“Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality, and acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life. We meet our dark side, accept it for what it is, and we learn to use its powerful energies in productive ways. The Shadow knows why good people sometimes do “bad” things. Romancing the Shadow and learning to read the messages it encodes in daily life can deepen your consciousness, imagination, and soul.” (Jung, ref. published in 1958).
I would like to focus on ‘authentic living’. Being authentic in how we feel, think and behave is the key to happiness, and the happiness of others. How am I going to justify this? Well, I will start by looking at the behaviour of children at a young age. They have not been taught how to behave in different situations—how to behave with babies, in church, at the doctors, in school, when in trouble, when someone is hurt, on holiday, when meeting someone for the first time, when someone has done something wrong. There thousands of other examples that I might give here. They are conditioned and taught in order to suppress many of their feelings and behaviours. In regard to social identity theory (Henri Tajfel and John Turner), we, many of us, form our identity from perceived membership of a social group. However, we all have identities that are moveable and we act differently in different situations. Perhaps, the more we act in a certain way, the more we are repressing. Put in another way, the more we act, the more we push towards the shadow.
There are some people I know who act like teachers. They have been taught to be teachers, and they have been conditioned to act like teachers. They have done this for so long that they are unable to think or act or behave like themselves. They are lost in their social world, and they have lost touch with their real, instinct self. They wear a teacher mask (a social mask). One can apply this principle to politicians, soldiers, bank managers, born again Christians, and all sorts of different types of people who act within a social format in their home environment. There are some therapists who do this do.
On the first day on the stage 2, Shaun said that, as therapists, we must keep it real. This is 100 percent. We need to explore our shadow, and notice the difference between our pleasure seeking self, our childlike self, and our repressed acting self’. Although that was quite Jungian—incidentally, for a period of over twelve years, he gave pseudonyms to different parts of his body, real of spiritual–using Jungian terminology, we need to know difference between our shadow, our ego and our persona. That sounds difficult to me. Perhaps I could explain it better using Freudian language. If the shadow represents a place where we house our repressed thoughts, feelings and behaviour mechanisms, we need to bring this to the fore—from the pre-conscious into the conscious—come to terms with these internal conflicts and to act on them in order to take care of ourselves, and our needs.
Once we have brought some of this material to the fore, we can be in tune with ourselves and understand ourselves much better—including knowing our intrinsic needs and desires. This will help us to behave, feel and think more authentically as therapists or clients, but most importantly in our everyday lives. The powerful energy that we gain from this investigation, will help us all to take care of ourselves in an appropriate (Jung calls it ‘productive’) way.