Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Shadow Effect - reflections

 "Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."
   Carl Jung

"You must go into the dark in order to bring forth your light. When we suppress any feeling or impulse, we are also suppressing its polar opposite. If we deny our ugliness, we lessen our beauty. If we deny our fear, we minimize our courage. If we deny our greed, we also reduce our generosity. Our full magnitude is more than most of us can ever imagine.”   

  Debbie Ford

I was remembering "The Shadow Effect"  (see trailer  below about the movie), which was mostly narrated by, and based on, the work of psychologist Debbie Ford, who wrote "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers", a book I've liked since I discovered it in the late 90's.  I enjoyed the movie, particularly the appearances of Deepak Chopra and James Van PraaghI admire Debbie Ford's work, although I have to confess, all that hugging in the workshops would no doubt drive me up a wall.  I'm just not a hugger.  And sometimes I get annoyed by the "do these exercises, make this realization, and you'll fulfill your destiny and be all you can be" idea..........I don't really believe in destiny any more, and trying to "be all you can be" can have some serious setbacks, like exhaustion, arrogance, and self-delusion. Which is "shadow", now that I think about it.   Sometimes the prize is not about getting richer, more love, or a better job, not about "getting" anything - it's about deepening our souls, and in the end, that's all that matters.  But I'm a crank sometimes, and what this movie has to say is  nevertheless vital, pragmatically, personally, and collectively, because it's about the essence of integral consciousness.

"The well of your joy is as deep as the well of your sorrow" 

 Kalil Gibran

 I've often written about the importance of the The Dark Goddess, and the importance of the Dark Goddess to all of planetary life now.  In other words, it's urgent that we develop true compassion for ourselves, and thus, each other, holistic compassion.    As individuals, the scales of Maat tip when too much of ourselves are unconscious, hidden away in the so-called "shadow" aspects of psyche. That's the true meaning of balance.
 Perhaps I should begin with one of my own "shadow" aspects, the "victim" archetype. I felt like sharing the following quote from Carolyn Myss because I agree with some (not all)  of her observations about what she called "woundology".
"One day, in passing, I introduced a friend of mine to two gentlemen I was talking with.  Within two minutes, my friend managed to let these men know that she was an incest survivor. Her admission had nothing whatsoever to do with the conversation we'd been having, and what I realized was that she was using her wounds as leverage. She had defined herself by a negative experience.  In workshops and in daily life I saw that, rather than working to get beyond their wounds, people were using them as social currency.  They were confusing the therapeutic value of self-expression with permission to manipulate others or define themselves with their wounds. Who would want to leave that behind? Health never commands so much clout!"

Carolyn Myss,  Why People Don't Heal and How They Can
  I want to comment first, as she does, that actual victimization, and the psychic wounds that arise from these experiences, should not be negated, nor should the "blame the victim" phenomenon ever be allowed to occur  Further, a sense of victimhood can be learned from our parents, and can have roots that extend far back into family and cultural history.  Having said that, I also believe, from my own experience in therapy, that healing and self-understanding comes from being able to tell our painful stories, and by the telling we can integrate those stories into the larger story, developing compassion for ourselves and strength from those experiences.  We "fore-give", and move fore-ward.  The question of whether this role is a shadow issue arises when one lingers in the role of "victim" because it is familiar, and more importantly, it has great power because it  allows one to avoid responsibility for anything, and even provides a kind of social currency with others. To put it another way - you can't win with such  a "victim".

In the past few years,  entering my 60's and becoming a SAGA (no "crone" for me.  Saga is so much better, a Finnish derived word that means both "old woman"  and "long story") I've been noticing how much the "victim" or "wounded" archetype has big real estate in our world, as well as my own past persona.  It's a shadow aspect that is rarely spoken about, because, frankly, it has so much leverage and ambiguity attached to it.  I've also had to notice that there are individual interactions with people and groups that are about supporting each other's insecurities - and success, leadership, or individual accomplishments can be punishable by ostracism.  Believe me, I've been in circles with "victims" (myself included) that could deflate any natural leader or brilliant contributor in no time flat, and continually reduced the group to a comfy  "circle of mediocrity". 

Shadow Work is harsh.  I think a stubbornly internalized and unrealized  need to retain the role of  "victim" is on the same page as the unconscious need to dis-empower or denigrate the perceived gifts and strengths of others.  We cannot afford to genuinely victimize ourselves by clinging to the exhaustive role of  "victim" at a certain point in the quest for maturity - equally, we cannot afford to "make ourselves small" and hide our light so that others will "like" us, nor unconsciously coerce this tyranny on others so we won't feel "threatened".  Empowerment is like the symbol of the Tree of Life - as above, so below, as without, so within. The roots run deep, into dark waters.

 "He governs the flowing of all waters, and the ebbing, the courses of all rivers and the replenishment of springs, the distilling of all dews and rain in every land beneath the sky.  In the deep places, He gives thought to music great and terrible; and the echo of that music runs through all the veins of the world in sorrow and in joy; for if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomed at the foundations of the Earth."   J.R.R. Tolkein, "The Silmarillion"


Valerianna said...

Great post. I, too, can find myself rolling my eyes at some of the new agey stuff like the film, The Secret. It has great information and truth, but sells the idea that we are capable of achieving any dream and if we don't, we aren't working with the laws of attraction well. These things are so complex AND so simple, both/and. And, haha about the hugging. I'm a hugger, but recently someone was telling me about a gathering they went to where people were invited to share deeply and others were witnessing. In order to show appreciation for what others said without speaking, they used twinkle fingers. Man, I lost it with the eye rolling. I was pleased that I had chosen not to go. IDK, something about that just made me cringe! Maybe its like over-hugging for you.

lauren raine said...

Thanks Valerianna. I think the Secret has done a great deal of harm, and is also part of the mercenary, even sociopathic, aspects of our materialistic society. There are billions and billions of people who live in terrible circumstance and poverty, and it doesn't matter how much they "think prosperity" they are not going to manifest it. We are all part of the great organism of the planet, and of each other, and the Secret only seems to me like a new form of Ann Rand's social Darwinism. If you are impoverished, it's somehow your fault and not my problem because you don't "think right".

What ever happened to "love thy neighbor as thyself"?

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Terrific post, Lauren! But the video didn't come up for me,