The Shadow – A Disruptive Map For Exploring The Unconscious And Revitalizing Your Soul

Recently, I had a very interesting experience with the unconscious that propelled me to write a short manual on shadow assimilation.

I’ll start by sharing it and then analyzing it psychologically.

The Alchemical Book

It’s been 2 years that I’ve been extremely academically driven.

In this whole period, I probably had 10 days off.

So my mind has been operating in a very intellectual mode and has become one-sided over time.

A month ago I started to feel unmotivated and kinda dry.

But I’ve been doing Active Imagination this whole time, so I sat down to understand what was going on.

Then I saw a huge alchemical book, but the pages were kind of shadowy, except for this part that was very well illuminated.

Then I heard that I’ve been focusing on a tiny intellectual part when there’s a whole book to explore.

I had to expand my vision and get in touch with art again.

I asked for help from my guiding figure – a fire dragon – and he transformed himself into a lantern.

I found myself in this dark forest and saw the silhouette of a woman running.

I had to find her.

General Guidelines

Now, every transformative process requires an incubation period, so this is not a one-time thing, but rather the culmination of a long process.

During this time, I’ve been playing my guitar but wasn’t really dedicating myself to it.

I had many sparks of inspiration over the years, but I always felt it to be elusive and fugacious.

So I started to spend more time listening to my soul and allowing it to express itself.

Every day I engaged in Active Imagination and creative endeavors, and each time I understood a different aspect of my relationship with the emotional realm.

When your other side wants to be seen, especially when it relates to the Anima or Animus, you feel this huge pull.

There’s always the temptation to abandon your current values and immerse yourself in the unconscious.

But if this happens, everything is lost and you can be engulfed.

So I knew I had to hold the tension and find the middle ground.

What needs to be transformed is the relationship we have with this other side, we must allow it to come while we maintain a firm conscious ground.

Furthermore, the contents of the unconscious must be understood in a symbolic and metaphorical sense.

So “Art” is really referring to the Eros aspect of life.

It’s a counterbalance to my conscious Logos.

It’s not simply the act of playing music or drawing something, but rather the attitude we possess towards life.

And how we engage with absolutely everything we decide to do, be it relationships, work, or creative endeavors.

Assimilating something means allowing it to transform your whole attitude.

And any kind of self-exploration must be seen as a support to living life more fully and responsibly.

It’s meant to enrich your relationships and give you the inspiration to create a life worth living.

If for any reason, these endeavors are making you withdraw from the external world, filling you with bad emotions and excuses, then something is wrong.

The Internal and external worlds feed off each other. 

And having roots in reality act like a vessel for the unconscious.

You’re only engulfed when you refuse to take responsibility for your life and remain childish.

Or if you don’t take the unconscious seriously.

So when something new arises it’s always weird.

They emerge in an embryonic form, like a little child.

And you have to create a relationship with it and nurture it until it becomes an integral part of your personality.

Within a month, I experienced this huge sense of inspiration taking over me again and a new impulse to life.

But this time, it’s something that belongs to me.

Analytical Interpretation

I realize that this process may sound a bit weird, ethereal, or without any foundation.

So now we’re gonna touch on a few theoretical aspects.

Let’s start with some words of wisdom:

“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected, and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness. At all events, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions”. C. G. Jung – V11 – §131

Conscious Attitude

We have to begin with the most important, yet forgotten, concept in Jungian Psychology: Attitude

The conscious attitude is basically how a person is wired, their basic tendencies, and patterns of behavior.

It’s what drives you and your decisions, which are based on the values you hold in your consciousness.

It’s how one tends to interpret, filter, and react to the world.

For instance:

– Do you apprehend the world from a more spiritual or materialistic perspective?

– Do you have your attention turned to the external world and other people or inward and your inner fantasies?

– Are you more optimistic or pessimistic?

– Are you really fiery and go-getter or more chill and passive?

– Are you really logical and processual or more guided by your feelings?

– Are you more rigid and controlling or flexible and easy-going?

– Are you impulsive or controlled?

– Do you tend to live more in your fantasies or are you really grounded in reality and your 5 senses?

You can also add someone’s beliefs, political views, philosophy of life, habits, and everything you learned with your personal story.

Plus your typology and the eros or logos orientation.

The sum of these different components forms someone’s Conscious Attitude.

Psychodynamics 101

Now, the conscious mind acts by Selecting – Directing – Excluding.

And the conscious attitude is constantly seeking to become more and more focused and specialized.

So its nature is to become one-sided.

This is great because it diminishes the influence of the unconscious, and as humans, we were able to develop the rational mind, control our instincts, and evolve.

However, we can’t forget that the relationship between the conscious and unconscious is compensatory/ complementary.

So everything that is being excluded or repressed by our conscious attitude will fall into the unconscious.

Over time, because of the tendency to become one-sided, more and more contents fall into the unconscious.

But there’s a fundamental problem here, everything that falls prey to the unconscious acquires a compulsive, tyrannical, and even obsessive quality.

The more these contents get repressed, the greater their charge becomes.

Until they can get completely out of control and become autonomous.

This is how Complexes come to be.

There comes a point where the tension is so great that the conscious attitude breaks, and in this moment, neurosis, depression, anxiety, and even psychosis arise.

The solution always lies in establishing a line of communication with the unconscious and learning its symbolic and metaphorical language.

This can be done through therapy, dream analysis, active imagination, writing, or any artistic endeavor.

These contents must be taken seriously, the unconscious wants to be seen.

Once we’re able to understand it, it feels as if a missing piece is finally in place.

The Shadow

So Everything that consciousness judges as inferior, negative, or simply not lived will form the shadow.

And we will always find the contents of the unconscious first projected on the external.

Imagine that person who is constantly getting in trouble with authorities and whines about how everyone wants to make them feel inferior.

Well, chances are that this person has an inner tyrant and also acts in the exact same manner, but is unconscious of it.

Not only that, but this person is also the prey of this inner tyrant.

However, when something is projected it exempts us from dealing with the truth, that what’s projected, in reality, lives within.

Here we arrive at the most important point.

In order to assimilate the Shadow we must take responsibility for it.

Emma Jung used to say that every encounter with the Shadow is an encounter with guilt.

You must stop trying to find someone to blame and realize that you’re the one tyrannizing yourself and other people.

Another aspect is that when something is projected, it’s like you’re delegating something to someone else.

For instance, a lot of people delegate their capacity to make decisions.

This allows them to remain childish and not take responsibility for anything.

And the entrusted person might feel a sense of superiority and control.

The 2 Questions

A good starting point is asking yourself these 2 questions:

What do I hate about other people that gives me a strong emotional reaction?

Or what do I admire about other people?

Try to be as specific as you can, and remember the moments where you had a strong emotional reaction, they act as guides to unconscious parts.

You might encounter some undesirable traits with the first question.

The second might lead you to realize that perhaps you also possess exactly what you admire, but it’s still in an embryonic form.

Through accepting responsibility these contents can become conscious, and then you can transform the relationship with this part of yourself and mature.

The Inner Gold

“If the repressed tendencies, the shadow as I call them, were obviously evil, there would be no problem whatever. But the shadow is merely somewhat inferior, primitive, unadapted, and awkward; not wholly bad. It even contains childish or primitive qualities which would in a way vitalize and embellish human existence, but—convention forbids”. C. G. Jung – V11 – §134

So absolutely everything that our conscious attitude rejects will form the Shadow.

And these are the exact contents we will find in dreams, active imagination, creative endeavors, and through therapy.

These contents have the potential to revitalize our soul, they are the inner gold.

And here’s another key element.

You must transform how you relate to what you judge as inferior.

For instance, an extremely rational person will tend to belittle feelings.

Over time, this part will turn against them and their incapacity to deal with their own emotions will be projected onto others.

However, opening up to the emotional realm is exactly what can revitalize this person.

Feelings only work against you when you refuse to be conscious of them and do everything you can to repress them.

You can also apply this same logic to emotional people who refuse to think.

It’s always a matter of how you relate to these parts.

This will always demand a sacrifice.

In my case, I’m extremely directed by intuition, and part of it must be sacrificed in order for sensation to arise and harmonize my attitude.

Once the contents that have been repressed are accepted, life can flow again.

You find the missing piece, and now you must create a relationship with it and allow it to grow until it becomes an integral part of your personality.

I hope you enjoyed this one!

If you want to enhance your understanding of this topic I recommend reading – How To Do Shadow Work – Demystifying Complexes.

Rafael Krüger 

Engage with this post on Reddit HERE

If you learned all of that with a single post, imagine what you can learn in a proper and well-structured course.

Start your journey with Katabasis – The step-by-step shadow integration manual

Katabasis – The Shadow Integration Manual

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