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How To Integrate Your Shadow Self (Jordan Peterson And Robert Greene)

Jordan Peterson and Robert Greene on shadow psychology and how to ingrate your shadow..
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” -Carl Jung (Image: Jordan B. Peterson).

According to The Lovett Center, a mental health therapy clinic in the US specializing in addiction and substance abuse, the “shadow,” a term coined by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, describes “the repressed or denied parts of the self” (Shadow integration 101). The “shadow,” as it were, consists of things about ourselves that we deem morally reprehensible or undesirable and conflict with our ego construct. Our brain’s adaptive response is to represses these things such that we do not have to face them in the light of consciousness, which might trigger emotional pain or lead to an identity crisis.

The problem, however, is that this “shadow energy” doesn’t just disappear; it continues to operate in the unconscious and influence our lives in subtle ways. For example, an adult who internalizes at a young age that all aggression is bad may experience exaggerated aggressive impulses, like a pendulum that periodically swings hard in the opposite direction after being held back for so long. Or their mental and physical health may suffer.

Similarly, a man or woman with a habit of repressing sexual desires may experience overpowering or deviant sexual impulses that overcompensate for a lack of sexual expression.

Per the Lovett Center, “integrating the shadow leads to greater integrity and healing in relationship to the hidden and perhaps more negative parts of the psyche.” The Lovett Center cites “transform anger into power and strength” and “turn fear into insight and understanding” among the numerous benefits of shadow integration. Shadow integration can help people “in difficult life transitions,” people “struggling with feelings of shame or self-worth,” people “feeling stuck or overwhelmed with anxiety or depression,” and people “who have struggled with addiction and other impulsive behaviors to perhaps uncover what shadow is driving their behaviors.”

In a word, integrating the shadow by facing the darker aspects of our reality is a process of becoming whole. Only when we confront these elements can we direct or transform them into something positive.

Jordan Peterson, Canadian psychologist and cultural influencer
Jordan Peterson, Canadian clinical psychologist, best-selling author, and YouTube personality.

Today, I’ve transcribed a clip in which Jordan Peterson and Robert Greene discuss how to integrate your shadow self. Jordan Peterson, author of best-selling 12 Rules For Life and Beyond Order, is arguably the most famous psychologist in the world. Robert Greene, for his part, rose to notoriety after his 1998 publication of The 48 Laws Of Power, which sold over 1 million copies in the US. In it, Greene masterfully picks apart human psychology, with Machiavellian undertones, which at times make the reader feel like a supervillain. Greene’s most recent book, The Laws Of Human Nature, “examines people’s conscious and unconscious drives, motivations, and cognitive biases” (Robert Greene On The Shadow).

If integrating the shadow is the topic of conversation, then Peterson and Greene are who you want the speakers to be. Check out the transcript below and the complete video for more context and examples!

Robert Greene talking about shadow psychology..
Robert Greene, American author on strategy, power, and seduction, per his Wikipedia.

And so the main thing is you have to be aware this shadow side. You can’t run away from it. You have to acknowledge that it exists. You almost have to embrace it in a way.

Robert Greene

Jordan Peterson And Robert Greene On Integrating Your Shadow

Greene: I go very deeply into the shadow in a chapter in my last book, The Laws of Human Nature, and I try and talk about how one integrates the shadow, because it’s not an easy answer for that, you know. People are kind of perplexed, “Well, I have this dark side.” And I explain a lot of where it comes from, and how a lot of your aggressive impulses, like the [unintelligible] two-year old you were talking about. You have that as well. My readers—you had that aggressiveness when you were young, and it got socialized out of you, and then it kind of got repressed, and it’s like a lost self that lives inside of you, and it’s screaming to come out.

How do you integrate it?

And so the main thing is you have to be aware this shadow side. You can’t run away from it. You have to acknowledge that it exists. You almost have to embrace it in a way.

Peterson: A good parent, too, does everything he or she can not to repress that. What you want to do with children—you want them to be forceful. You want them to have some power. You want them to integrate that capacity for aggression into, let’s say, lucid conversation. You want them to be able to stand up for themselves in family discussions. If you just punish them for being, aggressive, let’s say, for talking back, or something like that. You don’t guide that into more sophisticated development.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

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