Denying one’s shadow at one’s own peril.
When this post makes it to your device, I will have already left for a five-day excursion that will take my wife and I to the headwaters of the Amazon River. Today I am using a photo I took early this morning while waiting for the water to boil on the stove. I couldn’t use the kettle as the power in our fishing village here in Ecuador was again out for a number of hours. I chose this image for a number of reasons, the most important of which was the mirror image in the shadows that could be seen in the window. The person in the shadows is an aspect of self, as good as a separate person that has taken up residence within us without our awareness. We all have this shadow self lurking within. We can learn of the existence of the shadow self, a cognitive awareness of the “idea” of a shadow self. Yet, that is all we can “know.” If we knew more, then it wouldn’t be shadow.
In today’s world there is a lot of noise about the Shadow. There are books, workshops, and numerous blog posts, many by skilled analysts and therapists. However, the majority of this published information and events give the impression that you can get to know your shadow, perhaps make some sort of friendly agreements with this shadow. You “CAN’T” know your shadow. You CAN sense the presence of shadow – your shadow and the collective shadow if you see what “stirs you up” or what “gets a group all fired up.” With affective responses, we can know that within our inner depths, or within the collective unconscious, the shadow has been active.
So why am I even talking about this? I am not trying to give a depth psychology lesson. What I am trying to do is to “reflect” upon the affective responses to the post that I removed. The offended responses, the rah-rah responses, the heat … all bear the imprint of shadow at work. My shadow, your shadow, our collective shadow. You can deny and claim that any “energised” response was purely cognitive, that you knew exactly how and why you responded with “heat.” But as soon as you do, turn and look at your responses, the non-verbal and the emotive responses. Where do they come from? Without the shadow stirring up shit behind the scenes, my words are simply just that, words.
In truth, we often don’t know why we respond the way we do to most things. Triggers are set off and unconscious scripts make their appearance in our responses to having our buttons pushed. In terms of naturism and nudism, the same holds true. As soon as heat appears, consciousness takes a back seat. And nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to nudity and images of nudity.
Why do the images of nudity exist? We intellectually know that such images provoke others, push buttons so-to-speak, yet knowing that and posting an image regardless speaks to a different issue. Why was the image even taken such as the image above? And why was the image presented in the manner as above, with cropping? Do we take these images out of vanity, out of narcissistic self-fascination, as an exhibitionist? The truth is we don’t honestly know why. We can tell ourselves all kinds of believable reasons feeling that there is no other reason, no unconscious reason, that might be at work. As soon as we convince ourselves that our conscious rationale is all that is needed to fully explain our actions, then we are even more at the mercy of the shadow within us.
I realise that I likely sound like a know-it-all to those who reject what I have to say, but I don’t pretend to know it all. I can only point to something bigger than both me and you. Think about it. Tell me and others reading here what you think about this.