In Jungian psychoanalysis, the shadow is generally seen as those parts of us which we have pushed into the unconscious. They may be aspects of our psychology which we despise, are embarrassed of, or have been deemed socially unacceptable. Think about being raised in a very religious family where sexuality is equated with sin. Everybody gets sexual urges, and repressing them out of mind takes a lot of energy.

The main issue with shadow is that it takes a lot of energy to keep that stuff hidden away from ourselves. It’s like holding a basketball underwater with your palm - and the stuff tends to pop up and surface when we aren’t looking. Think about clergy sex abuse cases as a prime example of repressed stuff surfacing in insidious ways.

A lot of psychoanalysis deals with bringing that stuff up to the light and recognizing it. This doesn’t mean that you have to act out your impulses, merely that you recognize where some of your issues come from. Integrating the shadow does not mean you lose your common sense, in fact it will heighten your ability to make good choices.

As warriors, it’s important to be on the path of integrating our shadow. Doing so releases a tremendous amount of energy (the energy we used to hold that stuff in our unconscious). it also helps us to be more conscious about the choices we make.

While I am no therapist, I want to give you a quick beginner’s exercise in how to see and recognize your shadow:

It’s quite simple - just look for those things that you despise in others, and there you will find that which you despise in yourself. For many people, this is hard to grasp and seems paradoxical. let me give you an example.

In a recent study at a US university there was an overwhelming correlation in people who were classified as homophobic and arousal by homoerotic imagery. It’s likely that extreme homophobes are harboring highly repressed homoerotic urges. To keep these urges at bay, these people overcompensate with hatred.

So think about someone that rubs you the wrong way. What is it about them that you don’t like. Do they talk too much” Perhaps you have feelings that you’d like to be the center of attention.

We hate things the most in others that we hate in ourselves.

When you encounter people in your daily life, follow your natural inner dialog about them. What is the first thing you think about the people you see? Is there an inner critic lurking about?

Category : spirit