What really is this thing called shadow that Carl Jung is talking about? According to him, this is one of the things that possess the most inferior characteristic of the psyche. It involves both known and the unknown aspects of our selves lurking behind the threshold of our awareness; resembling some kind of a specter that is somehow very hard to defeat. We all have shadows and If let uncheck, shadows might cause serious psychological discomforts and problems. But when these shadows are repressed, it jumps out to the cracks of our psyche in a very disturbing and troubling ways. So in today’s high-tech digital world, how can one overcome his or her negative self, fears, unconscious behaviors or shadows?
The shadow is our uncontrolled impulses and negative emotions hidden from oneself or from others because of its feared undesirability. Sometimes, these aspects of our selves are nasty, contemptuous, and judgmental. That’s why people hide them so that they can fit socially and can live harmoniously with others to get what they want which is, of course, a life free from problems, stresses, and struggles. Does it mean that man is less good than he imagines? We are not sure about it but what is sure is that our shadow lurks in the depths of our unconscious and can strongly affect our emotions, decisions, choices, etc. unless we master the art of taming them.
We can tell that we are committing a mistake against ourselves through this shadow when we find ourselves uncomfortable as we contemplate about our actions. Because beneath our subconscious, there it lays exerting controls for our self-destruction despite us consciously knowing it would be better not to engage in such deeds. This is the main reason why it must be externalized, exposed into the light, integrated to our conscious self rather than repressed. To learn to tame it, we must accept it with open arms and not look at it as an enemy but part of one’s being. As Carl Jung himself puts it: “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious”.
Another way to harness its capacity is to engage in it making it the source of our productive impulses. Not through the manner of powerlessness but by mediating its power, strongly dances with its energy while also bringing it to the light of our consciousness so that it will not manifest as fate. By doing this, we must stand firm against its jealous, cruel, and insecure nature as opposed to letting its unconscious drives control our destiny through its behavior that encourages self-destruction and apathy. Creativity is perceived once the person bond a union with his or her shadow. Once done carefully, the inventive artists who deal with traumatic emotions and memories can now succeed against the pain it brings. So look carefully deep within for inside the deep dark fortress of our subconscious, our shadow is locked up like an angry dragon in the dungeon.
In addition, Jung also said that “to penetrate the darkness, we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer”. He suggested that the unconscious needs further light and exploration and expression. In challenging the shadow, Jung isn’t encouraging pretentious or arrogant behavior but instead, he inspires us to have awareness and mastery over its powers. He said that “confronting the shadow is extremely difficult, let alone harnessing its power. Most cannot and will not admit that deep down they are not holy, virtuous, selfless and good human beings but instead contain selfish destructive amoral and immoral impulses and capacities”. By denying this and deceiving oneself, the individual remains fragmented, unable to achieve wholeness just because he does not want to become conscious over his darkness. Therefore, we must look into it as it is the door to our Individuality.