We all have a dark side. A side of us that is less than flattering. A side of us that can be rude, even offensive, and most definitely one that shows prejudice. This dark side is an aspect of the ego that, in moments of insecurity, brings others down to build itself up. Politics is filled with “shadows.” So is the workplace environment. Renowned psychologist Carl Jung referred to this aspect of ourselves as “The Shadow.” In moments of stress many people exploit their shadow. Abdicating the driver seat, they let the ego careen out of control with rude comments, racial slurs, inappropriate gestures and other less than civil behaviors that end up only causing more stress. These are NOT proud moments, but sadly, they are quite common in the human condition.Carl Jung was an advocate of embracing the shadow, not exploiting it. Through his writings and lectures he encouraged people to engage in personal reflection. In doing so, one examines these thoughts, feelings and behaviors and reflects on shedding light on this dark corner of the mind to raise one’s consciousness. This reflection process must be a daily event. It was his belief that by embracing the shadow; moving from a place of fear to love, one would train the ego to work through stress and rise above it.
Stress Tip for the Day:
How do you embrace your shadow? You can begin with a regular meditation practice. Learn to observe your thoughts, your feelings and reflect on past situations with a detached ego. What did you do? Why did you do it? Why did you REALLY do it? What was the underlying intention? What can you learn from it? How can you stop yourself from repeating this behavior? Embracing the ego does not mean to beat yourself up for past behaviors. It means to domesticate the ego so that you can learn from these experiences and move on. Much like polishing a gemstone, there is friction in the observations and pain in the remembrance of our less than desirable behaviors. But when a gemstone is polished, is a beautiful sight to behold. Take time today (and everyday) to embrace your shadow. In doing so you will find a deep-seated comfort that will prove immeasurable the rest of your life.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
If you wish to read more about the concept of the shadow, here are a few more links:
Quote for the Day:
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything; no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” —Carl Gustav Jung
Photo for the Day:
Perhaps there is no better metaphor for the shadow than a lunar eclipse. This series of photos was taken last December during the early morning lunar eclipse, where Earth’s shadow covered the moon. Enjoy!
PS. Even the earth’s shadow over the moon is very brief.
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the forthcoming, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.