Carl Jung described a person’s subconscious “Shadow” into which they repress conscious knowledge of their self which they don’t like about their self.
We recognize our Shadows when we see them in others, whence the maxim, “You spot it, you got it.”
Why do we react more strongly to some people’s flaws than to others? Because we are more intimately familiar with those flaws. Why?
We “know” those flaws well, subconsciously in our own selves.
When we see our own flaws like a movie projected onto a screen, they rise into our consciousness from their hiding in our subconscious. Jung called this “Shadow projection” and used it in psychoanalysis to reveal a person’s darkest dislikes, because, to you, your worst dislikes are only subconscious (= “below consciousness”). And, importantly here, it is YOU yourself who rates them from bad to worst.
“Confrontation with the shadow [by your conscious ego’s mind] produces at first a dead balance, a standstill that hampers moral decisions and makes convictions ineffective … chaos, melancholia [depression].” [Jung, “Mysterium Coniunctionis,” 497]
Psychologists and other coaches of “Shadow work” warn us about the fortitude required to face our own deepest darkness. Little else requires the brutal self-honesty of Shadow work, and the preparation to face one’s own deepest shame—shame that has resulted from ignoring, avoiding, neglecting, and/or repressing our own deepest flaws, pains, and dislikes. It’s critical to recognize this repression into the Shadow, and its projection onto others, as the most powerful of defense mechanisms we have psychologically. It’s not a stretch to relate this to historical notions of Satan and temptation [_____ my own take on Satan in Christianity]************
An example of how disturbing Shadow work can be is therapy for victimization. How does the dark power of “Shadow work” operate in our growing awareness of our victimhood? Our conscious ego is disturbed by the possibility that victimization means we were stripped of our full autonomy. What else contributes to the power of that strong reaction? At first, nothing conscious. Instead, it is the force of the subconscious Shadow where dark knowledge is suppressed. More about this ________.
This extremely readable author situates the shadow in relation to the ego, the Unconscious, and the Collective Unconscious, and the 4 Jungian archetypes.
He delicately explains in very plain language the power and importance of recognizing that everything wrong with your life is your fault—no one else’s. Explains “complex validation” (the validation of complexes, which are ways our brains get wired to react without thinking) and cognitive “confirmation bias” (which is our proclivity to see evidence of what we already believe).
“… expectation leads to betrayal and negative emotion that’s meant to force us to change our habits. Jung believed that when it came to high neuroticism and overcoming negative emotion, a big piece came from a lack of responsibility and courage to face your mistakes.”
“We know that deep pain comes from betrayal, so Jung argues that taking responsibility for that betrayal and realizing you could equally do the same is the cure for negative emotion,” which is precisely my thesis in my victimization article ________. His principles are also very Jordan Peterson.
View at Medium.com
“Embracing the shadow,” article by Richard Rohr. The Shadow isn’t itself any evil part of us. https://cac.org/god-sees-wholes-see-parts-2016-07-10/
“The Shadow Knows. What is hidden in yours?” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/traversing-the-inner-terrain/201706/the-shadow-knows
Jung’s most salient quotes in “Shadow Self: How to Embrace Your Inner Darkness https://lonerwolf.com/shadow-self/.
A quick, curious test on your knowledge of your own Shadow https://lonerwolf.com/shadow-self-test/.
If you do not yourself become conscious of your shadow, you will become its slave. (as your conscious ego’s mind merges with your repressed shadow.) All your relationships depend absolutely on your consciousness your own shadow, while not being ruled by it. Lifetime awareness of the shadow is required for a woman to stay in touch with her masculine side, or a man to stay in touch with his feminine side.
“Jung considered as a perennial danger in life that ‘the more consciousness gains in clarity, the more monarchic becomes its content…the king constantly needs the renewal that begins with a descent into his own darkness’—his shadow—which the ‘dissolution of the persona’ sets in motion.”
“…one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality…”
“…positive aspects… may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem, anxieties, and false beliefs).”
“… a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.”
Projection: “a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.”
“[If and when] an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others—such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions—…[a] painful and lengthy work of self-education.”
Poem: “The night never ends”