Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle your demons will cause your angels to sing
To begin the process of individuation, we dealt with the persona as the mask that we wear so as to get a long with the general society and how important it is to distinguish between your persona as a woman and the self. In this second chapter we will identify the shadow in an attempt to realize the individuation process.
The shadow is the negative aspects of our lives that we don’t like. Negative traits that don’t fit in the dominant culture or social attitudes of the day. Everyone carries a shadow, the dark parts of ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge. We must however note that as women a lot of things perceived by the society as dark are in essence part of the real you. The shadow here exclusively involves a lot of unpacking of harmful aspects that we project on to others, that make us uncomfortable when we see the same characters in others. You have to embrace your own dark side as a woman and embrace them with the intention of working to be better and in that way will be able to embrace other women. The saying women are their own enemies and that we prefer not to deal with other women but men is a projection of our own darkness. Usually we know who we are, our good and bad qualities. This requires a lot of reflection without passing judgements. We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
This leads us to identify the sources of our pain and degradation as women both from within and without. We must identify the personal shadow and collective shadow. The personal shadows involves a lot of many negative aspects that we have acquired through the culture, circumstances around us or by birth. Examples of the personal shadow include jealousy, envy, anger, internalized misogyny, homophobia, racism, gossip, inferiority complexes and many others that we can identify ourselves. These shadows we harbour are very damaging and very painful to confront. Some of these aspects of the shadow that we carry are an outside manifestation of the negligence of our inner self. If you are jealous of someone else, it means you have neglected your own creativity and lost your basket of fruit. As Kenyan women there are so many things that we need to unpack as individuals and collectively if we want to achieve any form of individuation.
We have to unpack internalized misogyny which is when women police their own behaviors, and that of other women, to conform to societal ideals even when it’s detrimental to them and devalues women. I will make sure to talk about that in detail in the next feminist section.
The shadow can be harmful if we repress it. One of the symptoms of the shadow is lack of self-awareness. As Kenyan women there are so many things that we refuse to acknowledge while choosing to live in ignorance instead of confronting them. Each one of us can identify to the self the aspects of their lives or behaviour that they refuse to acknowledge.
What are your own shadow aspects?
The shadow doesn’t want to associate with some vital part of you and that means you are disowning and rejecting some parts of yourself leading you to not feel strong emotions and some kind of self-hate. Religion is an aspect of many women’s lives that totally tries to drown the shadow and pray away some of the flaws in ourselves.
The shadow therefore suppresses our wholeness and that makes us react very aggressively to the same traits in others. For example you are sexually repressed or you love clothes yet you are not allowed to dress as you please and you have repressed that need, in the end this creates in you a very hard stance about others’ sexual freedoms or choice of dressing. You are projecting your own shadow on to others and continuing the negative or harmful acts that could endanger you as a woman or others in the larger society.
A repressed shadow trait in other instances can be a good thing because it keeps creativity burning if you are willing to confront it and go out and create anyways. If the dominant culture deems your shadow as negative because of your gender and you want to express it, for example you want to be a runner and women in that particular culture are not allowed to run, if the deep shadow traits persists go anyways and run. Shine! Go and express it and embrace it. Embrace the entire self!