Loving the Shadow
I can’t remember having such a long stretch of mild, dry, sunny weather in the winter before. It feels a little disconcerting and I’ve no doubt its indicative of climate change, which is finally getting discussed in the mass media, and which the US president, his allies and others persist in denying. It’s as if they are children playing a game, like deep down they know it’s true but it doesn’t fit their self-serving agenda so they deny to try to get what they want, regardless of consequences. It deeply angers me that someone with such power in the world can behave so ignorantly and shortsightedly damaging the natural environments not only in the USA but across the globe. His decisions and attitudes profoundly and negatively impact the entire planet.
What can be done? Specifically, I have been wondering what can I, or the individual, do about this force of ignorance in the world? Feeling angry and powerless with nowhere useful for that energy to go does not help me or anyone else. I’ve realised the only thing to do is to try to love him! Yes, love that ignorant child who dwells within us all, the part that didn’t get enough care when we were small, who wants it his way or no way, the part that actually hurts from feeling unloved and unaccepted and has to make up for it with bravado and tantrums and shows of external power. He is an extreme embodiment of all of the darker side of humanity up until this point in human history. For centuries we, collectively, have ignored damage to ecosystems and species for the sake of comforts, wealth, technology, convenience and greed which is really about feeding a deep sense of insecurity. Trump’s attitudes and actions are a call for us all to wake up to what we have been doing and to change our ways for good. I’m not alone in this assertion; Jungian analyst Jerome Bernstein goes into some detail on this topic and I found his work empowering in the sense of helping me see what I can do on a personal level, which is motivating my wish to share and potentially support others in their own similar sense of empowerment. For those interested in Bernstein’s work on this subject see
My point is that the ugliness we see in ‘others’ is a reflection of our own potential for, or actual, ‘ugliness’ which we all have within us as human beings; in order to truly evolve beyond our collectively self-serving and destructive behaviours, which are threatening our very survival as well as destroying the Earth as we have known Her, we have to learn to love and accept our own hateful thoughts feelings and actions, to integrate our own pain and ‘shadow’, all of the things within us that we have suppressed or denied or judged as unacceptable throughout our lives.
How can we do this if we don’t feel love but only fear, anger and hate towards someone who behaves hurtfully? The love I speak of is not a feeling, it is at the core of who we are, the essence of all life. When we boil life down to its essence, we find a field of energy, now widely studied and proven to exist in physics, that we can call love because of its benign feeling quality; this energy is readily available for connection within us when we choose to quieten our minds or ‘meditate’.
To direct love towards someone like Donald Trump, or anyone we perceive as hurting us, we do not condone their behaviour, but we recognise their basic humanity; we allow ourselves to see that their imperfections mirror our own and that all of it comes from the same life energy and therefore we, as an expression of life energy, can choose to accept, with nonjudgemental compassion, that dark material in ourselves and others. We still must take what actions we can to address abuse of power and environmental degradation. There is a place for anger, of course, as it can call us to action, but I believe when our actions are purely motivated by fear, hatred and anger, this is the energy we put into the world and we then perpetuate conflict and ultimately contribute to creating more of the same; instead, if we can recognise when we project our own darkness into the world, coupled with self compassion and acceptance, we allow love, as the benign life force it is, to arise within us and guide our thoughts and actions. I’m aware this is not an easy process but if we make part of our daily practice to first see if we can connect with this essential energy within us and then allow for the possibility of choosing love over fear and blame, we will contribute to creating a more cooperative and caring society over time.
We may find that before we can consider loving or accepting ourselves we need to look at our personal wounds and do what we can to heal our own pain. Psychotherapy for personal growth and healing is one way we can engage with the process of integrating shadow and create positive change not only in our personal life but our personal healing is also a valuable contribution to collective healing and evolution.