BEFRIENDING OUR SHADOW


While visiting the home of a retired police dog handler, who still had his dog, I ignored warning signs and walked across his yard to the front door. Suddenly this outsized beast came charging towards me with a vicious look and his teeth stripped. There was nowhere to go. To run back, I would not have been able to sit down for the rest of my life and to go forward would have eliminated all future challenges posed by celibacy. Thinking fast I knelt down to his level, held out my arm and said ‘here boy.’ He suddenly slowed down, gently nuzzled my hand and continued to lick it as we went to the door. The wife couldn’t believe what she was seeing, that this dog, trained to arrest, was so friendly towards me. I reflected on it as a powerful illustration of our relationship to the less acceptable parts of ourselves, and our negative emotions, that we call our shadow side. If we run from them they will continue to pursue us. If we confront them they overpower us. However if we could only allow them to humble us and invite them to be our friend we would discover that they too have a wonderful side. In the words of Carl Jung, ‘the shadow is pure gold’.

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