BiographyWhat is the feminine shadow? Starting out with this question it becomes obvious that we cannot really know at any given moment. By definition the shadow is the part in the dark, the part we cannot see. So how can we say anything about it when it is hidden?
Well, during life, many things which were hidden at a certain moment come to light and we can realise that it was part of our shadow. When sufficient people come to similar insights, we can speak about “the shadow”, even the “feminine shadow”, when it concerns the feminine and women specifically.
So what do we realise to be shadow elements? The need for harmony, the holding back attitude, the malignant competition among women and the attempt to pull them back when they want to crawl out of their limitation, like crabs in a basket. Also the exaggerated self assertion of women who try to excel in the masculine world by becoming “better men”. Here the entire feminine qualities are pushed into the shadow, while some of the previously unseen abilities might emerge at the same time. How much is the personal shadow determined by society? What means shadow at the societal level?
In the attempt of getting clarity, in our first “shadow talk” in Women Matters the word “Trump” came up, and as you can imagine, it took us quite away from the feminine. Is he expressing the shadow side of America? Or just his own? Or is he actually “authentic”, as many people call him? It depends what you mean with “authenticity”. If it means: “the free and uncontrolled expression of what comes up, unfiltered by any deliberate (or even unconscious) mask”: well, yes. He definitely is authentic and doesn’t act out of his personal shadow. When we want to attribute to “authenticity” a positive quality – as it is often understood – then the discourse might be different. There is nothing positive about influencing others to negative behavior, anger and destructivity by misleading them with “alternative facts” and demagogic attitudes.
Coming back to our integral orientation, our final consideration was: Trump probably doesn’t behave out of his shadow, but out of an unhealthy version of the level of his development: “red”, egocentric in terms of Spiral Dynamics.
So how can we notice if we, ourselves, act out of our shadow side? When we feel upset, does it always mean that we are projecting things on others, which we don’t want to own, which are hidden in our shadow? If we get unpleasant feedback, should we take this as a sign that we need to dig into our shadow? These things are not easy to decide, but certainly a pathway towards more clarity, at least when it comes to our personal shadow content, our personal blindness. Others can often see what we can’t or don’t want to see. Honest feedback is certainly a good way to find it out. A long way to go! And only few people are willing to pursue this path. It is infinitely easier to blame and find fault in others than to look into oneself with radical honesty.
We might be able to illuminate our personal shadow. What about the shadow in society? What is it and how can we clear it at least to some extent? Is our society ready to dig into it and act accordingly? It needs to be seen, but it seems to me to be the only way to preserve some kind of civilisation – or, in the words of Yuval Harari (albeit in a different context) – to finally arrive at something which merits the name “civilisation”.