Buzz Submitted by : Dr. Ali Anani
Buzz : Shadow Engagement
The buzz from Ali 🐝 Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee called Shadow Engagement outlines a good example of shadow appreciation, but it is one part of a larger meaning of shadow appreciation that I am exploring here.
The twin problem today with the word "Shadow" is firstly that we who operate from a mindset of fear view "shadow" as dangerous. In the 20th Century dark and light was imbued with racist connotations as well as religious dogma in the binary belief of good vs evil. Such thinking makes us fail to see what Shadow Appreciation should be and could be.
The other problem is that Carl Jung owns the idea of "shadow" or more accurately "shadow-self". While his concept is good to understand because our self-awareness needs to understand our dark side, shadow appreciation is not this dark side. It represents the hidden depths of appreciation in its most whole being - and yet is not a euphemism for positive thinking. It is understanding the whole as appreciation, and the shadow is not hidden self but all that works in the background that gives us the more wonderful contributions to our daily existence.
We may view government as the problem but shadow appreciation includes all those workers and leaders who run our cities in the background. These are not some shadowy and nameless figures from the dark side of government, but people whose decisions pave the way for our daily existence as an urban community. If these people stopped doing their jobs, we would soon see just how dependent we are for their hidden contributions.
Another aspect of shadow appreciation is our shadow leadership an idea that I first encountered in the work of Gillian Stamp. Gillian is also very big on the idea of appreciation in the most fullest sense of the word. She draws her ideas from powerful minds such as Parker J. Palmer. Essentially our shadow as a leader is how our leadership touches others that we do not realize. Shadow appreciation is then awakening to that touch and reach. This is a good thing, a far different thing than the idea of the shadow-self that Jung is famous for.
Another example of shadow appreciation is the power behind the throne. As we try to thrust ourselves in the limelight through binary and linear concepts such as personal brand, there are people who do not want to be visible and who work more effectively in the background. Shadow appreciation here is the opposite of a conspiracy mindset. We may not like the idea of powerful unseen forces that shape life decisions in ways we may completely not comprehend, but understanding this as skills is a form of shadow appreciation.
Trust is an interesting form of shadow appreciation, because the paradox of those who advocate trust is that their advocacy is only meaningful when we recognize that the culture we exist in is one of distrust. Otherwise trust without its paradoxical shadow would be a no-brainer, we would not need to champion trust. The shadow appreciation of trust actually serves us to bring into the light a true form of trust as an action and not as a platitude or as rhetoric. These paradox's include happiness, but what is important here is that the appreciation is non-judgemental. We are not exposing a shadow self but simply appreciation the whole.
Our emotional range is not simply a visible spectrum of emotions, it is also the invisible light. The shadow appreciation of that invisible light is truly profound because it touches on what we don't know we don't know. Philosophers like Alan Watts are voices that typify shadow appreciation :
A challenging thinker who got in the faces of those people who listened to him is a guy who made his mark way before the self-help industry ever began and before there were motivational speakers like Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra. His name was Werner Erhard. Werner's methods were controversial and Tony Robbins when he gets intense with people exhibits the same method and it is not for the feint of heart. Shadow appreciation is about not sitting in judgement of these people or their methods but to appreciate why they enjoyed periods of great interest from followers. His intensity is on full display in this 3 hour lecturer on the "Possibility of Relationships" :
We therefore can appreciate voices that we may find offensive or disagree with. Unfortunately that increasing polarization merely demonstrates that the default relationship with society is agree vs. disagree mindset. It is not creative, it is not reflective, it is just one aspect of thinking and while critical thinking is very important, it is not important in isolation, but only when integrated fully with other kinds of thinking. The critical thinking is important because evidence is important but context and understanding what we don't know what we don't know is even more fundamental to our awareness.
Shadow appreciation is ultimately to awaken to our our latent qualities - qualities which we never knew we had and in getting out of the linear society we exist and were educated in, to end up learning to see what is the invisible light that is far greater in extent than the spectrum of visible light. Indeed shadow appreciation contains an understanding that some light is not good at all. Our society dines on political correctness, personal brand, positive thinking, emotional intelligence etc etc ideas that do have unintended consequences because we are endeared to the thinker or the ideology. We are not being metacogntive or confronting thought itself and its effect on society and us.
We can even practice shadow appreciation on Jung as a human being rather than the person who explored shadow, ego, animus etc etc, and the shadow appreciation does something very important. It gets us out of our intellectualism and down to the person, to view Carl Jung as a human being just like us and not the big thinker and bigger than life character. Then we may see the emergence of that hidden which is glorious, which is worth seeing. Human beings today are creating technologies that allow us to see things in invisible light that we were not born to see. Shadow appreciation is a wonderful thing so long as we can get past what the word "Shadow" means to us or in the case of Carl Jung, get out of the world already predefined by others - so we can begin to learn to see our world afresh.