility for all evils are abroad, when we are aware that the ability to do evil is also housed in some way inside us, we can make peace with our shadow and navigate safe from adversity and fatality.
Because when we maintain a correct relationship with the shadow, the unconscious ceases to be dangerous, as Jung said “the shadow is only dangerous when we don’t give it due attention”.
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1. Are you aware of your own shadows?
2. Have you ever lost your “inner balance” between lights and shadows?