Scenes from the first day in Sydney

Scenes from the first day in Sydney
D, the Opera House, and the Bridge

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just What Is Shadow Work Anyway?

So, these past several posts refer to work with our shadows, but what am I really talking about? Using terms taken from Jungian psychology, I am referring to the disowned aspects and dimensions of our personalities that we tend to hide and repress in order to present instead our preferred characteristics. Our preferred characteristics become a sort of persona or mask-- By mask, I am not suggesting that these characteristics are false, but simply that they are not the whole story of who we are. A few brief words on the premises of this presentation:

Psychology and Spirituality

Psychology and Spirituality as complimentary so long as we are willing to hold the both/and complimentarity of nature and grace. While psychology will never totally comprehend, let alone explain our spiritual lives, it can nonetheless shed some valuable light on our experience.
There will always be limits to any psychological theory, just as there are limits in theology and spirituality.

Jung on the Spiritual Journey of the Self

• The spiritual maturation of the self is a process of evolving integration of opposites, i.e. masculine (animus) & feminine (anima) qualities, and persona & shadow.
• Self-realization leads to self-transcendence (not selfishness)
• The persona is the idealized self that we prefer the world sees
• The shadow contains the mirror qualities of the persona, disowned and dis-identified, left in our blind-spot, though very influential on us and on our relationships.

Personal reflection and Exercise

Identify the characteristics of your persona and of your shadow (to the best of your ability); Describe the traits of one person who tends to “get under your skin.”

My persona, the characteristics that I prefer people to see in me:

My shadow, the mirroring characteristics that I know I would prefer people not see:

While the shadows described above are the ones we know about already, in order to illuminate the shadows in our “blind spot, “ describe the characteristics of just one person who “gets under your skin.”

Stay tuned for the next couple of posts and feel free to comment/ask questions.

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