“The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.”
~Carl Gustav Jung
Much of our interaction with others involves the projection of our individual and mutual psyches within the realm that exists between us. What ‘stuff’ we have we bring to the relationship; the good and the not-so-good. This depends on the situation and the person we deal with.
Of course, one of the biggest determinants of all is our mood.
As we add one concern upon another, and depths of concern we can’t even explain, an unbridled anxiety emerges and manifests through an outburst we hardly reckon as ours. For some reason what precipitated the angry response seemed so innocuous, but as we look around we can’t help but see the wreckage of a hurt relationship before us. We wonder how we will put it back together again.
When To Be Especially Cautious
Our shadow, as Jung calls it, is ever present and typically dormant. And given the right circumstances (or the wrong circumstances as this case may be) our problematic material comes welling to the surface.
Just very recently I recall dealing with some family issues beyond my control—it seemed like some real dynamism was at play—and a simple interaction that should have been dealt with calmly ended up awry. Suddenly, without much thought, my actions had hurt someone. Given the circumstances, and the presence of my shadow, all the ingredients for me to hurt someone came to be real.
When we are worried, and rightfully so, and situations present where we are not thinking straight, we are most susceptible to the uncontrolled manifestation of our shadow—the unique permeation of our sinful nature. This is when we are most likely to hurt people.
In our hurt we will hurt, unless we can acknowledge the fact that we are emotionally compromised.
We can just as easily see those things of our shadow (what we do not like about ourselves) in others. And those things are most likely the things that will upset us; whilst we never realise what upset us was the projection of ourselves that we saw on or in that person.
Understanding Representations Of The Shadow
Of course, one of the best tasks of life—from truth’s perspective—is to mine knowledge of our biological and experiential flaws. Like, we have an opportunity to dig deeply into the furrows of our innermost weaknesses that may be dredged up from our pasts.
Therapy of the psychoanalytic (i.e. Jungian) type is of great advantage, but just being curious, and becoming historians of our lives—and the lives of our parents and grandparents—may give us critical knowledge.
As we come to understand the representations of our shadow we become less likely to sting people out of a projective response.
Much conflict, bitterness, and resentment occurs because of what we, personally, have seen in another that reminds us of our unbearable faults. Much of this is avoidable if we are honest with ourselves. Much of this can be understood when we look deeply into ourselves.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.