A journal entry on my observation of Carl Jung's idea of the Shadow.
The idea of acknowledging in others traits or feelings that we wish not to admit to ourselves is not only a fascinating concept, but one of extreme prevalence. This concept is in accordance with my utter fascination of Carl Jung’s work and the beyond profound influence it has had on my mentality and awareness as a whole. Stemming from this influence, also, is the pure power and practical application that self-awareness can provide for a person—it is the way, and absolutely cannot be overstated.
That being said, I believe getting in touch with one’s subconscious by means of awareness and expanding on thoughts beyond their seeds can fare tremendously in highlighting which ideas are worth mulling over. It is like an analogy that came to me some time ago: often certain thoughts and ideas are similar to birds quickly flying by, and we must expend all of our efforts to catch them and temporarily place them in cages for examination. Once they have been fed and had their capabilities studied, we shall then set them free into the world to fly of their own accord. Hopefully, after some time, their wings will flap graciously and steadily, and observers will take heed of their beauty; they may even find other birds and reproduce, in which there is potential for evolution.
From the opening statement (the idea of us observing negative traits in others that we refuse to admit to ourselves—our shadow, in Jungian terms), it can be inferred that this notion holds a high degree of weight in the act of gossip. In his book The Conquest of Happiness, originally published in 1930, philosopher and polymath Bertrand Russell writes: “Very few people can resist saying malicious things about their acquaintances, and even on occasion about their friends; yet when people hear that anything has been said against themselves, they are filled with indignant amazement” (113). It seems almost inevitable that between two or more people who are involved in the act of gossiping, at least one of them will make a rather strong claim of an outside person or people that reflects themselves. This very behavior is the reason why the inherent nature of gossip focuses on negative traits or wrongdoing—when we have not admitted to ourselves fully and openly that we perform certain behaviors or say certain things, or have not come to the realization yet, we are bound to notice it in others, and more often than not to an irrational, sometimes intense degree. Thus, a brief case for objectivity can be made: one’s unconscious thoughts must find a release somewhere in reality, whether in themselves, another person, or a group of people—that is how the truth makes itself present, whether visible to the immediate eye or not: it can be subtle like a snake, or overt like a lion. Otherwise, if this truth never manifested into reality, insecurity would not exist; we would have nothing to feel bad about or nothing to fix in ourselves, thus the ego, the comedy mask in tandem with insecurity's tragedy mask, would not exist either since there is nothing to cover. In essence, we would be amoral robots, not unlike your average Congress member. Now take the exact opposite: someone who has made a strenuous effort to surface to the forefront of their mind their unconscious thoughts and work them through. The end product is a morally courageous individual who has walked the path to individuation, as Jung called it, simultaneously dissolving his or her insecurities and therefore ego in order to form the self. Insecurity exists because morality exists and most of us desire to be good people by examining ourselves in order to live a better life and subsequently enrich the lives of those around us. The deeper the insecurity, the more inflated the ego—they are correlational. I believe this is the sole reason why teenagers often have a grandiose view of themselves: their minds have matured to the point of self-consciousness; as a result, they learn to care what others think, and they must compensate in some manner. At this dawn of self-consciousness is the formation of intentional subjective thought, and hopefully the beginning of the road to objective thought. In dealing with objective thought, since our reality is a manifestation of the energy of our thoughts, then our thoughts must in some way be influenced by our reality—the constant churn of the subconscious and conscious mind. When said thoughts of either the subconscious or unconscious (thoughts that are intentionally repressed, which end up in the subconscious) arise in an individual, the bird metaphor is appropriate. When thinking about others, it is best to understand which of their behaviors is irritating beyond a normal level. It follows that the more one looks inward and sheds light on his or her weaknesses that less subjective thought is poured out onto others.
Pair this idea with the fact that it is immensely difficult to accurately recognize both the good and bad in others and their circumstances, and you end up with a significant amount of people dwelling on the negative, and the rare few often having to overemphasize the positive. Russell also notes in the same passage of his book: “It does not occur to us that we cannot expect others to think better of us than we think of them, and the reason this does not occur to us is that our own merits are great and obvious, whereas those of others, if they exist at all, are only visible to a very charitable eye” (113). If one is often engaged in conversation with predominantly negative-minded people, then this is a common experience. It’s as if a forcefield of judgment and utter condemnation is unconsciously constructed, and anyone who pierces this murky field of energetic temptation subsequently becomes the one under the microscope. As a result, it is indubitable that the new subject can feel it because, as I mentioned, our thoughts manifest into reality whether we realize it or not. Those who are accustomed to noticing the negative in everything will paint virtue, or virtuous people, as bad—and the paint brush is rather thick. Why spare virtue? If anything, it is painted with the most frustrated and violent strokes. The painter recognizes the bad as normal and the good as unseen, and if one is threatened by what he cannot see, then it is bad (unless you’re a politician, in which you create the perception of bad as normal for citizens and as a result view their bad as good for your own sake, ultimately viewing your conscience as the worst evil of all). To put it simply, it is either a malfunction in their moral compass or they lack one entirely (malfunction for the public, complete lack for politician).
This last idea I have proposed leads me into my final analysis: that it requires consistent questioning, reflection, and self-control in order to be grateful. To be actively grateful is to take notice of the unseen, an idea that could lead to a further discussion on objectivism, in which an entirely separate essay, or rather novel, could be written. The Roman statesman Cicero once stated in his speech Pro Plancio: “In truth, O judges, while I wish to be adorned with every virtue, yet there is nothing which I can esteem more highly than being and appearing grateful. For this one virtue is not only the greatest, but is also the parent of all the other virtues.” It is an extremely arduous task to extract the positive out of what we perceive to be negative situations, similar to sifting through a haystack to find the needle, and to recognize the good in others as equivalent to, if not greater than their negative attributes. As seems to be the case with most things of an abstract nature, an equal and balanced account of the good and bad within usually blazes a clearer, more defined trail to the truth.
Russell, Bertrand. The Conquest of Happiness. 5th impression
George Allen & Unwin Ltd., November 1932, p. 113 https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.222834/page/n7/mode/2up
Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Pro Plancio.
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Cicero#De_Legibus_(On_the_Laws)_(c._40s_BC), edited February 15, 2021, accessed February 16, 2021