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The Shadow Archetype, seen by C.G. Jung

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For C.G. Jung, the shadow represents what we have repressed in the unconscious because we feared being rejected by the important people in our lives: parents, educators, and more generally, the community in which we grew up. These repressed parts of ourselves can feel scary or shameful. They often express themselves in the form of judgments, rejections, fears, or projections, and form the basis for social and moral prejudices. However, they hold great potential if we learn to unify and calm the seemingly contradictory aspects of ourselves. Knowing the concept of shadow is a tool of acceptance that allows us to strengthen self-confidence, practice openness, benevolence and creativity, the foundations of healthy relationships. It is also an important tool to understand the dynamics of many family and business conflicts.

Everything is basically good in us!

“The shadow is something inferior, primitive, maladjusted and unfortunate, but not absolutely bad. “
“There is no light without shadow and no soul wholeness without imperfection. Life does not require perfection for its development, but fullness. Without imperfection there is no progress and no ascension. “
“Clarity does not come by imagining the light, but by becoming aware of the darkness. “
C.G. Jung – The Soul and Life, LGF, Paperback, 1995

C.G. Jung alludes to two polarities that make us up: shadow and light.
He also tells us that “without emotion it is impossible to transform darkness into light and apathy into movement. “

“Confronting man with his shadow also means showing him his light. He knows that shadow and light make up the world… When he sees his shadow and his light at the same time, he sees himself on both sides and thus arrives at his centre. “
C.G. Jung – Psychology of the Unconscious, Ed. paperback, 8th ed. p. 224.

The role of the shadow

In Jungian psychology, the shadow plays an important role. It represents everything we hide from others and from ourselves in order to conform to an “ideal model.” It is in fact our dark part, the complementary but negative pole of our ego complex. In this ignored zone, throughout our lives, the increasingly thick deposits of our past actions, of the suppression of our illicit desires, of all that we have done and failed to do, are deposited, feeding our feelings of guilt and bitterness. The more we willfully ignore this sediment, the blacker and thicker it becomes. This sediment does not necessarily represent the evil in us, but rather everything primitive, blind, maladjusted. It feeds our fear. In fact, the shadow embodies our personal unconscious. However, because of its archetypal roots, it can also represent absolute evil, especially on a collective level. Then the devil appears surrounded by his evil creatures.

“The unloved sides of ourselves, which we try in vain to eliminate from our lives, project themselves onto others and force us to recognize them. ” Jean Monbourquette

Most of the time we cast our shadow on others. It is always false. This projection of all our negativeness feeds our incomprehensible aversions and visceral hatred. But it is also a way to see clearly within ourselves, provided we become aware of this projection.

“Either we know our shadow or we do not know it; in the latter case it often happens that we have a personal enemy on whom we project our shadow, which we charge him gratuitously, and who carries it in our eyes as if it were his own, and on whom all the responsibility falls; he is our favorite enemy, whom we demonize and blame for all the faults, all the darkness, and all the vices that belong to us! We should bear a good part of the reproaches with which we heap upon others! Instead, we pretend that it is possible for us to free ourselves from our shadow; it is the eternal story of the straw and the beam. “
C.G.Jung – Man discovers his soul, ed. Mont-Blanc, 4th ed. p. 380.

How to face this so powerful unknown? We will quickly find that it has an energy that overwhelms us; forcing it makes us risk the worst. Instead, try to talk to it. Its answer will come one day, all by itself, obviously, in an unpredictable way. So we have to overcome the conflict instead of resolving it. Only at this price will we integrate our shadow without unpleasant consequences. If we refuse this deal – and the temptation is great – the shadow will secretly dominate our existence and set traps for us, possibly fatal (accidents). This is the case for the person who has lost his shadow, who thinks he knows everything about himself and who becomes a victim of his presumption.

Only the self can transcend the problem of the shadow. For it communicates with the great archetypes, the anima (feminine soul of man) and the animus (masculine pole of woman). Thus, the shadow has a relational function that is not only negative, but can even be creatively fruitful. The psychological process consists in becoming aware of one’s shadow and integrating it into one’s consciousness, beyond all moral and social prejudices that taint it.

Discovering your shadow is the key to understand yourself. It is a fundamental work in my programs

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