Repression – Confronting the shadow September 6, 2023 by Riston Nearly all humans have some quality or aspect of themselves that they dislike or feel some degree of shame for, and these qualities are often buried beneath the exterior of their projected personas. These aspects are generally hidden so stuffed so deeply in the unconscious that most do not realize that they are there, and the only indications manifest in sometimes seemingly erratic, negative behavior that appears out of character. The repressed qualities of our personalities were identified as “the Shadow” by the psychologist Carl Jung, and are key but often neglected facets of any type of inner work. The repressed aspects of the personality are problematic for two related reasons: first, they are themselves essentially pent up energy, and secondly, concealing them requires the expenditure of a great deal of energy. When an individual is under a great deal of stress that diverts the will from maintaining the lock on repressed energy, that person is likely to lose control and the repressed energies burst from within. This is generally due to the person not having created or found a more productive means of channeling those parts of the personality. Some of the common ways the shadow expresses itself: Contradictory Behavior – The most indicative expression of the shadow is when under stress someone acts in a way contrary to their public persona. Emotional Outbursts – An expression that often manifests as a sudden, unexpected, and cruel statement. Vehement Denial – Covering up undesirable aspects with their positive expression. “Accidental” Behavior – Occurs when a person attempts to say that they are powerless over som self-destructive behavior. Overidealization – A deflection of shadow aspects which manifests as full commitment to some idealogical cause. Projection – Likely one of the most frequent and common expressions of the shadow, projection is simply projecting repressed qualities onto others. A key example being that people with irrational hatred towards homosexuals often tend to be repressed homosexuals. Archetypes Presented by the Shadow The Tough Guy – These types present a tough, hyper-masculine and aggressive facade, but these attributes almost always cover up some insecurities and deeper issues. Easy to provoke into overreaction. The Saint – These types project an image of high virtue, but secretly their motive is to exercise power or satisfy secret desires. The Passive-Aggressive Charmer – The charmer presents a polite and amenable front, which disguises a secret aggression and lust for power. The symptoms of this type are that they participate in vicious gossip, or suddenly betray or sabotage others unexpectedly. The Fanatic – Fanatics are generally deeply insecure types who tend to latch on to causes. Belief is like a drug for these types, and they tend to become deeply paranoid and blame others when called to task and things go south. The Rigid Rationalist – Rigid rationalists usually fall into the trap of what’s sometimes called “Scientism”, a quasi-religious adulation of science, physicalism, and skepticism. It’s generally inevitable that these types blow up in some weird emotional way. The Snob – These types make a great show of their supposed uniqueness and interesting backgrounds, while often exaggerating or blatantly lying. This often obscures an extremely mediocre background and personality. The Extreme Entrepreneur – These types project a demeanor of incredible self-reliance and the propensity to work hard. They have great difficulty with delegating any work, and this is often problematic later on. This projection often masks a deep desire to be taken care and coddled. The Integrated Human One of the most important keys to living an authentic life lies in our ability to understand and integrate the shadow. Those who do exude a greater sense of confidence and spontaneity, and retain a childlike sense of the world. They tend to not rigidly conform to conventions and societal expectations, which gives an edge for more powerful accomplishments. Some of the steps necessary for dealing with the shadow are: See the shadow – This is generally the most challenging step by the very nature of the shadow itself, as the side of our personality we deny and have spent a lifetime trying to conceal. Become more aware of your projections on others, patterns from youth, and dreams. This process should be viewed as a process of discovery, and with practice it gets easier to know the shadow. Embrace the shadow – Learning and confronting the shadow tends to be an uncomfortable experience, but these aspects should be embraced. While the energies encapsulated by the shadow may appear to be undesirable, they should be harnessed and utilized as an asset. Explore the shadow – The shadow is a source of profound creative energy, and much like a deep underground stream can be tapped for inspiration. This can mostly be accomplished through analyzing dreams and embracing truly unsavory aspects and impulses to channel into creative work. Show the shadow – The extreme social conventions we try to live under can be extremely burdensome and sap our energies, finding ways to flout trivial conventions is and important part of accessing one’s genius. Respect your opinions more and others less (in areas where you have deep knowledge) Practice being more assertive and less compromising. Care less about what others think of you. Sometimes we must offend or even hurt those who block our paths. Flout the conventions that others follow religiously. This process is almost like an exorcism, in that you are releasing pent up energy locked in corrupted forms. This clears the way for a more authentic person to shine through.