Do you consider yourself bigoted or greedy? Are you filled with conceit? Most people, when asked, do not see themselves as having negative traits. You see, the ego has a place for these undesirable emotions—we call it the subconscious. Freud popularized the term and recognized that we hide resisted experiences—those we judge as horrible—in this mental sub-basement. Ever wonder why dreams can be so frightening? Dreams open a crack in the cellar door and give us a glimpse into “the little shop of horrors” that we’ve disowned.
Carl Jung took this idea further and observed that entire cultures (and all of humanity) share a “collective unconscious”. These archetypal images and myths reappear throughout history in societies separated in both time (different eras) and space (different continents).
In his recent book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell points out that each of us are driven by unconscious biases. He noticed that after growing his hair long he was ticketed for speeding far more often, than previously (with short hair). He wondered if some kind of bias was at play. He then discovered that each of us have unconscious biases that can be measured in a cognitive psychology lab. These prejudicial biases exist in our collective unconscious. Beliefs at this level of consciousness definitely influence us—whether we are aware of them or not.
If each of us has a “shadow side”, an unconscious pool of dirty, dark beliefs that drive our behavior, our preferences and our lives, then how can we achieve peace on earth if we cannot root out evil in our very own consciousness? A good first step is to simply accept that this evil shadow exists. There are many enlightening books, classes, and practices that can help you integrate your shadow self. Body-centered psychotherapy, like Radix®, yoga and meditation classes and simple mindfulness training work wonders. For example, the Avatar® Course instructs us to become aware of our self-deception signals: gossip and being critical of another. People that we criticize mirror our own behavior that we hide from ourselves and others. (“If you spot it, you got it”.) Look into the Avatar Course online (theavatarcourse.com) and you’ll find seven free mini-courses that can help you integrate your shadow self and realign yourself with your life purpose.
These integrity practices, when done with the intention of helping all sentient beings, can profoundly improve your experience of the world.
Tony Cecala, Ph.D.
About Tony Cecala
Tony is a business strategist. He publishes the Holistic Networker and produces the Wellness Expo. In his spare time he reads about technology and the mind.