On this episode of The Shrink & The Pundit, Dr. Keith tells us that the only difference between a destructive shadow and a constructive shadow is our willingness to engage with it. Not a pleasant task in the best of circumstances, let alone when we’re in the defensive states that arise when our shadows are activated. We have to trust others to help us—our partners, friends, support groups, and of course, our therapists. It takes courage to be vulnerable and open enough to confront these lost parts of ourselves. And since the world is our mirror, it’s always going to happen in relationship. That is the difficulty, and it’s also what saves us.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge. ~C.G. Jung
We can learn to look within, to identify destructive shadow and then metabolize it and transform it. “When you’re dealing with destructive shadow, you have to feel it and accept it and simultaneously bring embodied moral discernment to bear on it,” says Dr. Keith. “That combination of acceptance and moral discernment is sometimes paradoxical, they’re often reciprocal inhibitors, and so part of development is getting better at bringing those forces together and reconciling them with the drives and impulses that arise.”
Those drives and instincts are expressed differently at the various altitudes of development, as is the embodied moral discernment that can transmute them. As usual, it helps to have an integral view — which is what you’ll get in this conversation from Dr. Keith Witt and Jeff Salzman.