Saturday, August 12, 2006

Required Reading: Meeting The Shadow

I love to read. The more I read, though, the more disappointed I am. I will pick up these books with great concepts and then feel empty as if the author didn't fulfill the promise.

On the other hand, sometimes I come across a book that resonates so deeply with me that I'm in awe. I'm in awe that I found the book, and I'm in awe that the book has the power to enlighten me to a new way of thinking.

This is one of those books. It is 15 years old, but I just found it in a used bookstore. The full title is, "Meeting the shadow: The hidden power of the dark side of human nature" It's an anthology of stories about 'the shadow' or unconscience.

Carl Jung is heavily referenced in this book as is Robert Louis Stevenson.

Carl Jung once said, "I would rather be whole than good." As someone who is constantly striving to 'Be good', I did not understand that concept. Fortunately, an editor of this collection (Connie Zweig) has a metaphysical p.o.v. and she said the same thing, but explained why.

Connie says, "My mother pointed out some twenty years ago, in the height of my spiritual grandiosity, that I was good at loving humanity but not so good at loving individual human beings. With the gradual acceptance of the darker impulses within me, I feel a more genuine compassion growing in my soul."

I am only on page 35 of 305 pages, but here's what has resonated with me:

When you're a child, your self is whole - good and bad. As you're growing up, parents are correcting you, friends are shaping you, and you learn what behavior and feelings are not acceptable and you move them into your unconscience.

You deny the 'unacceptable feelings'.

As an adult, the people who irritate you the most are the people who have the traits that you yourself have but that you've denied. You recognize it in others but not in yourself.

On a personal note my BIGGEST pet peeve is highly critical people. They can't just say 'good job' - they always have to note how you could've been better. When I started reading this book, it was like the light went off and I realize that I am the same way- I just haven't noticed it in myself. I think to myself that I'm just being 'helpful'... This book helped me realize my own shadows. I can now understand why I react so harshly to criticism and I am more aware of when I'm being unnecessarily critical of others.

The danger of not being aware of your shadow is that eventually it will catch up with you... you have to know it's there to restrain it...

of course the essays in this book are much more poetic about it... If you click on the link above, you can read an excerpt.

1 comment:

Synchronicity Evangelist said...

So very beautiful!