From the work of Carl Gustav Jung, we can draw conclusions on the concept of the shadow as this offers us an ideal framework to broaden the understanding of our experience. This expression of our unconscious is vitally important to understand and more so when it comes to positions of leadership or power. Throughout the experience in my practice, I have been able to observe and verify the important source of personal power that lives within us in the form of the shadow. We understand this as a deep unconscious aspect where not very pleasant or functional aspects of oneself are housed. It is that aspect of the unconscious that stores memories of traumatic experiences or unpleasant references to oneself, unresolved conflicts that are the source of so many self-destructive and limiting emotional or mental forms. There, we find a limited sense of identity, unfulfilled or our repressed values or desires, and our personal conflict with the energies of world inside and around us, and then more.
To give this a larger context, it is also important to look at what Jung called the “Persona” or etymologically a `Mask´. This personal expression includes those forms of `being´ that seek to contain the force that the shadow implies and that in, usually, social contexts, would be the source of a large number of problems or mistakes. Imagine yourself in a social context where one must force oneself to appear likeable or fit within that situation. Imagine the psychic effort invested to present yourself in a particular way to be `functional´, to be accepted, to achieve a goal, or simply not to create problems. Imagine later, already at home leaving that temporary façade and then giving rise to feelings and expressions of dissatisfaction and even resentment. What I describe is a way of understanding the quite harmful dynamics between these aspects of our psyche, the engine of our neurosis.
Thus, we can then explore a little more about the amount of vital and psychic force that is invested in controlling this conflict. First, those unresolved and limiting internal aspects are the result of our inability to adapt in a healthy manner with the environment, often the result of deep traumas experienced previously. Next, let's reflect on the amount of energy invested in keeping all those expressions in check; the repression of their impulses, the excessive control to operate in social contexts without these shadow coming to light and finally, the vital force invested in holding our mask.
When we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on our own relationship with the shadow and all these elements, then it is easy to conclude that if we could resolve as many of these conflicts and integrate all these dark forces through psycho-emotional resolution, then we would have all that vital and psychic force available for other things and aspirations. Hence this is a very important source of personal power.
When we reflect on our ability to lead, whether leading myself or as the head of a family or organization, we can then begin to associate this important aspect of the psyche and its direct influence on my leadership styles and abilities. In life, true leadership is tested by facing crises and unexpected challenges. Being a leader in the midst of stability is easy and certainly requires less effort to contain my shadow. However, what could happen when in the midst of risk management or highly complex or dynamic scenarios? How do we expect to react when excessive stress or frustration begins to wear us down? What kind of maneuvers will we carry out when what we live begins to present greater difficulty? Integrating the shadow is a work of brave souls and certainly also for those who are urged to do so. From my personal experience and as a facilitator, I find in the integration of the shadow a source of deep personal freedom, where peace and inner balance are achieved to enjoy life. Internal conflicts, typical of childhood ages are transformed and clarity and discernment are achieved. I have witnessed that when desires, typical source of conflicts between our internal parts, are released and resolved, then there is a space of personal wisdom that informs us and efficiently enriches our ability to make decisions and execute them and evolving from those childish expressions.
A person can then easily and naturally renew values and strategies and elevate the experience of living. I have had the opportunity to guide people through processes where their sense of meaning is enriched in such a way, that attitudes typical of those who need to compensate for their personal voids with harmful forms of manipulation, attachment or even destructive desires are abandoned. This totally resonates with the current crisis of leadership and the model of social order, a dangerous place where narcissism and selfishness are to be kept in check as they are permeating the fabric of decision making centers.