Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shadow Boxing

We are sometimes extremely resistant to things that need to be done. For me, it's doing my taxes. Kathy and I have an appointment with the accountant tonight, and I've just finished crunching all my numbers, adding up deductions, putting all the figures in the correct places, and so forth.
I often dread this whole experience, and I'm not sure exactly why. Once I get into the flow of it, it is actually kind of fun. I'm systematic with how to get it organized and moved through, and once it starts, it goes fairly quickly. So why the resistance?

It is probably because I am not battling against the work itself, but against my fear about the work. In short, I am fighting my Shadow. 

C. G. Jung identified the Shadow as the stuff about ourselves that we do not want to acknowledge. The Shadow is the repository of the unwanted, and unloved parts of us that we hide out of shame or fear. The Shadow is slightly different from the Unconscious. The Unconscious is what we do not know about ourselves, while the Shadow is what we do not want to know.

Whenever we find ourselves strongly resisting something, we can be pretty sure that we are moving into the domain of the Shadow. This is the time to stop and become very alert, noting the feelings in the body, and the thoughts in the mind. Ask yourself if there is something here that you are not taking responsibility for, and if the answer is yes, then you have encountered you Shadow.

Moving into the Shadow to find and re-integrate this unwanted material into consciousness is a bit scary, but it is also tremendously rewarding. It can help rewire our brains to take new pathways, rather than the old habitual ones that no longer serve us. It will probably take repeated journeys into the shadow to really change things, since these old habits die hard. But like the Hero's Journey into the Underworld, when we return after doing battle with the Shadow, we bring back with us the precious and useful gift of Awareness.
Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the Shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular. ~ C.G. Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 13: Alchemical Studies, par 335, pg 265

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