The Spirit Of Therapy Blog
Our culture today revolves around action and progress. Technology and industry are growing rapidly and changing our world along with them. It seems as if everyone is trying to get somewhere else, be someone else, achieve something else. We value progress…in our world, in ourselves and in others. Yet, this leaves little room for acceptance and perhaps, contentedness.
Few people seem to be content with who they are in this moment, where they are and what they have. They act as if they are deficient. Not enough.
I see this every week in my office. People who feel they aren’t smart enough, talented enough, loved enough, worthy enough. People who feel their partners or children aren’t behaved enough, attentive enough, etc. Yet, what they are really telling me is that they don’t want to feel stupid, dull, or rejected. They don’t want their partners and children to be naughty, selfish or clueless. And the list of “defects” that we don’t want ourselves or others to be can go on and on. How scary. How daunting. How exhausting!
These “defects” that we desperately try to ignore can plague us. They can make us feel vulnerable, guilty, bad and abnormal. Yet, if all of us experience these shadows, doesn’t that make us …well, normal?
Carl Jung wrote extensively about our “shadow” side. Jung believed that the shadow consisted of all of those thoughts, feelings, behaviors and desires that we try to ignore or push away. They are the parts of ourselves that we think are bad or unacceptable. Some of us go to great lengths to disassociate ourselves with the shadow. Yet, what is pushed down, Jung said, will come up eventually.
This process is highlighted in the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Dr. Jekyll was a kind and loving doctor who found a way to transform himself into an opposite personality, Mr. Hyde, who was entirely without a moral compass. Dr. Jekyll was then leading a double life. One side of him was empathetic and ethical and the other murdered and manipulated.
Jung implied that we are all like Dr. Jekyll. We all have desires, urges, thoughts and instincts that we repress and detest even though we may not act on them. In Jung’s opinion, we must reconcile ourselves to the shadow. We must recognize and accept this part of ourselves as normal in order to maintain control over it.
What aspects of yourself do you see as defective? What thoughts, desires or “defects” do you try to ignore or suppress? This week, take a peak at your shadow. Begin an acquaintance with the side of yourself that you reject. The first step to accepting yourself is realizing that you are much more than you thought you were.
The Spirit of Therapy
Where psychotherapy interacts with our mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and relational wellbeing.