“There is no generally effective technique for assimilating the shadow… it is always an individual matter. First, one has to accept and take seriously the existence of the shadow. Second, one has to become aware of its qualities and intentions. This happens through conscientious attention to moods, fantasies and impulses. Third, a long process of negotiation is unavoidable.”
In other words, our Shadow is unique to each of us; thus, we must adopt our own unique approach when it comes to properly integrating it with our conscious self. It may seem counterproductive, but it is necessary to behave in ways that run in contrast to the customs of society and even our own moral compass. It makes sense when you think about it, since most of our shadow qualities were repressed into our subconscious because we believed or were taught that they were unacceptable, either socially or according to our family and peers.
Despite it being an individual matter, there are common techniques that tend to work, such as finding a healthy, productive, or controlled outlet for either repressed aggression or sexual urges. Another is to ignore customs one had previously thought to be superficial or pointless yet had still conformed to in order to fit in. One I highly recommend, which can tie into the first example, is pursuing a passion despite others around you pressuring you otherwise.
These tactics will help to separate oneself from the expectations and watchful eyes of others, allowing us to truly look within, without judgement or condemnation, to discover who and what we really are as living beings. In doing this, we are negotiating with the shadow, by allowing it to live in our conscious personality without shame or fear, instead of repressing it. After this, one will not only attain a more secure sense of selfhood, but also more knowledge about oneself and what it is one really wants in life.
The thoughts and opinions of others will have far less of an impact, if any, on what we do with our lives. Ignoring what others think we should be doing better prepares us to commence on a path to fulfil our own personal destiny.
In all honesty, the integration process is much easier said than done. By no means does it happen overnight. It’s a daily practice one must constantly be aware of, until it becomes natural, where you suddenly realize how content you are with yourself and life. The opinions of others will always come up, but their words enter your head and immediately leave without bringing up any sort of emotion, because it truly doesn’t matter what they think, as long as you are in harmony with your sense of self.
Even if anxiety has gotten the best of you as a result of a fear of being judged, keeping you stuck in a shell of isolation in social situations, terrified of speaking your mind, the truth of the matter is… nobody is sitting there, thinking, judging you. We are so much alike as humans and all share the same internal issues. Others are too busy thinking under the same fears to be thinking about you. And if they are judging you in a negative way, realize that they have not begun to integrate their own repressed shadow, and are suffering inside. Have empathy and show sympathy when appropriate.
I’d like to conclude this with a quote from Connie Zwerg, found in her book “Meeting the Shadow”:
“When there is an impasse, and sterile time in our lives—despite an adequate ego development—we must look to the dark, hitherto unacceptable side which has been at our conscious disposal… Only when we realize that part of ourselves which we have not hitherto seen or preferred not to see can we proceed to question and find the sources from which it feeds and the basis in which it rests. Hence, no progress or growth is possible until the shadow is adequately confronted and confronting means more than merely knowing about it. It is not until we have truly been shocked into seeing ourselves as we really are, instead of as we wish or hopefully assume we are, that we take the first step toward individual reality.”