Own Your Own Shadow
Not a day goes by when I don’t have at least one moment of ego-shattering clarity where I am reminded of just how much of a human-condition-afflicted mess I and all humans are, despite our best attempts at hiding it. When the shutters open on your denial for that brief second during the day and you see yourself particularly, but also others around you in the naked light of the full-and-unadulterated truth it is truly a shocking discovery, each and every time. We are a seriously messed up species. And in my experience, having these momentary glimpses into our upset and alienation is definitely an unavoidable by-product of allowing these all-liberating and ameliorating, yet necessarily all-confronting and exposing explanations into your life. But, the answers were only going to come with the full-truth about ourselves, they were never going to come from more denial and sugar-coating and we all intuitively know that.
When not viewed in their proper context, these sorts of moments, when I see my imperfections clearly, have the potential to bring on crippling despair, but the truth is that thankfully we now have these understandings that explain the human condition and all the upset and dysfunction that flows from it, and brings compassion to all of us resigned adults! And not just compassion for our upset, but they offer freedom from it. So when I have these ‘rude awakenings’ I now know that I simply have to view the situation from a more macro, human-condition-defended position and say things to myself like: ‘Ah yes, that’s right, I am resigned. I am a mess, but it’s ok. It’s understandable. Upset is actually a glorious battle-scar from the most heroic battle to have ever taken place on the face of this earth. I have suffered under the torturous imposition of the human condition. It was inevitable that I would end up with a particular set of frailties. But I am fundamentally good! I don’t need to dwell on this, my job is to simply help get these understandings to the rest of the world in whatever way I can!’ (Well, words to that effect, anyway.)
The following passage by Jeremy Griffith from Section 1:1 of Freedom: Expanded Book 2 encapsulates the redemptive power of these understandings to bring wholeness to the human race:
“We can at last explain WHY we humans have not been ideally behaved; to use religious terms, we can explain the origin of ‘sin’. And what is so wonderful— in fact, SO wonderful it will TRANSFORM your life and the lives of all humans— is that the explanation is compassionate. It explains that there has been a good reason for why we humans have not been ideally behaved. It is an explanation that completely dignifies and redeems us. It reconciles the opposites of good and evil in our natures and in doing so makes us whole. The great psychoanalyst Carl Jung was forever saying that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ because he recognised that ONLY by finding understanding of the dark side of ourselves could we be made ‘whole’— and, as incredible a claim as it is, it is that all-liberating and all-reconciling and all-redeeming and all-healing— and thus all-TRANSFORMING— biological understanding of our imperfect human condition that will be presented here. That greatest of all days in our human journey of conscious thought and enquiry— in fact, the day we have lived in ‘hope and faith and trust’ would one day come— when biology would finally be able to explain the psychological origins of our species’ deeply troubled predicament or condition has now, and in the nick of time, arrived.” (Freedom: Expanded Book 2 Section 1:1)
One of the key concepts from the above passage is Jung’s ‘owning your own shadow’. Jung was the originator of the term ‘shadow’ in the field of psychology. Here is a brief description from him: ‘The Shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality... To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance’. (Carl Jung, CW9: AION: 14, accessed 4 Dec. 2012 at http://www.shadowdance.com/cgjung/cgjung.html)
I feel that this concept of the ‘shadow’ is so important to the transformation process. Without it I don’t believe you can make any real progress. You are forever ‘treading water’. You cannot escape any of the underlying guilt you will have. You cannot make peace with yourself. You cannot move on!
This other quote from Jung is so beautifully simple and logical: ‘We cannot change anything until we accept it’. (Carl Jung, accessed 4 Dec. 2012 at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/carljung101266.html)
Ok, so accepting your own ‘shadow-self’ through the ultimate of all understandings (that Jung did not have at his disposal) which we can do now, is a very handy thing. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, you will also struggle to accept and understand the ‘shadows’ of those other resigned adults around you! I just love what Jung has to say about this: ‘Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people’. (Carl Jung, accessed 4 Dec. 2012 at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/carljung114806.html)
Now I think we do need to be very mindful of the fact that everyone’s ‘shadow’ or ‘dark side’ will consist of a multitude of less-than-desirable aspects. (Some aspects, thankfully, we will never even be aware of.) So we need to treat this thing as a package deal! We simply own our ‘shadow’ in its entirety.
We must also keep in mind the bigger goal for our generation—the ‘conduit generation’. We do not need to fully self-repair; to somehow try and reverse the corruption meted out to us by the human condition. We simply need to ensure that this information gets into the hands of the next generation. Then, we will have done our job to the letter!
Imagine the future: the human condition is but a distant memory; a generation of humans emerge who are fully secure psychologically; we humans will be whole again; ... and the world will be truly FREE!