According to Carl Jung, a person’s “shadow” represents those parts of their selves that they’re unaware of, especially facets that they might recognize in others and find repulsive.
Our shadows accompany us. They’re also often like the second quadrant in Joseph Luft’s and Harrington Ingham’s Johari Window: perceptible to others, but not obvious to us.
“We carry ourselves wherever we go,” Amma Matrona writes, “and we cannot escape temptation by mere flight.”1
Moving to new locations means migrating our unconsciousness as well as our awareness, our unclaimed parts as well as the traits we’re most proud of. We don’t get to escape who we are, no matter how deliberate we are and no matter where we go.
Leadership doesn’t depend on where in an organizational chart we stand. If, during conflict and uncertainty, we can practice claiming our whole selves, we can be oases of wholeness in communities where it’s much more common for people to live fractured.
Shadow work includes receiving feedback from others on what they’ve noticed about us. It also involves learning from life events and treating them as data that can increase our understanding of ourselves and our part in our experiences. Most of all it requires that we as we become more aware of who we are, we also grow willing to share more with the wider world.
We don’t have to stumble from conflict to conflict, repeating the same lessons in different costumes. We can choose awareness.