These are some thoughts about the nature of our Shadow Self from early 2007:
When you open up your heart some more, the light of consciousness hits the shadows in the subconscious mind and you can see so much more clearly what heaps of rubbish have been collected there in the dark over the years, over the decades, over the centuries even... The Shadow is in Jungian terms the part of you that contains denied feelings and thoughts. It may take ages to clear up. And meanwhile you have to struggle with all the negative feelings not only about yourself, but also about the other people who act as your mirror, and about the world in it's sad, sad state of misery and chaos. I am sure that out of the chaos comes new order, that is I believe that old physical matter and the more abstract energies are being transformed creatively into new forms, and that that is the divine order of things. Still...
I'm struggling to resolve a conflict between loyalty and compassion towards another human being and a suspiscion that I will never reach a state of equanimity if I continue to receive criticism from this person. Time and time again I have to brace myself and pick myself up and remind myself that I am not as bad a person as I am being told that I am. Mindgames and a weird manipulative way of twisting things around has become a part of my life, and I never thought it would. When someone close to you is dragging you in the mud, should you then cheer and say "YES! I get to work on my shadows now!", or should you say "NO, I deserve to be encouraged and treated with kindness so that I can start to blossom?". The person that is supposed to be my mirror is shifting shape from one day to the next. Is it me or the image who is starting a movement? Which one of us is the one who is truly coldhearted, arrogant, selfish and stupid? What does it say about me? I am willing to work with my own shadows. But it gets so tiring to always be taking responsibilty for all that goes wrong, to be always the one who has to fix a reactive behaviour. Because I'm supposed to be the one who has the wisdom and the inner tools and the time and the motivation. This is indeed a dark night of the soul.
A psychologist told me once that loyalty is just an excuse for not becoming independent of other people and that loyalty only forces you to put up with things you shouldn't have to put up with. Hm, I don't know. To me it's more that you put up with things that you'd like to run away from, but you do it because you don't always put yourself first. And you don't always put yourself first because you see the other one as just as valuable an individual as yourself. But when does loyalty become martyrdom? On the other hand, what would the world look like without loyalty?
My definition of the Shadow, on shadow work, and how to integrate the shadow with the conscious mind
These are thoughts have formed throughout the years. I am not pretending to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist, although some psychology belonged to my education.Some 15 years ago, I read a small book by Jung and "Meeting the Shadow" by Zweig&Ambrams. It made a lot of sense to me. All the things that are past karmas (possibly future ones too) and not known to the conscious mind, as well as repressed experiences from one's present life, are stored in the subconscious mind - in the form of energy ("clumped" or "stagnated" maybe.)
I understand the unconscious to be, vaster, collective in nature. So if we start do dig into that realm, then it can be quite a bit to chew. I believe some people only deal with a few issues in a lifetime. Others are maybe here to clear it all out. I don't see any other way to gain freedom, since this subconscious material is making us be reactive in an automatic response type of way. As a result of evolution, a human being would eventually want to become more conscious and aware of his/her actions. Ok, you can witness one's automatic reactions but your are still not fee unless you are exposing these to the conscious mind (maybe one follows the other). It means you need something to trigger it big time so that you really see that there is a problem. So the idea of letting the feelings come out and befriending them would be more or less the same as making them conscious. However, if we still don't get in touch with the root problem then there is no or little change. Maybe there is some key issue in a person that once it has been exposed, will open up the rest of the garbage bin so that there is no more obstructions for the energies to flow. I believe that deep thinking is also important, there's a reason we have the faculty of a reasoning mind, so that we can make sense of our experiences rather than be overwhelmed by them. By seeing the patterns and understanding their nature, we are able to integrate the emotional self with the mind. I'm not sure the terminology is comprehensive enough to understand these things? I think all this worked for me quite well until I went into that relationship and got all stressed and screwed up emotionally. So I have no more guidelines as to how to manage my strong emotions except to put up with them and try and keep them under some kind of control (not suppressing but containing them). One important thing to consider, as far as what I believe, is that the Shadow distorts our perception of reality so that we cannot see it the way it really is.
Both things that we would generally speaking consider good, as well as bad things, can be part of the Shadow. For instance in my case, love has been suppressed to some deeper level of my being. I was never able even to fall in love. It was completely incomprehensible to me. By allowing mysef to become dependent of someone, I opened up the love thing. It was starting to clear out but it took me years before I felt certain things in my heart (the energycentre) that I could recognize as "love" and "compassion". It also helped to get a pet, because I could immediately see the response from the cat when I was giving love to him. This interaction was crucial. But I don't know if that's what I need from a man too. A more obivous and direct mirror. Or maybe it's now supposed to be more subtle and complex?
Artwork: "The Shadow", mixed media by author, copyright 1997