Sunday, April 18, 2010
Me and My Shadow
The other day, I happend to be poking around on Facebook. I check every so often to see if Bianca's bio-father is on Facebook. He hasn't been. Until now. I suddenly found myself enmeshed in link upon link to his wife, his step daughter, his son and his son's mother. As I looked and read, I was struck with the desire to start causing trouble. Who should I message? Who should I mess with? Should I reach out to his son and let him know he has another half sister? Or make up a pretend Facebook profile to trap him or make friends with his wife?
Ultimately, I reigned all those desires in and closed out of all the profiles. I did it for two reasons. #1 I didn't want to waste my energy on something so negative and #2 I knew that no good would come of it. Still the thoughts pop into my head and I feel like there must be something wrong with me that I had those intentions in the first place.
So I asked Susan, my T, what this is all about. Shadow, she says. It's your shadow.
In Jungian psychology, the shadow or "shadow aspect" is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." It may be (in part) one's link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to project: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections are unrecognized "The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object--if it has one--or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power." These projections insulate and cripple individuals by forming an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world.
There have been times, many times really, in the past where I've had a desire to do something cruel or destructive to another person and, though I've known it was not the right thing to do, I felt powerless to stop myself from following through. The fact that, this time, I did not do what I daydreamed about is progress. And the fact I recognized and questioned it is healing. It was nice to hear my T say that this is a part of every person. And, as Jung says, the more embodied it is, the blacker it is. So bringing this darker aspect of myself into the light of consciousness, the here and now of reality, is literally enlightening.