We carry our past with us, to wit, the primitive and inferior man with his desires and emotions, and it is only with an enormous effort that we can detach ourselves from this burden. If it comes to a neurosis, we invariably have to deal with a considerably intensified shadow. And if such a person wants to be cured it is necessary to find a way in which his conscious personality and his shadow can live together.
- Carl Jung "Answer to Job" (1952)
It's a rainy day after a stormy weekend, figuratively speaking. In other words, I was pretty angry this weekend and I realized I had been pretty angry for a while.
I had a good conversation today about this with a friend and I've continued to think about it all day, between trying to get work done and managing mountains of laundry.
One website I found suggested a person consider the five qualities they hope others would see in them, consider their opposites and find ways to accept such qualities in themselves. As I did this exercise, I did feel resistance about being those shadow qualities -- except for one that I just shrugged about.
I said to my friend this morning: How does a person do it? My question is really how does a person do this civilly and politely, in a way that integrates both shadow and light?
This afternoon I started wondering whether every aspect of ourselves has a shadow side to it, and how we ever function in an integrated, authentic way. The Jung quotation above -- Jung is the author of the concept of shadow -- helps me see that this work is necessary when unacknowledged shadows turn to neuroses, to dis-ease.
I talked with another friend this afternoon -- the laundry was not engaging and the clients had not called back -- about the idea of how to put forward an integrated self, how not to only show the acceptable parts. We decided that the essential work is done internally and that life flows out of that. It's not that we can work hard to show our true selves, warts and all, but just that we be where we are in the world, and work to be more at peace with both shadow and light.
Tomorrow I have a meeting with someone who knows more about this than I do. I'm planning to ask her about this as we talk. I'll report back. It feels unsettling but in a good way.