Part 1: Observation
The first step when it comes to shadow work is to first: simply understand its infrastructure and how the process of the shadow works…
The shadow contains the dark aspects of the psyche which we have repressed over the continuity of our existence, parts of ourselves which we have made unconscious, the reason for the shadow is based on many influences such as: the cultural morality, social communications, relationships with family and friends, all of these come under the general realm of subjective social experience in the world.
As emotions and practices of humankind are objective realities – dependant on cultural history – the social norm develops overtime becoming the general and usually mediocre understanding of how to exist within a particular state of time, thus, with reverence towards innumerable degrees of negativity which in itself is influenced by the will and thus collective force, pins down on any experiences which are deemed to have been first experienced as insufficient in relation to the normative culture and its degrees of influence. Humans generally don’t like to culminate on negativity so we tend to push such forces into the dark because we are told to and it makes us feel better to ignore something then to deal with it, not only are we pushing away the instant threat which stares us in the face but also its potentiality for self development.
As everything has an opposite it is not always the case that a book should be judged by its cover with regards to what has been placed within the shadow, in this case, it is most important to read the books or shadow material present as it will give all its manifest information and diversity, and thus, one will come to find how divergent it all truly is, not just the simple definition of a simple label which society commands, but still, it is difficult to judge anything without opinionated subjectivity, thus, for me I have come to find that a what you could call: “detached” observation can be of use to observe the negativities of the spirit of the age, this can be of use to (if you will) “observe from the spirit of a non-judgemental eye”, not associated to the persona, the ego or subjective experience, to expound ones will into a singular vessel for the observation of what is deemed good and bad, to as Nietzsche refers: go beyond good and evil for the sake of self dependency, to not rely on what is told to us but to try and feel out the truth through our consciousness.
Part 2: Infinite Opposition:
It is true that there are polar opposites in all of existence, but I think there are also polar opposites that work for infinity within the opposites themselves, if you take a simple dichotomy, such as: anger and calm, most people would deem anger as negative within our social framework because they have been given a mediocre teaching of the degrees of human expression, therefore we usually repress anger with complete distaste, but, as there are opposites within everything, it is not the case at all that anger is just negative but that it holds both opposing poles. Resilience, strength, leadership, confidence and direction are some very strong, powerful and affirmative attributes that are good for the soul which can be pulled out of such an emotional expression such as aggression which that are extremely beneficial, but, as we come to see, the impractical aspects of anger are used as a deterrent so that we psychologically repress and hold are nose to all the possibilities that encompass the emotional expression of what we call anger, thus we cannot, or at least struggle, to attain said virtues that are present in those emotional expressions.
To give an example with the idea of anger: you might be feeling angry after a confrontation with somebody who you knew were wrong in their judgement, afterwards you would be muttering words under your breath in frustration, they asserted their opinion and you failed to respond adequately, thus you ask yourself: why am I doing this, why do I feel like this? If you are being honest you’d say: because I am not strong? Why are you not strong? Because I am not affirmative, I do not lead with strength, Why? Because I have repressed Aggression! I don’t like using its potential for good, to serve my own being, because I was always told it was negative. From this you use that understanding to ask yourself: How? How can I integrate it properly to lead myself with confidence and conviction.
Many get confused with the shadow and think it is someone who actively integrates the bad characteristics of themselves because its called the shadow and about the realisation of evil, but its not, its based on opposites and the only way in trying to become well rounded is to not ignore anything but accept all parts of yourself as real and possible, it has got nothing to do with becoming a spiteful, abusive animal, think of it in terms of joining a strongman championship, you have to be dangerous to be a strongman, to enter into such a competition you have to be extremely powerful, just because this athlete has the potential for danger doesn’t mean he is a bad person, just because you are powerful doesn’t means you are a bad person, depending on his virtues and morals he can be a strong force for good, just like partaking in shadow work, you plough through a more mental then physical exercise so that you can become powerful internally and externally, a force for good that understands evil and does not partake in it.
Part 3: The Collective
What is not talked about often is how the shadow exists in much more then just the individual psyche, you do I think have something such as: The Collective Shadow, which I think is dependant on cultural history within particular countries, how what happens in the past reconfigures the social norm when it comes to reactionary processes, one possible example could be how the French revolution did not place the spectral expression of aggression into the collective shadow, hence why the people of France are more likely to protest then other countries in Europe, for example: there was a massive protest in France a couple of days ago over a security law. They express their opinion with conviction, confidence and strength, obviously its not all based on this idea of the shadow, there are reasons for protests and reasons for anger but what it shows is that that form of action and expression itself did not become something that would get repressed into the collective abyss, depending on a countries history there is a collective degree to how far a response will go depending on if such and such has fallen into the repressed shadow or not, for example: I presume that many post-soviet union countries would as a collective be much more conforming due to their past history.
Part 4: The Personal Subjective
I think extroverts naturally find it more difficult with shadow work because introversion is the only necessary way to identify projections, but, I think this is really when you have gotten to the core of its infrastructure: when you are able to pick up on projections consciously, every time they are presented, not only from yourself but even from other people you know well, resentment for example is a very obvious projection and you should find that it usually develops out of a problem with personal confidence, it might be that the other person with this resenting attitude is NOT doing what they want but that they are avoiding it due to potential failure, that failure may be reinforced by their past experiences which caused them to repress their confidence in the first place, so you also have personal, subjective shadow repressions which are more to do with bad past experiences then the meta-moral culture, presented in a certain place, at a certain time, which are influenced by certain moral institutions and orthodoxy’s.
Something that people say which is wrong is that you can integrate the shadow completely, you cannot do that, it is a continuous process which is you integrating more and more aspects of the unconscious as throughout your life you are going to come across new experiences, I would say from experience myself that observation of internal emotional ruptures in the context of a given state is one of the best ways of doing this, questioning and asking: Why are you angry towards this person? What is it in their character that they are presenting which makes you angry? Is it really making you angry or is it YOU that makes yourself angry in relation to this problem that you seem to have? Why do I constantly notice the selfishness in people? Why do I constantly notice the greed, objectify people by their physical image, bully others so on and so forth… The list is continuous because there are all sorts of things people do without actually being conscious of doing them, bullying is very unconscious I think, you might say that that doesn’t make any sense, how can bullying be unconscious when it is with intent, but what I mean is that it is done without self observation and contemplation, especially if it is long term, in that sense, it is unconscious, unconscious because it is just an attack with nothing else to it, the bully is not even conscious of their own being, that is what is missing, in that situation it is always rooted in the self but that person doesn’t realise it, it is a constantly incorrect equation, they can’t figure out how to get to the total sum, they will keep saying for example: your fat, your ugly, go kill yourself, your a pig, you disgust me, its the same response but they can never figure out the answer, like a broken circuit.