CityVP Manjit in Paradox Wisdom Club Mentor • Bank of Montreal MCCC Toastmasters Oct 27, 2018 · 3 min read · +800

Shadow Appreciation

Shadow Appreciation

Buzz Submitted by : Dr. Ali Anani

Buzz : Shadow Engagement

In his buzz Shadow Engagement Ali Anani lists three bees that he appreciates unplanned engagements that inspire his appreciation.

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.

CityVP Manjit Oct 28, 2018 · #6

#5 We still project the parts of the shadow that are malevolent and nihilistic more than the positive traits of the shadow. I associate persona with its most outward and visible form today which is personal brand. That is what I project, a society so endeared to persona, that we lose sight that Jung was constantly pointing his finger to the imbalance between our association with the group over a focus on the individual.

We the people who watch the news, reward the news cycle with ratings. What are ratings but the evidence of millions of people and their projections. The movie industry also is rewarded by this and our media choices merely show how much we are trapped in our dark projection, rather than what I see Jung's genius and that is the balance of the individual being with group projection. He was not favouring introverts over extroverts but simply stating that the group is still our dominant psyche and focus.

We cannot further that development unless we see what we are projecting, and what we are projecting is mirrored in our own words. I see no value in this regard in how others study my words, because it is clear that with the state of persona as it is today, most people are still far removed from studying their own. What we project is the mirror to our own souls and that is why I love the idea of metacognition. This evolution is not about an attainment of nirvana, it is the liberation of being from our animal self to the evolved human being.

Jung also saw the development of being as an evolution. News ratings are an indicator that we are still primitive in our outlooks, we are more closely related to our animal self than our human self. That evolution will proceed for the next 400 years - I am not talking about instantaneous evolution. So even Jung saw the positive in the Shadow and in this buzz I am projecting an even greater appreciation (hence shadow appreciation) but I am not talking on behalf of Jung but for myself.

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Harvey Lloyd Oct 27, 2018 · #5

If you would allow me i would like to take a contrarian view of your thoughts on good and evil. This concept under the postmodern thinking has run out of vogue. I believe a bit to hastily. I too would like to think we have reached some nirvana state where we can cure the malevolent person who has created a shadow that is deeply nihilistic. Evil has been replaced with good people needing rehab. This rehab process has been going on for a few decades with limited results. Most positive results have come from good people who have experienced a PTSD styled event and momentarily snapped.

I believe that a shadow can be wired so tight within malevolence that it cant get back. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try but never the less this form of evil is present in our society. We see it in mass shooting events, the more recent pipe bomb mailings and many other media frenzy type of events.

I believe we need to know that humans are capable of developing a mind that is evil. Its important for us to understand the difference between a good person experiencing emotional circumstantial trauma and a severally nihilistic mind. There is a line we cross when we extend our shadow into the depths of nihilism. This line is the line between mental health issues and evil.

When we lose this thought then we begin to believe that science can fix everything. This is the case in a post modern world where science declares that it does and the population believes. The capacity for humans to grow into evil exists in our culture. I believe that Jung showed us the shadow and its extremes. If we struggle to see ourselves and our footprint with full on cognitive abilities, their exists the opposite. A mind that has hit the trip wire of malevolence and will never see their footprint again in any socially acceptable way.

Harvey Lloyd Oct 27, 2018 · #4

I really enjoyed how you separated the meanings of the word shadow. It has so many meanings when we look through our cultural history. I think sometimes as we bring forward some of the complex research of Carl Jung it can get misinterpreted into cultural norms and definitions.

There are several variations of describing self. I like the three tiered system that Jung brought out as representing the whole. I was first introduced to this through the Myers-Briggs (MB) process. Wanting more information set me on a course of finding Jung in his simplified form, he was a complex man.

Looking at his three tier system the most important thing he handed us was a language of understanding not just self but other self's in reaction. In leadership we find ourselves engaged with change almost constantly. Change inevitably presents the chaos of misunderstanding, assumption and clashes with personal/professional goals within the individual, in relation to the team.

This language we get from understanding Jung's concepts helps us understand the emotional persona of another by not taking the behavior at face value. We can now look behind the behavior and see the motivation. More importantly we can talk about the motivation rather than the behavior itself. Giving the leader the chance to help a team member grow in their own weaknesses in that area.

Of late i have read and heard the phrase "shadow work" the individual that looks at their own behavior and seeks to understand where the emotional/anxiety of settings emanates. I don't see this as self help, but rather as a process of all humans to compare their setting to their own behavior and make sense of it all.

Great post.


Part 2/
I repeated my quote because of your writing "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". I agree with you because if the shadow reaches an extreme it shall produce it opposite. It is dark and light together, but we tend to focus on the dark.
I have had discussions on this issue with @Harvey Lloyd. It shall be interesting to hear his views as well.
Again, I appreciate your thoughts in this buzz.

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@CityVP 🐝 Manjit- Iam deeply grateful to your mentioning my buzz. If it helped to stir your mind to write this wonderful buzz then I am overly grateful.
In a recent buzz that I wrote recently on "Rising Self" I mentioned the following"
"This intriguing paradox that the more knowledge we gain, the less knowledgeable we become tells us that when we ignore the opposite we produce it".

I repeat my quote

Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris Oct 27, 2018 · #1

Shadow is a key element in photography (