In Winter the shadows draw in around us, we notice them more and we yearn for the light of Summer. In psychotherapy we speak about the shadow, and it’s a wonderful metaphor which Jung came up with to describe the parts of ourself we don’t know. Tucked away within the person you are so familiar with is a whole array of parts and characters which you don’t know about. These hidden parts make up the shadow or the unconcious. Without the light of conscious awareness, these neglected and rejected parts languish unseen.
If we have courage, we can begin to shed light on these shadow parts of ourselves. We can if we chose, bring them into awareness and work with them creatively. Often instead, we project them outwards onto people around us. So when you catch yourself judging someone else harshly, you might wonder if that is something in you which you don’t like, which you are noticing in an other.
This deer in the woods is half in shadow and half in the light, and this is probably the state of most of us. We recognise and love the parts we have chosen to embrace and show to others. We create an image and a self which is nicer than perhaps the whole self. We tend to let others see the parts we feel will be accepted and approved of. All the other darker meaner aspects of our nature we tend to leave hidden in the shadows, for fear of being unlovable.
Yet there is a beauty and a balance in the whole. The light and the shadow together can be tolerated, but only if we are able to be real with ourselves and with the world. To allow the tension of opposites within, both good and bad, requires a maturity and an acceptance which doesn’t always come easily.
So within the shadow realm of ourselves lie many wonderful unnoticed creatures. Like these deer, they move unnoticed most of the time, and yet they exert an effect whether we acknowledge them or not. Some of them might be real treasures, bringing their surprising gifts to us in unexpected and sudden ways, when the world forces us to do something new or different. Change has a way of working its way inwards and releasing these shadow treasures, whether we seek them or not. Whether we can be brave enough to embrace them and show them to others is a story for another day.