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Psychiatrist and author Dr. R.D. Laing writes about a side of our self called the “shadow:”
“The range of what we think and do
is limited by what we fail to notice.
And because we fail to notice
that we fail to notice
there is little we can do
until we notice
how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
The “shadow” represents the dark side of our self or personality. By nature, it hides in the unconscious, which explains why it’s often unnoticed.
One time, I paid Mila, a client in marital therapy with her husband, a compliment.
I said, “You’re looking better and doing well.” And instantly she stopped me, “Doc, don’t.”
Mila found it difficult to accept a compliment. She played down the importance what good she’s having or capable of.
Of course, she had not been aware of why she’d do that. In therapy, she experienced the freedom of being in a privileged place to meet her shadow.
To heal a damaged self, it’s urgent to be able to take the dark side into account. Process it, embrace and integrate it, and transcend it into the consciousness.
If the shadow is ignored or denied, one exposes himself or herself to all kinds of dysfunctions and dangers:
Depression. Addictions. Illness. Relationship problems. Accidents. Panic anxiety. Obsessive compulsions. Self sabotage. And ... many more.