People look to many different things to bring them joy – money, status, a beautiful place to live, the perfect partner, children, friends…. . However there is also generally a sense that a person’s way of being – who or how they are – has a greater influence on their happiness than the people or things around them. Continue Reading
Sadness is something many of us try to avoid feeling. However, as with all the pure emotions, we believe it plays an important role in life. The purpose of sadness is to help us release the pain of our loss so that we are free to find new connections and to risk love again. After identifying our loss and allowing our grief to flow we are free to find a joyful or more meaningful way of remembering, and with time to move forward in our life to form fresh connections.
In his book Owning Your Own Shadow Robert S. Johnson writes
“The unconscious cannot tell the difference between a ‘real’ act and a symbolic one”
This counterintuitive idea opens up a way forward for working with our Shadow side. It is actually great news if you’re interested in changing your inner world. It means that we can take the opportunity of exploring our shadows in a symbolic way, in an environment where this exploration will not have any consequences in our ‘real’ world. And our unconscious mind will not know the difference. So exploring our shadows in a symbolic environment will actually be real for our unconscious. We can get to know buried parts of ourselves, and integrate them into our ‘real’ lives by examining them in a symbolic way. Just another of the many paradoxes we come across when working with the shadow.
Despite human beings having spent many millennia attempting to understand and categorise the world, there are still many simple ‘facts’ that we don’t know. Is light a wave or a particle? Even the most cutting edge physicists don’t know the answer to this question. This kind of paradox is part of nature and part of life. When we look inside ourselves we also find many paradoxes, and paradox is something we work with often in Shadow Work. To be a mature Human we need to become comfortable with paradox. I am one and many: the sole master of myself, yet I am also made of many different parts, often with conflicting ideas and beliefs. I love and care for those closest to me and yet I show them my worst sides. I am confident and successful, yet my sense of self collapses when my child criticises me…. Carl Jung, who did extensive work exploring the human shadow in the 19th century, notes one of the main paradoxes of the shadow as this – that our ego – the parts of ourselves we want to be known by in the world, and our shadow – the parts of ourselves we don’t want people to know about, come from the same place, and that they are entirely equal. They are all legitimate and valuable aspects of our being. The two balance each other, and one cannot exist without the other.