Shadow consists of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. Everyone carries shadow to one degree or another.
According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to projection: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. We don’t want to talk about it because we want to focus on the light and the things we love. We want to pretend it isn’t there and in so doing we actually give it energy and life of its own.
We don’t so easily see it in ourselves but we do see it in others and in our group dynamics. Because we instinctively project it out and onto others, it becomes difficult to speak about or to own and it seems simply easier to try to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, believe we are better than it. The more we try to ignore it, the greater the likelihood it will take root in us and in our group dynamics, ironically doing exactly what we have been trying to avoid: slowing down work, getting in the way of successful results, harming interpersonal relationships, feeding judgment and frustration and just generally wearing us down til we decide anywhere else is a better place to be than here. We become dismayed and discouraged when we leave and shadow follows us to the next group or situation we find ourselves in. Or when someone else, whom we are sure is responsible for the shadow, leaves but shadow doesn’t leave with them.