Me and my shadows: what informs you, what affects you?

a wall with a family of shadows on it - father and four smaller girls, all with their arms in the air.Bit of psycobabble today, but something I am finding useful. I’m reading a book on the shadow aspect – based in Jungian psychology. A shadow aspect basically refers to an unconscious part of the personality that the conscious ego does not recognise in itself.

They are most often presumed to be negative elements, but our shadow selves may be positive or negative.

As we don’t usually recognise the shadow side of ourselves, it means that we can be prone to projection: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.

This is where things, for me, started to get really interesting.

There was a line in the book that asked: what informs you, and what affects you?

Basically, the idea is that if you find something that someone says infuriating, irritating, excruciating and so on, you need to look deeper. It could be that the very thing that affects you so much is something about yourself you can’t quite bring yourself to face.

So having read this I set off one day to check it out. Revelatory.

I met someone who bragged about how much money they earn, had and spent. Rather than just finding this interesting, I found it infuriating – as you can tell by my language still – ‘bragged’ – hardly a judgement-free word!

So I stopped to think. Why do I find the idea of ‘wanting’ money hard? Have I not accepted my own avarice?

I like to be seen as generous and hate the idea of people thinking that I am greedy – but as the book said, we are all both. So turning the page, what should I do now having spotted a possible shadow?

When had my own ‘greed’ been good to me?

Ok. Well, actually lots of times. I can accept that my ‘want’ of money means I can provide well for my family, gives me choices in what and how I work, gives me the opportunity for rest and respite and the chance to be generous to others. I am both generous and greedy.

The wisdom is we have to fully accept that we are all of the traits that we see and get an emotional charge from. It’s not easy as many of these things are the things we loathe and detest, or aspire to and think are out of our reach. I have found it hard to look at words such as arrogance, stupid, ungrateful and concepts such as privilege and class.

The idea is that when we recognise that we are both things – both one element and its shadow – we can unplug ourselves from being so emotionally charged. We can respond better to people being who they are as we don’t load our stuff on top of them too.

The book is Dark Side of the Light Chasers if anyone is interested.

I’m enjoying playing around with these ideas, watching where I have a strong emotional reaction. What will I discover today?

Photo thanks to Pink Sherbet Photography and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.

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