Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. Carl Jung
I had a very interesting interaction with a client recently and unexpectantly the advice I was sharing would ultimately backfire as I was dealing with an element of stubbornness that I had also suppressed in myself.
The mental anguish that followed was agonizing and so I had to press re-start and ask myself what it is that I am dealing with here, and how do I learn from the experience?
I realized that the ‘culprit’ had been the shadow or the dark side of my personality.
The shadow is a psychological term for everything we can’t see in ourselves, qualities that are suppressed and part of our unconscious. We cannot eliminate the shadow and most of us go to great lengths to contain it to protect our self-image
How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side if I am to be whole. Carl Jung
A good time to have a close look at what happened.
How I can avoid the same behaviour in the future. Negative emotions are almost like a minefield we walk through blindfolded each day – controlled by the unconscious mind while the conscious self goes on autopilot and sweeps those emotions out of view.
So how are we are less triggered by other people’s behaviour and attitudes? Assessing the environment with increased self-awareness can result in greater clarity and compassion.
Owning our shadows can release trapped ‘ego invested’ energy, and dissolves internal tension that has been used to protect our self-image.
Part of the journey, therefore, involves self-honesty while cultivating a sense of self-compassion infused with love and forgiveness. Shadows cannot be ignored – so how do you catch them operating through you to close the gap between your conscious personality and your unconscious?
‘One of the best ways to identify your shadow is to pay attention to your emotional reactions toward other people. Sure, your clients might be aggressive, arrogant, inconsiderate, or impatient, but if you don’t have those same qualities within you, you won’t have a strong reaction to their behaviour or the conditions in their personality’
She (my shadow) had dug her heels in with the incoming carer and was triggered by several assumptions based on very little information. I was emotionally charged by her reaction and the possible implications that it may have for me. I now see her stubbornness was inevitably a disowned quality of my shadow.
To be less frustrated, I had to acknowledge this. In quiet reflection, I recalled all the times when I was equally stubborn – where this ‘one’ repressed emotion had taken over my life and negatively influenced those closest to me.
Had I self-sabotaged the situation? Had I offered advice or guidance based on my stubbornness? Had my behaviour been hijacked by a hidden archetype?
This self-reflection and inner dialogue alone helped me to acknowledge this ‘shadow’ and integrate it into my conscious mind so that in future it could become my ally and not my enemy!
Owning a “darker” part of me did feel a little uncomfortable and that was because there was a great deal of resistance from my ego. But when faced with the situation again I was better prepared, was less emotionally invested in the outcome and had regained my power by ‘owning’ one of my ‘darker’ more prominent repressed feelings.
When integrated a sense of wholeness, inner strength and limitless potential ensued.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate. Carl Jung