How to recognize and reintegrate the shadow aspects of your personality
GUEST COLUMN: MICK QUINN AND DEBORA PRIETO, 2nd of 2 parts — But, before we get to the cure, let’s look at eight ways to tell if you have a shadow.
1. Do you sometimes despise certain situations or people?
2. Is there one person in your life who seems to bring up swells of emotion in you?
3. Do insurmountable differences sometimes appear in your personal relationships?
4. Do you seem to rush to immediate conclusions about people and situations?
5. Do you get annoyed or even angry, sometimes over the slightest provocation?
6. Are other people seemingly intolerant of your beliefs and convictions?
7. Do you ever experience aching feelings of envy or jealousy?
8. Do you deeply admire someone who seems to have great passion, purpose and direction?
The shadow is a part of us that harbors all the things we don’t like about ourselves. It also contains all the parts of ourselves we admire, but keep hidden away from the world, which also means we are disowning the responsibility for those potentials as well.
As we have seen, we normally try to rid ourselves of shadow. We project these deeply felt emotional reactions arising in us.
We will try to cast these feelings onto other people or situations in an attempt to be rid of them.
For example: You may perceive your spouse to be bitter and insensitive. But, what you might be seeing is a reflection of the shadow in you. Because you don’t like that about yourself, you have denied it and buried it in your shadow.
And then, trying to get rid of your shadow, you will project it onto the world and other people. So, they seem to become bitter and insensitive and not you.
Finding the shadow is easy
Evolutionary pointer: Ninety percent of all emotional responses – whether positive or negative – to another person or life situation, reflect the presence of the shadow in you.*
As for the remaining ten percent, our emotional responses are evidence that we are witnessing events that are expressing the verity of those situations. It is fine to despise certain qualities of others, but only if we are absolutely certain they are not a mirror image of our own shadow.
A simple rule of thumb to tell the difference between the ninety percent and the ten percent is: If you find that you are obsessed with positive or negative qualities in another person or situation, it is likely a snapshot of denied or repressed aspects of you – it is a snapshot of your own shadow.
Once spotted, the process of reintegrating the shadow and making the ‘I’ whole is fantastically uncomplicated, so much so that you may doubt its effectiveness. Laying claim to the symptoms of the shadow is the first key to their dissolution.
Here is what to do
Evolutionary pointer: Acknowledge the particular emotional response and then say to yourself: “This (emotion/feeling/thought) is mine.”
The reason that this is straightforward is because the Freudian ‘I’ is a self-righting entity. To supply it with the correct information, such as with the statements: “This angst is mine,” or “This anger is mine,” allows the ‘I’ to harmonize and thereby begin to function normally. In essence, you stop lying to yourself!
It is by our private statement of acknowledgment and ownership that we, along with the world around us, are freed from the painful symptoms of shadow.
Therefore, the frustration we experience on a daily basis turns out not to be life giving us a hard time, but a reflection of our disowned aggression toward life – “This frustration is mine,” or the self-confidence we so admire in our business partner is a reflection of the potential that we deny in ourselves – “This potential is mine.”
Emotional brilliance begins by talking to ourselves. With diligence, we can end the undesirable rollercoaster ride of insensitive or unconscious responses and liberate the power and grace of our full potential.
Three practical steps to follow
1. Pay close attention when ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘it’ or ‘they’ stimulate emotions in you.
2. Identify the emotion or mix of emotions you are experiencing.
3. Acknowledge and own these sensations by saying: “This (emotion/feeling/thought) is mine.”