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Heart & Soul Counseling Publications

The Human Shadow
by Tina Calabrese, LCSW

A psychoanalyst named Carl Jung who studied with Freud was one of the first to identify the human shadow. The shadow is a part of us that is often hidden. Its like a secret you don't want to tell yourself. There is shame and humiliation about the shadow. The shadow is a reflection of the self that is looked at as dark and negative. Quite often it involves charcteristics that are judged by society. Some of these may be a perceived greed, selfishness, cheapness or a general list of things you think badly of.

The shadow is the reason we "project" or put onto someone else these negative characteristics. When projection occurs and re-occurs the shadow is forced to remain deeply embedded in our consciousness. This can cause you to scapegoat others or a particular group.

Literature has defined the human shadow through characters. Think of the kind and caring Dr. Jekyll and the deformed Mr. Hyde. Although they are opposite they are the same person.

"Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us. We could add that it may move to a distant place and begin a revolt against us as well"
—Robert Bly

If you find yourself pointing the finger at someone consider looking inward and asking yourself if this is the projection of your shadow side. If it is admit it and be compassionate toward yourself. This will help you change and modify your behaviors. Remember to look at yourself if you are feeling intense anger toward someone. Ask yourself if this person has the characteristics that you dislike in yourself. Then see if you are scapegoating them. If you are then you are feeding the shadow.

As a human being you are not expected to be perfect. Once you know the parts of yourself you don't like you can work toward not being defensive and owning them. Then you can let them go and move on. You may find you become more compassionate and tolerant of others.  ■

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