Jean Wimmerlin, Unsplash
How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole — Carl Jung
“The Shadow is, so to say, the blind spot in your nature. It’s that which you won’t look at about yourself. This is the counterpart exactly of the Freudian unconscious, the repressed recollections as well at the repressed potentialities in you.” — Joseph Campbell
“ It’s the sandpaper in your psyche that rubs you raw until you make it conscious.” — Jaqueline Small, The sacred Purpose of Being Human
“To honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime.” Robert Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding The Dark Side of The Psyche
Until recently my mind stayed pretty much in the present or in the future. That’s where it still resides in the daytime, but at night I am visiting decisions and events in my past. Something in me seems to want a more comprehensive vision of myself and the life I have made. I see that I have not only made a life, I have made a self.
This self-making effort shows itself to be a lifelong construction project which is still unfinished. I remember times when I have been wrong, where I have been petty, where I have failed to be generous. I am apologetic. I tell myself I wouldn’t be that small, short sighted person now. I have been blind and now I see, as the line goes.
My spontaneous life review uncovers a more complete self because it shows all the warts. How could I have missed seeing these things in myself at the time I was acting them out? My decade of talk therapy did help by holding up a mirror to my thoughts and emotions, but can the work ever be completed in this lifetime? Not for me evidently.
Forgiveness is a central part of this process, a process that feels like stitching a larger self together out of my disowned bits and pieces. I realize where intolerance comes from. It comes from walling off big pieces of yourself. And where does tolerance come from? It comes from a feeling of relatedness.
When we see our disowned parts and reclaim them, we start to feel related to everything. We reclaim our humanity. We feel related to nature and to animals and plants, to other cultures and races. We grow larger, more grateful and more kind.
That is needed now as the Earth is starting to burn. Compassion and empathy have become the fulcrum upon which the survival of everything rests. Judgement and condemnation are the fires raging across our world right now.
Only better humans can save it.
- Anima Fire is my publications