Comedian Dylan Moran observed that in the United States, positivity has reached pathological levels.
We so frequently frame our joys and successes in material or commercial terms; that we are unable to look inward and see “what we want” as a separate category from “what we are told we want based on outside interests.” Thus, the object and goal of our pursuits becomes an absence of pain, eliminating the negative, and freedom from bad thoughts. We want to effectively cut away any part of ourselves or our lives that links to negativity. That is a shallow understanding of the negative.
Consider a photographic negative.
The colors are reversed, and the figures look strange; but they are the same figures from which beautiful pictures develop. Carl Jung referred to our darker nature as “The Shadow.” If it is ignored or denied, it will rise up and shriek louder in order to be heard. It is our job not to free ourselves from it, but to identify, understand, and transform it. I’m sure you’ve heard over and over that you can’t recognize pleasure without experiencing pain, and other similar expressions. That is the key to wholeness.
You cannot escape darkness, the negative, the shadow; but you are not powerless. You can meet it for coffee. You can treat it to a garden picnic. It can be a powerful tool for building bridges and developing empathy. Learn from it and understand it as you would a beloved friend with whom you agree to disagree.
As a writer, a warrior, a healer, the shadow is there for your use. It will be there to teach you and complete you, forever.
“[The shadow] is thus combated, punished, and exterminated as ‘the alien out there’ instead of being dealt with as one’s own inner problem.”
– Erich Neumann
“Everyone who believes in the devil is the devil.”
– Rob Brezsny
See also: Shadow School
See also: upcoming radio play, Unfortunate Demonic Incident No. 271
See also: Happy Halloween