Author: Eddie Vela, September 2021
Many great thinkers have described a duality that permeates through the fabric of existence. If we look at nature and contemplate on the laws that govern, we come to realize that there is a particular law that manifests itself in twos. The Law of Dualities. The Sun is the source that gives light but brings with it a darkness when it casts a shadow. And following, the nighttime and all its darkness there is a light that is emitted by the moon—reflecting the Suns Light—to remind us that one cannot exist without the other. When there is Darkness there will always be a Light; and when there is Light there will always be Darkness. Everything in Nature has its counterpart. Everything that manifests come as a pair of opposites. And such as nature has its counter parts, so does humanity. We are a part of that nature, so the law applies to humanity. But more specifically for the topic at hand— so does every individual.
There are two psychological aspects that we embody consciously and unconsciously, and that is what Jung called the persona and the shadow. The great philosopher Plato talks about this duality before even the time of Jung, in his book Republic, describing, “There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.” The great thinkers of the past realized these two aspects, but Jung is who took it to the level where we can all benefit from and have words to describe these natures. We cultivate particularities at a young age that make us unique little monsters, and as we grow, we also begin to develop a conscious ego and sense of self. This sense of self simultaneously becomes the ideal and a judge. We become conscious to what kind of individual we want to be—or should be— and what are the characteristics of a reprehensible person. The beginnings of Two psychological systems are produced, the persona and the shadow.
The shadow begins to form at a very early age and some of our qualities and characteristics bring forth negative feedback from our family, peers or random strangers who we might have a confrontation with. In addition, some of those qualities tend to have a negative connotation in the broader society at large. Therefore, the negative feedback from others makes us conclude that such qualities are destructive, thus giving us this sense of inadequacy, shame, guilt and if exercised only inflict negative emotion and anxiety. This sense of awareness simultaneously becomes the ideal and a judge. This forces us to eliminate the emotion by adapting to our surrounding environment and therefore, we are then forced to repress the character qualities and make them unworthy in our character. We stockpile the undesirable qualities in the only place we know (do not know)—the unconscious. Therefore, behind the mask that everyone displays in the social world, lies a being that has destructive tendencies and impulses.
Some of these common repressed qualities that move into the individual's unconscious is Lust; the intense animal sexual desire that must be tempered. Anger: that must be controlled. Greed: Being mindful when it is time to say enough is enough and moderating. Resentment: having the strength to be honest, when necessary, no matter how painful. Immediate conflict for long term peace. Other qualities are, Weaknesses in the individual. This is experienced when we tend to hide our weaknesses and coward-ness from others. More so when you're a little boy and trying to be the toughest one out of the gang made up of the other idiot males. While most of the qualities that we deem unfit to project into a society, some strengths mistaken as faults are thrown into the unconscious as well but, the sources of renewal are to be found in the qualities that were cast away throughout and in the beginning of an individual's life. The answer to some of lives conundrums are in the places where you would least want to look. Some attitudes must be mediated perhaps by a quality that was once repressed. This repression of the undesirable qualities or rather Denial of the negative qualities, does not make them simply disappear but rather amalgamate to finally create what Jung called The Shadow.
The Shadow is finally made by everything that was rejected—continues to be rejected— and darker side of The Ego. The Shadow—as Jung described it; is the unconscious aspect of the personality. The Part that is instinctive and irrational. The parts of you that have not been explored or refused to be explored. The Shadow, therefore, is everything outside of the light of consciousness. Because it remains unconfronted—and is the least desired area to explore in an individual's personality—the shadow in large part is all the negative aspects of the unconscious personality. Or, as Erich Neumann wrote, “The shadow are all those qualities, capacities and tendencies which do not harmonize with the collective values. As the shadow is the darker side of the Unconscious Ego or everything the ego is unable to recognize and unable to associate it with its personality.” The shadow is the monster you wish to not ever become, but it is the monster you confront willingly and must become the master of.