The Hidden Power of Our Dark Side
Like all animals, we contain instincts for sex and aggression. Yet without conscious effort, we tend to repress these instincts because we yearn to ‘fit in’. Early on in life, we put up psychological defenses to ensure that ‘dangerous’ parts of our personality are not expressed. Thus, these characteristics are repressed into the unconscious.
All of us have a shadow. What differentiates us from others is the degree to which we are conscious of it.Liam – Founder of Primal Party Club
When our shadow remains firmly unconscious, it wrecks havoc in our life. Repressed contents do not merely disappear, but rather they function independently of our conscious awareness. The shadow has the capacity to override our conscious ego, exerting control over our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We can be unconsciously driven into turmoil and destructive patterns of being, without having the slightest inclination.
As Robert Louis Stevenson notes in his book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, man is not one, but truly two; he has a conscious personality and a shadow, each of which often battle for supremacy within his mind.
Our shadow not only contains destructive aspects of our personality, but also potent, creative, and powerful capabilities. During our development certain traits and impulses are condemned by our family, peers, and educators. This condemnation isn’t logical or caring, it is borne out of envy, fear, ignorance or jealousy.
Our proclivity to abide by social expectations causes us to repress our talents and healthy urges. If cultivated, these innate abilities and impulses have the potential to make us more effective human beings. By removing self-censorship and releasing our true selves, we bloom into who we are meant to be – benefitting both ourselves and everybody around us.
We must be curious and brave enough to look “behind the scenes”. We must look down into our depths and realise that our conscious ego is not always in control. If we recognise and accept that our mind is often overtaken by the power of our shadow, we can begin to pursue real freedom.
Once we become more aware of these dark aspects of ourselves, we must honor them. If we fail to integrate them into our life, we become weak and lost. We cannot serve two inner drives without dissipating the strength of our soul and it’s primal energies.
The shadow MUST become a part of one’s conscious personality.
The shadow can be an unbeatable source of renewal. The new and productive impulses that we can release cannot come from established values of the ego. Abiding to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ rarely empower a deep sense of vital self expression.
When there is an impasse, and sterile time in our lives—despite an adequate ego development—we must look to the dark. I.e., the unacceptable part our ourselves which we shy away from. This brings us to the fundamental fact that the shadow is the door to our individuality. In so far as the shadow renders us our first view of the unconscious part of ourselves – it represents the first stage toward meeting the Self.
There is, in fact, no access to the unconscious and to our own reality but through the shadow.
Only when we realise that part of ourselves which we have not hitherto seen or preferred not to see can we proceed to question and find the sources from which it feeds and the basis on which it rests. No progress or growth is possible until the shadow is adequately confronted….
…and confronting shadow means more than merely knowing about it. It is not until we have truly been shocked into seeing ourselves as we really are, instead of as we wished we were, that we can take the first step towards our truth.