Shadow Work

My spiritual journey recently led to an exercise exploring my “Shadow”- a Jungian term for repressed weaknesses in the unconscious mind.  The older I get & the more educated I become, the less comfortable I am with any attempt  by “experts” such as psychologists, politicians, religious leaders, or scientists to put people into tidy little boxes of “good versus evil”, “us versus them”, or “strength versus weakness”.  We’re too complex for that.  Besides, no one can agree on what is “good” or who exactly is “us”.  (This is a topic for a book not a blog post!)

My limited research into Jungian psychology revealed too many conflicting opinions to be of much value so suffice it to say, I’m ending this exercise knowing that “shadow” isn’t a term I want to use to describe my Self.  It’s impossible to identify most character traits as exclusively strengths or weaknesses for strengths can be weaknesses and weaknesses can be strengths depending on the circumstances.  For example, look at how independence can give someone the courage to act on a dream or alienate someone when it masks vulnerability.

For that reason, I created this watercolor of myself, facing the dark with feet planted firmly in the light, embracing both the light & the shadow equally in my hands.  Embracing all qualities that make me uniquely ME.  Jung can keep his labels.  The only label I’ll use for my Self is “Pure Susan”.

Embracing the light & the shadow in equal measures

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