Until we become conscious of our Shadow, everything that happens to us seems like fate…

Until we become conscious of our Shadow, everything that happens to us seems like fate…

Life just "happens" to us and we only observe it...but what about those of us who do not want to just be an observer?

My favorite Carl Jung quote regarding the human personality’s Shadow is: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

To start with, let’s consider how the Shadow manifests itself and how it affects our lives. We are each born as an amazing and unique creature, with particular characteristics and talents. However, just when a child is beginning to learn about the world, the repressive system of “education” comes into their life. Despite the fact that the world we find ourselves in is multicolored, this system moulds a person into a binary framework made up of dichotomies like “good-bad”, “right-wrong” or “possible-impossible”. From childhood, most of us are brought up and live in a Procrustean bed made up of other people’s ideas.

It is often believed that we have a good understanding of ourselves, but it can be disheartening to admit that many of us don’t truly discover our own desires and aspirations until after the age of forty. Until then, we may have been unwittingly living our lives according to other people’s expectations and agendas, neglecting our own needs and wants.

When I ask people a simple question such as “Who are you?”, most answer with something along the lines of: “I am a man/woman”, “husband/wife”, “boss”, “citizen” etc. Therefore, we often end up instinctively defining ourselves through the system of roles and masks “given” to us by society, without answering the most important question: “Who am I? And what is really important to ME?”

Often we even manage to find success on this path, the one not chosen by us. However, despite having everything we thought we wanted, we may still experience feelings of anxiety, emptiness, and stagnation. We may lose our sense of joy, purpose, and motivation. Looking towards the future, we may find ourselves plagued by the question: “What’s next?” as we anxiously search for a new direction.

In order to truly understand ourselves and regain a sense of joy in life, it’s important to become acquainted with our Shadow. This is where we may find parts of ourselves that we rejected, such as our unique talents, energy, and creativity. It’s where our dreams and sense of purpose may have been hiding all along.

How did this rejection come about? As a rule, it started because of prohibitions, criticism, humiliation, punishment or rejection from significant adults and others around us.

Our fears often cause us to push aside our dreams and tell ourselves things like, “I can’t afford it right now,” or “I need to focus on getting a more practical career first.” These fears may cause us to ignore our talents, energy sources, and sense of purpose. Each of us carries a metaphorical “bag” filled with forgotten and neglected gifts that may seem like mere stones, but are actually worth their weight in gold. The process of Shadow work involves transforming our fears into magical helpers, our weaknesses into strengths, and turning stones into gold.

Realizing and acknowledging our shadow can be an extremely difficult and often impossible task to undertake on our own. Our ego, which is responsible for our safety and well-being, actively resists this painful process and does everything possible to avoid awareness. It can be scary to approach the boundaries of our comfort zone, to radically change our lives, and to step into the unknown. It’s much easier to dismiss our inner calling as a mere whim and to continue to suffer rather than to take action. Our mind will often find ways to justify inaction, saying that it’s stupid, dangerous, or costly. Even successful people have to contend with internal and external voices that belittle their inner calling, such as “What more do you need? Look at everyone else, you have it all,” or “You should endure for the sake of your family, because they have everything thanks to you.” These voices can make it even harder to step out of our comfort zone and embrace our Shadow.

At some point, our social conditioning and the limitations imposed by our ego become too much to bear, and the call of our soul becomes too loud to ignore. It’s like we become the character of Alice, and start to follow the white rabbit down the rabbit hole.

Although the new path may be challenging, it will inevitably lead us to take control of our lives and fulfill our deepest desires to be authentic. It’s about being ourselves, not just appearing to be something we’re not.


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