Destructiveness and Shadow Material
How do you work with the energy of your Shadow material without having it destroy the life you’ve built up? You will eventually need to engage with the disown projected aspect of yourself and if not, it will eventually engage you in some very unpleasant ways. For example, the more one denies their Shadow material, the more ready one is to find the quality and others. In the Box on the next page is an illustration of William a teacher a male teacher who began dating Barbara who is the female artist. William had been in a previous relationship that did not work out very well partly because he was quite controlling and had a pretty bad anger problem. Barbara had also been in a previous marriage relationship to a man who was a hard-working guy but whom she found critical and boring. Satisfied with her marriage, Barbara distanced herself from her husband and found a sympathetic ear in her new teacher friend, William. As you read through the description try to figure out what William might need to work on in himself.
William, a respected teacher, started to date Barbara, an attractive local artist. At first, William listened intently to Barbara and the attraction and fantasy grew for both. However, as William began to experience deeper emotional connection his fears increased and his shadow material began to emerge in full force. William was fearful that ‘others’ close to him would ‘control’ his life, completely unconscious of his own tendency to ‘control’. William soon began to feel very angry towards Barbara when she would suggest that they go to see certain movies. He did not call her after this and the relationship dissolved. William projected onto Barbara his shadow material of wanting his own way. He despised Barbara for wanting to have her way in selecting a movie and he was not aware of this quality in himself.
The more we hide from or refuse honest feedback from others, the less we know and understand ourselves. None of us know ourselves completely. Whatever is incomplete or unfinished in our own development is bound to be projected onto others with whom we will react according to our script which casts others into specific roles. The ability to be objective about oneself and accept criticism about oneself from others may be one of the most important skills in life and certainly in human relationships. Everything else hinges on this.
Until we confront and befriend our shadow material, we will continue to live with the illusion of virtue and righteousness. We remain vulnerable to the damage of marriage, family, work, love and important friendships. Unless honesty with oneself is valued more than being “good”, secure, successful or accepted, more than any other value, one is destined to live a life of self-deception, full of hidden self inflation, and programmed for Self Defeat.
Shadow Material in a nutshell:
- Disowned aspects of the self (disconnected, repressed, regressed, split-off, or despised).
- Projecting onto others (which we then feel angry at or critical toward).
- Unconscious or subconscious (we are not aware that we have done this).
- Anger and critical feelings point directly to Shadow Material.
- Opportunity to re-integrate the healthy essence of the disowned part of the self.