Shadow Work

Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Jason Harris

My Tattoo

I believe beauty often comes from ashes (or shadows). I paid for the rights to the picture of a post describing this, which was also the basis for a tattoo I received in June of 2021 on my left shoulder. It is a phoenix looking forward, emerging from flames. There is a yin/yang theme, and if one looks close, also a stork looking backwards. Both signs of birth/rebirth. There are two crescent shapes on each edge, symbolizing to me two “C”s. “Compassionate Curiosity” (something I also posted about before). Visible if I am looking at it in a mirror or not. Also important to me in this is the symbol of shadow work. All of this framed into a circle… also very meaningful to me. Light can only exist because of dark, and vice-versa. Conjoined. Integrated.

In my last post, I mentioned the paradox between accepting myself as enough vs. encountering “blind spots” in areas that clearly can be improved upon… and in recognizing these, am I ever then “enough”??. If the goal is to be rid of all “blind spots” to not have any flaws… then NO… none of us ever are. However, I don’t think this paradigm of perfection is helpful, realistic or healthy.

Another way of thinking of these “blind spots” may be to consider them as “shadows.” Carl Jung talked about Shadow work, encountering those parts of ourselves that are largely unconscious, repressed or suppressed. Often our internal “demons.” Often visible to us only as our projections of faults we despise in ourselves onto other. Often labeled by segments of society as “bad” (though not always). Many shadows are there precisely because they are the shadow of a pillar or pillars of strength. Often the bigger the strength(s), the bigger the accompanying shadow(s).

I want to start more fully viewing and framing my own life this way. To more compassionately see and recognize my shadows. My unconscious. And more fully integrate them into my consciousness, into full and total being. This doesn’t mean allowing them to control me. But realizing the strengths or opposite sides of the coin these shadows frequently stem from I think can help to also accept the shadows more compassionately. Not labeled as bad or good… just that they exist. And to try to navigate life in a manner that minimizes harm and maximizes health and benefit to self and others in the process.

If I can frame life and my own psyche more often as the sum total being this way… both the shadow along with the pillar(s) of strength that help form that shadow… well… that total package IS enough…

Paradoxical self-love work. Shadow Work. Second half of life stuff.

Jason Harris lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. He writes about his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. He believes there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.