I spent six years in a Jungian dream analysis group at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, “The Muse” group, presided over by two kind-hearted, Jungian psychoanalysts. Limited to ten working writers, directors, artists, and other creative types, (there was a designer or two), we tore apart each other’s dreams and got down into each other’s “core issues.” Every Wednesday, for its three-hour session, the group would disembowel two dreams – a pain staking ordeal that taught me more than I thought I needed to know about Jungian psychoanalytic technique. Because I was a screenwriter at the time, with a film in pre-production purgatory, a new, problematic marriage that was slowly and imperceptive draining me of every ounce of creative energy I had, I didn’t do much besides show up and participate. I had no idea at the time that I would be able to use every technique I learned in those six years to help others to unlock the riches, and the resources of their own subconscious minds.
Jung calls it “The Shadow Side,” and it’s the unaccepted, pushed down, guilt-ridden side of you that creates problems and that can block you from your true power. It’s what Jung calls “the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious.”
I have many actors, directors, musicians and artists for clients, and their stories could fill a book. But what comes to mind is how a client was able to free herself completely from a lifetime of self-recrimination and shame by claiming and accepting her own fiercely destructive “shadow side.” Susan, a busy nurse in her early 50s came to me to lose weight. Her 27 year old son had been killed in an auto accident the year before, but she said, “She was over that.” Not so fast, I thought, but I just proceeded as I do, with explaining the brain in the first session, then in the second session, teaching her the Jungian technique to get deeper into her subconscious mind. Then by the third session we started the regressions.
With beautiful, overweight women, I start by asking a simple question: “What stops you from owning your power and your beauty?” Susan saw a life where she was a rich, beautiful Roman “bitch,” abused sexually by her violent father, then she saw him kill own mother, and in that life, she let her hatred of all men ruin that life, entirely. She needed to forgive, and she needed to forgive herself, because she was not a nice person in that lifetime.
We did other regressions, where she saw herself as men. One day, she marched into my office saying, “They want me to be head of the whole damned, dysfunctional unit! I don’t want that f***ing job!” But that day, she saw herself an English naval commander, and her son in this life time, was her first mate in that lifetime – their love, connection and respect for each was intense. She immediately understood that her son was there to guide her, and she understood, exactly why he had to “leave her, in this lifetime. She knew she had to accept her power as a leader. “If you’re a leader, you must lead,” is what he told her that day. As she left, she turned and said, “I guess I have to take the job, huh?” And she did.
But it wasn’t until she talked about her own “wild-child-past,” the “take-no-prisoners,” beauty of her twenty-something self, then remembered and talked about the risky behavior that even for a nurse (and folks? My nurses tend to be wildest clients… ;^)) that she was able to release the shame and pent up anger she had toward her own past self in this life!
Her own “Shadow Side,” the side of her personality that was wild, free, and fearless felt ignored and unappreciated. But when Susan spoke directly to it, and asked her own “dark side” what it wanted to let go of this weight, she discovered that it felt completely ignored and unappreciated.
As Susan said later, “That all the wild and bad things I did, I needed to do to help me become stronger!” And because she was able to acknowledge all the knowledge she gained by living on the wild side, and love herself unconditionally, all of herself — she now understands how everything she learned on the “dark side,” helps her to understand and heal the wounded souls who rely on her now. And she is currently head of a unit where our own wounded warriors, back from Iraq, and Afghanistan come home to be healed.
She is a warrior goddess, and I bless her with all my heart. And that’s how connecting with your own shamed side, your “Shadow Side,” can help to unblock and unleash your true power!