Using Shadow Psychology To Become Whole
As long as your shadow remains in darkness, it will remain in control of you. In order to gain control we have to consciously integrate our shadow side into something we accept as a part of us. This is the ultimate crux at the heart of shadow psychology.
Those who cannot admit or even see their own faults are stuck with an incredibly rigid, static self-concept that they, however consciously or unconsciously, equate with perfection. Have you ever noticed how these types seem to have the hardest time in life? Always getting offended, always going off on something or other
Without the humility the knowledge of our shadow side grants us, the character traits left in our dark sides will likely show up sooner or later, and opposed to the creative power that knowing our shadow side grants us, the form these traits take will be of a negative,;sabotaging and destructive nature.
This is what happens when we are without the wisdom to see and accept our full, vulnerable, irrational, light-and-dark-as-one state of true humanness a;reality which understands that perfection is actually imperfection itself, or rather, on-going, ever-lasting states of imperfection which could otherwise be named contrast or relativity that allow us, in our acknowledgement of them, the ability to decide what to;leave behind, and where we want to go.
To put it another way:
- When we are unconscious of our own shadow, we fight AGAINST;.
1) Look for it Use Mindfulness.
Which leads to the next point:
Exercise #1: Watch Your Emotional Reactions
Remember that the shadow is elusive; it hides behind us. Our defense mechanisms are designed to keep our shadows repressed and out of view.
The more you;pay attention to your behavior and emotions, the better chances you have of catching your shadow in the act.
We tend to project our disowned parts onto other people.
One of the best ways to identify your shadow is to pay attention to your emotional reactions toward other people.
Sure, your colleagues might be aggressive, arrogant, inconsiderate, or impatient, but if you dont have those same qualities within you, you wont have a strong reaction to their behavior.
If youre paying close attention, you can train yourself to notice your shadow when you witness strong negative emotional responses to others.
As Jung is often quoted saying:
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
But we rarely have time to work with those emotions on the spot.
At the end of the day, its helpful to take five or ten minutes to reflect on your interactions with others and your related reactions.
Whatever bothers you in another is likely a disowned part within yourself.
Get to know that part, accept it, make it a part of you, and next time, it may not evoke a strong emotional charge when you observe it in another.
Focus on what and who evokes an emotional charge in you. It doesnt matter what the emotion is; its a clue you are denying something within you.
Differences Between Shadowing And Blocking
We should not confuse shadowing with a similar but not identical phenomenon, blocking effect.
This also consists of a classical conditioning phenomenon , and it is that a conditioned stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus in a first phase, and in a second phase both the EC1 and a new conditioned stimulus are paired with the EI; all of this causes the learning of EC2 to be impeded.
In other words, the conditioning of a first CE makes it difficult to learn a second CE later on.
Thus, we see that both in the shadowing and in the blocking, one stimulus makes another lose associative power , although for different reasons .
- Pérez, V., Guitérrez, M., Gracía, A., and Gómez, J.. Basic psychological processes: a functional analysis. Madrid : UNED.
- Domjan, M. , Principles of Learning and Behaviour, Madrid, Spain: Thomson.
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Making The Journey To The Dark Side
Our egos and shadows are both very complex on their own. In shadow psychology, Jung points out multiple layers that make up the shadow self. His theory interprets the outermost layers as containing meaningful flow and manifestations of direct experiences. These layers unconsciously embed themselves in our memory and are then repressed over time.
Underneath these first layers our personal layers lie what what Jung came to call the archetypes of human experience. These deeper, wider levels make up the;collective unconscious;that psychically unite all of our potential personas, holding within them the base instincts and driving forces of primal man and woman, attained over our long course of evolution.;
While the shadow itself is an archetype, it is also the unique combination of different overlapping elements of the collective consciousness, bubbling up to join with the top-level personal layers to create in each of us a completely individual dark side.;
Yet unlike the shadow that the sun casts on the ground, our dark sides are more akin to the dark side of the moon never visible, to ourselves or others. Of course theyre not. Being everything that we refuse to recognize in ourselves, if we saw them, they would no longer be dark.
Yet the moon is a sphere, and were we to traverse its entire circumference, we would know the wholeness of it, experientially.
~ Jung, Psychology & Religion
Shadow Work Essential To A Fully
If we just focus on the good sides of the life that which feels light, joyful, easy, and happy life will feel very one-sided and lacking in depth. Classic shadow signs are anger, blame, laziness, but can also be insecurity, co-dependency, or even independence. Life is a multifaceted experience that desires to be experienced from all angles to be understood and lived fully; the good, the bad, the light, the dark, the pretty, the ugly, and all the grey areas in between. If you continue to bury your shadows, you may feel fractured and compartmentalised. You may never actually move past them to see what else life has to offer.
If You Want To Save The World Tend To Your Shadow Self
If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.
Carl Jung,;Psychology and Religion
While shadow work is a rewarding way to cultivate a deep and intimate understanding of ourselves, and thus evolve as individuals, the truth is that the world needs us to embark on this journey sooner rather than later. The collective shadow houses societys basest impulses: those of greed, hatred, and violence. If one person acting on these impulses can do a lot of harm to others, what happens when we act on them as a collective?
We hate and fear what we dont understand, prompting us to pursue violence against people rather than seek diplomatic solutions with one another. We project our own worst qualities onto our enemies to justify the violence against them. We hoard resources, ignore the suffering of others, and continue the patterns of behavior that pollute the world we all call home.
Shadow Psychology In Practice
Often those who follow Jungian psychology will help a client understand different ways they are trying to keep unconscious thoughts at bay. These may include using projection to place their unwanted thoughts or feelings onto another person when they begin to see themselves embodying characteristics that they dislike.
There are many other different patterns that Jung calls archetypes that he believed originated in the unconscious mind but begin to enter consciousness as thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. He also believed these archetypes are all part of the collective unconscious, or that they are something that all human beings share with one;another. Jungian psychologists will use archetype theory and shadow theory to help clients understand and normalize some of their negative associations with themselves. They will explain that we all experience times when our unconscious mind tries to infiltrate our conscious mind and cause us to experience distress.
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How To Know Your Shadow
The shadow is usually one of the first things we face when we start attending therapy. The creation of a safe space where we can talk to someone who isnt personally invested in our life means we find ourselves saying things we didnt even know we think and felt.
Of course looking at what you are constantly blaming others for tends to be a direct route to your shadow. What are the things you like least in other people? Does that characteristic exist within you, too? Can you think of an example, even, of when you did something similar?
Its important when working to recognise and understand your shadow side you do not over-identify with it. If you are going through a period of low self-esteem or depression, for example, its not the time to indulge in shadow work because you are not in the headspace to recognise your strengths, too. This is why it can be wise to do shadow work with proper support in place.
Interview With A Psychologist
Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD of www.mybetternursinghome.com was nice enough to visit with us about her profession as a professional psychologist.
What do you do for a living?
How would you describe what you do?
I talk with the residents to try to help them cope with the challenges that theyre facing and adjust to the nursing home environment. I work with the staff to provide the best care for the residents. I also help the families help their loved ones adjust to the nursing home as well and cope with any challenges working with the staff members and the nursing home administration.
What does you work entail?
I go to a nursing home, Im only in one nursing home right now, though at times I have been in more than one. I work as part of the team, so I might attend a morning report, and then I have a roster of residents that I see and I generally meet with them in their rooms. Then I talk with the staff about them.
Being a psychologist is a very rewarding profession. I can always say I am doing good in the world and thats important to me.
Whats a typical workweek for you?
How did you get started?
What do you like about what you do?
Is there anything you dislike at all about your job?
How do you make money or how are you compensated?
How much money do you make as a psychologist?
How much money do you make starting out?
What is the most rewarding?
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What Is Your Ego
While there are many different theories regarding ego, in this case were going use the more contemporary and easy to understand concept of your sense of self.
Each of us develops our sense of self based off of a combination of factors: biology, environment, personality traits, preferences and proclivities, and, when taken as a whole, every experience weve ever had. All of the information weve gathered through our lives interprets and influences how we view the world including how we view ourselves.
To get an idea of this, all you have to do is ask yourself one question: Who am I?;
Whatever you think in response to that is your conscious ego self, known in Jungian psychology as the persona ,;and it expresses itself as self-esteem the thoughts regarding your importance and role in or around your respective culture.
Think about filling out a bio or an application youll most likely strive to put your best foot forward, maybe even exaggerate at times to amp yourself up and look more desirable. This is generally what all of us do with our personas in everyday life.;
Yet its tricky, as it can go both ways. Even thoughts such as Im a misfit or society is screwed and Im not going to conform are still a form of self-esteem, and still an act of self-definition and personification.;
All of this is ego what is acceptable to us in our ideas of ourselves.
~ Jung, The Philosophical Tree
What Is Shadow Psychology
Carl Jung was a famous psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, and one of the founders of modern-day psychology. He developed theories about why we think and feel the way we do. One of his major philosophies involves the meaning of the unconscious parts of the human personality. Jung and fellow theorist Sigmund Freud had many ideas about the unconscious mind and how it affects our consciousness and mental health in general. Their theories, while similar, usually diverged around the idea of the unconscious mind.
Jung often used the term the shadow to refer to the unconscious mind, or the unknown dark side of our personality, due to the primitive, negative, socially or religiously depreciated human emotions and impulses that we all have naturally.
A psychologist who follows the teaching of Jung may help a person who is struggling with mental health issues by encouraging them to dig deep into the thoughts they try to repress; thoughts that are in their shadow mind. Shadow psychology is the study and practice of the mind and behavior where various different kinds of therapy can help a person to unlock things that they may be hiding from themselves.
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Your Shadow Self What It Is And How It Can Help You
What is the shadow self according to psychology?
The shadow is the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you dont want to admit to having.
It is at first an unconscious side.;It is only through effort to become self-aware that we recognise our shadow.
Although many infer the shadow is negative, this is not really true. The Shadow is rather what you yourself perceive as dark and weak about yourself, and therefore needing to be hidden and denied. But this depends on your own perspective on life, and your levels of self-esteem.
So while for one person their shadow might just contain such classic elements assadness, rage, laziness, and cruelty, you might also hide your personal power, your independence, or your emotional sensitivity.
How To Do Shadow Work
So, how do you actually do shadow work? As Caraballo and Swart explain, it’s all about bringing the unconscious mind to our conscious awareness. “This is something psychoanalytic theorists prized as important to maintaining psychological health,” Caraballo tells mbg.
It’s typically done with a “Socratic approach” of questioning and exploration. This entails asking objective questions that elicit critical thinking and a reexamination of old stories and beliefs we hold about ourselves.
“The idea is that a more objective entity can help provide an interpretive mirror to the parts of ourselves we have a difficult time seeing and accepting,” Caraballo says.
And while it is often work done with the help of a mental health professional, you can begin to explore your shadow solo too, by examining your thoughts, feelings, and assumptions. Below, you’ll find some prompts to help you do so.
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Ignore The Shadow At Your Own Peril
The ancient Greeks understood the need to honor all of the parts of the psyche. For them, these parts were worshiped as autonomous gods and goddesses.
The Greeks knew a god or goddess you ignored became the one who turned against you and destroyed you.
Any part we disown within us turns against us. The personal shadow represents a collection of these disowned parts.
So heres the problem: The shadow can operate on its own without our full awareness. Its as if our conscious self goes on autopilot while the;unconscious assumes control.Bargh, J. A., & Morsella, E. . The Unconscious Mind. Perspectives on psychological science: a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 3, 7379. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00064.x
We do things we wouldnt voluntarily do and later regret . We say things we wouldnt say. Our facial reactions express emotions we dont consciously feel.
Remaining unconscious of the shadow hurts our relationships with our spouses, family, and friends, and it will impact our professional relationships as well as our leadership abilities.
Do you remember Robert Louis Stevensons;Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Dr. Jekyll was a respectable gentleman who took a potion to separate out his darker impulses to create a creature free of conscience named Mr. Hyde .
Dr. Jekyll could not control the actions of his darker half, leading him to commit unscrupulous acts, including murder.
Exercise #4: Get To Know The Shadow Archetypes
Perhaps the best way to get to know your shadow is to familiarize yourself with the work of neo-Jungian Robert Moore.
Moore suggests that the four primary archetypes of the psyche are the King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover.
Each archetype;possesses qualities we define as the best attributes of mature adulthood.
But for each constructive archetype, there is a destructive shadow.
And not just one shadow, but two: an active side and passive side .
For example, the shadows of the King is the Tyrant and the Weakling. The shadows of the Warrior are the Sadist and Masochist.
Getting to know these bipolar shadows makes it easier to identify their thoughts and behavioral patterns within yourself.
I highly recommend Moore and Gillettes King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. Its one of the most important books on psychology Ive ever read.
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