Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

When the Shadow Appears

Psychological Perspectives


November 30, 2017

Photo provided

Ken Silvestro, PhD

Previous articles described the dark side of the personality or the shadow. Since each person possesses a personal and collective psychology, the shadow has two forms: the personal and the collective. Remember that the collective psychology refers to social and group membership.

Earlier articles also presented the idea of meeting the shadow and building a relationship with it to diminish its power, which means that the shadow would be less likely to be expressed unconsciously (from a person's hidden psychology). A person who has a relationship with the shadow has the ability to express it rather than simply react from it in situations. This is the best we can do, however, we do need to continually look for new ways to recognize the shadow and build a greater relationship to it. This is necessary for both the collective and personal shadows.

It is important to know that even when we meet the shadow and diminish its power, the shadow still maintains some strength and automatic expression (unconscious expression). So, the shadow can still become active and express itself from an unconscious level.

When this happens, we are surprised and don't know where this darker side came from or how we could express such aggressive or demeaning gestures. Proof of these expressions, even when a person has built a relationship with the shadow, is evident when the shadow appears. Let me use myself as an example.

Recently, I attended a community meeting. As different members of the community were expressing points and presenting data related to the issues, insensitive comments were rudely spoken by members of the audience. When I began presenting information to the community, the audience continued to repeat these comments.

Suddenly, my shadow made an unannounced and spontaneous appearance, and I reacted to the audiences' insensitivity from my unconscious shadow. My ability to maintain the frustration I was experiencing and meet my shadow in this experience did not occur. As a result, the shadow was triggered and I was no longer myself; it took over my personality and the shadow expressed itself through me. Soon, the shadow became inactive and unconscious once again.

It's important to realize that personal development and growth are necessary and wonderful. Both contribute to the creation of a better society and healthier people. Nevertheless, the shadow and other unconscious elements still exist and sometimes they might slip out when we're not expecting it.


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