Persona vs Shadow Confrontation.
Look at it from an energy viewpoint. The amount of energy we put into our masks looking industrious, entertaining, responsible, good or oppositional, macho, non-needy, and rebellious, is absolutely awesome. Doing ‘Inner Shadow Work’ liberates all of this energy to live according to our natural self, no longer living up to or impetuously opposing the demands and expectations of others, or how we ought to live.
As I am writing this I just remembered criticisms from two old friends of mine. Mountain Man Leo and Seminary James (AKA Los Cabos Jaime). According to them, my recent articles have been “too heady” and “too intellectual”. “You’re losing touch with the people, brother, who I thought you were writing it for to begin with.” “Keep it simple, amigo!” I believe they were gentle with me this time (which is not always the case).
In reality they probably felt I was on my soapbox, a bit arrogant, yet affirmation seeking, self-serving and ego strutting. Of course, all of these traits are in my personal Shadow’s arsenal. The Shadow is both powerful and tricky and even though I’ve been doing this work for many moons, I still get overrun more times than I like to admit. Shadow work is a lifelong commitment; like the poet said, “Imagine Sisyphus happy!”
Here we go again…
When we run with our Personas in the first half of life to meet the demands of our parents, culture and religious institutions, we’ve pushed away and repressed large portions of our personalities. To make it in the outer world, we neglect our inner world and in midlife we pay the price, as our suffering becomes acute. The neglected parts of ours souls (Levinson calls them ‘other voices in other rooms’) start screaming, if we can only hear!
When we repress sensitivity it shows up as sugar-coated sentimentality or numbness; when we repress anger it shows up as passive-aggressiveness, cruelty and/or depression; when we repress spontaneity it shows up as boredom; when we repress creativity it shows up as inertia and resentment. The shadow not only includes our unacknowledged negative characteristics; it also includes our repressed positive traits and creativity.
The shadow embodies all which has not been allowed expression. Here is a major point in mid-life psychology! The negative shadow usually has to be owned first, before our positive shadow and creativity can show up. This appears in nighttime dreams when the threatening, power driven, ruthless characters are slowly replaced by strong, humanitarian, creative and helpful characters.
When we own our darkest impulses, we gain new energy and get our creativity back! Bingo! That’s it – no mas! Only when we begin to tap our repressed potential do we free ourselves from the agenda of others! The more we know ourselves, our masks and our dark side, including scars, blemishes and warts, the richer our life will be. It’s about wholeness, not about perfection!
Note: You can read: Are You wearing a Mask? part 1 – here
Dr. Peter Milhado © 2011