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Reply To: The Shadow


Mars; I really like the way you articulate your thoughts about this topic in this post for it gives me a much clearer picture than I had before. We all of course have our own individual way of describing things; and sometimes in conversation our impressions of what someone is saying is not always accurate. This was extremely helpful for me. The way we express ourselves with the other person in mind is so important and tone is critical because it’s so easy to misinterpret what others are saying and what they mean about something so scrutiny without bias becomes a central if not critical issue. My approach most of the time is to try and reserve any exact opinion about something until I feel I have some kind of accurate idea of the other persons thoughts about a topic or issue; but then there are times when I’m not sure so I ask. Thank you for your kind efforts in providing this for me because it helped a lot.

Reading what others are communicating is not always easy; and being the fallible human creatures that we are provides the perfect opportunity for the Shadow to create a little “havoc”; (which reminds me of the: “Trickster God”; whose greatest joy was often that of creating trouble between people); and as you mentioned in your reply: (“that Shadow is also us as well as them”); so our job from a Jungian perspective is to learn to know when it’s influence is present and to try and understand what it’s saying. If it’s toxic effects are left unattended and allowed to fester into antagonistic dialogue then it can totally destroy a reasonable discussion about anything. Often a good dose of diplomacy can help sort the problem issue out; but “projection of the Shadow” can become a huge concern.

This was such a major concern back on the old retired JCF CoaHO forums that several moderators were kept constantly busy watching for discussions that would get out of hand; and there was a special 19 page thread dedicated specifically to discourse that ran for about 5 years that explored various areas that one might encounter and how to think about responding. “Tone” for instance was a huge factor; also realizing that a “text based” medium played a huge part because a person has to divine or intuit what someone else is saying because words and text convey only so much; and depending on the mood you are in you may misinterpret or read your own meaning into what the other person is saying. (It was called the: “Art of Discourse” and is located in the: “Conversation with a Thousand Faces” section of the discussions for those who may be interested. Click on the Red Button to the left of this page for access.)

One of the things Joseph felt was important that he brought up numerous times was we should try and know our shadow; not that we should act on it; but to know and recognize it in our lives. But it also represents a kind of vault that contains gold of unrealized potential and values that we are not aware of as well as this dark side of our nature; so this interior journey we must take also contains another dimension of ourselves that lies waiting to be discovered as well as our dark unknown side that needs to be controlled. Sometimes it may be in the form of an inner child that needs healing; or a dragon that must be battled to overcome your own fear; or any number of other possibilities that lie within you that need addressing. One symbol Joseph often refers to is the snake because it sheds it’s skin; this represents the old life that must die for new birth to begin. And indeed this aspect of our nature has manifestations revealed in different cultures throughout human history. But I often think of the one he used: “the fates lead him who will; he who won’t they drag”.

From pages: 68-83; in: “Pathways to Bliss” Joseph goes into much deeper detail about how the Shadow inter-relates to the other aspects of the Psyche; such as the: the Ego, the Persona, the Anima/Animus; and what particular situations might stimulate a certain reaction or response; but it is not something that will just reveal itself without some considerable effort because it’s that part about yourself that lays hidden; and Joseph reminds us it would be wise for us to find out what that something is. For more about this subject so you’ll understand better how it affects us by looking up the term “Shadow” on Daryl Sharps: “Lexicon”: here.


Addendum: Mars; I have altered the last part of this post by removing what I quoted from you since after rereading I realized it was not quite accurate and instead left a referral link highlighted by using the word (here) to click on at the end of the last sentence above. For anyone reading this: Sharp’s Lexicon is a recognized (go to source) used by many mental health professionals for clarity with many of Carl Jung’s ideas used in his terminology. It is especially helpful for better understanding some of the finer nuances and ambiguity often encountered concerning Jung’s cosmology and how these terms might be applied because many of them are either interdependent or interactive with each other.

(So to use a couple of metaphors when first learning about Jung): it’s like getting an accurate picture of the overall car you are riding in and how to drive it; as well as how all the moving parts work together.” “It’s a tool that can be used to help one recognize and find out; as Joseph mentions: “some of the things that are ticking in us”. (As for myself I can’t say enough about how helpful this little Lexicon has become and use it constantly when attempting to better figure out what I’m reading or what somewhat someone else is referring to. Often cross-referencing can become a problem and many people may have somewhat slightly different interpretations of the same term; and this particular resource is one of the most recognized as a standard credible reference to go by.)