My very first therapist liked the theories of Jung. As such, my councilor brought my attention to the idea that we all have a source of darker energy within us. That makes perfect sense to me. No arguments there. He made the point that because of our nature, we can never defeat/destroy/remove this part of ourselves. We can only become aware of it, and seek to limit the damage it causes. This “shadow” has to be met, so that it can be understood and accepted, but not embraced or allowed to run rampant. I cannot speak for others, but I experience this phenomenon as a menacing whisper. I don’t know about yours, but the voice I hear lies.
Is there ever a moment when the whispers within the shadows stop hissing all their poison? These mental cicadas, their incessant racket… but they’re nowhere to be seen. All you ever find are the husks. I just wish they’d be quiet. Constantly, the same droning, the same squall. I just want them to stop. South Carolina, you are the perfect manifestation of my emotional landscape.
The Shadow has never had a face, shape or sound. It has always simply emanated its toxicity like radioactive waste. It suckles me with poison, and a mutated image of myself is nurtured by this slop. I find that positive self talk isn’t enough. “You are a fat, worthless failure who has wasted his talent and potential.” Allowing that sentiment to rumble around in the echo chamber of my head allows it to sound real. But giving The Shadow a voice, and allowing it to speak its lies aloud renders them absurd. Let me repeat that nonsense aloud with my own mouth… Yep, it’s ridiculous to the point of being laughable. It’s ludicrous. But that isn’t enough. In the past I’ve tried to negotiate with The Shadow, or to debate with it. I’ve tried to explain my perspective. I’ve pleaded with it, tried to make it see reason.
Now, whenever The Shadow lies, I refute it. On the spot. “I am kind and generous, and I am dedicated to honesty, dignity and my own distinct code of ethics.” Period. This isn’t up for consideration. The Shadow lies? I correct it adamantly and without apology or explanation. I’ve gotten better already: I don’t even let The Shadow finish what it’s about to say. I’ve been hearing all this so long, that I already know what it’s going to spew before it finishes vomiting it. Lately, I immediately interrupt The Shadow with a little piece of truth, and then tell it to shut right up.
But even that isn’t enough. One of the reasons The Shadow became insidious is because it’s been without form. It’s been void. No, no, no… You can’t box with shadows. So I’ve decided to exact a little revenge. Let’s shine some light into the dark corner where this filth has been hiding…
The Shadow has been twisting me into its own image, like some kind of perverted god. Well, payback’s a bitch: Whenever The Shadow speaks, it will do so with the face and voice of Sarah Palin.
Now, demon, you are totally irrelevant. Tell me something. Anything… Anything at all… C’mon! Speak, demon! Tell me what you have to say…
“You are,” FOOL, YOU SOUNDED JUST LIKE SARAH PALIN!! How am I supposed to take you seriously??? Get outta here… Bye, Sarah. Bye, Felicia. Bye, girl.
To illustrate this process, I made a series of nine videos. They are on my Instagram feed (@INTEGRE8Twellness), and I called them “Exercising My Demons.” Remember that according Jung, those demons cannot be exorcised; however, we can do the exercise of learning to blunt their sharpest edges. You can watch the full series, starting with Part 1 here: instagram.com/p/By5ha71hwlP/.
Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.