Shadow and the Soul

The Mystery of the Dark Side

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

April 28, 2020

Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst

Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist

In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.

By shadow I mean the “negative” side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious. (Jung, 1956, p. 66)

In this image as well as in life, there are times that shadow qualities reveal more. In sunlight the “blotches” are not as visible, but in the shadows, they are more pronounced. This is quite parallel to how there are aspects not clearly visible in consciousness (light). It is seeing the undesirable quality outside of myself (projection) that reveals it.

It was a funny moment when I took this image of myself and two of my best friends. We all laughed at how the others’ shadow looked. We did not like our own. It was a very playful time about a very telling dynamic.

During this stay at home time, there are fewer distractions. I do not have as many ways to get away from my shortcomings. I certainly do not have the “I’m too busy” excuse. The projects labeled “someday when I have time” invite me to work on them. Some of them I enjoy because its congruent with how I see myself. Other, are challenging and ask that I engage a part of me that is unpleasant or underdeveloped.

In the current pandemic, the best of us and the worst of us as individuals and as a society comes into focus. The courage and the altruism of the first responders is inspiring. On the other side of this coin is the bickering between different political parties, the unfair distribution of resources, every man for himself and a dog eat dog attitude. Nations responding collaboratively and the others responding in self -serving manner. The list of light and the shadow is endless. If we act out of the personal and the collective Shadow, then we would be rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. If we follow the Light of “TOGATHER”, we will survive and master the crisis and come out better as individuals and a robust Global Human Community. When each one of us will make a choice to confront our Shadow and respond out of our Light, together, we will seize this moment for a fundamental and enduring transformation into a better world.

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. How are you using this time?
  2. What self-perceptions are helping get you through this?
  3. What has surprised you about being at home?
  4. How do you respond to your unpleasant qualities? Are they unpleasant to you or others?
  5. How do you characterize your response to the pandemic?
  6. In your own assessment of your response, do you believe you are responding from a self-serving or altruistic part of your soul?
  7. What would a Soul response rather than a Shadow response look like for you?
  8. Do you feel our country is responding from the Collective Shadow or from a place of “WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGATHER?

Jung, C. G. (1956). Two essays on analytical psychology: Meridian Books.

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.