The shadow is too often explained as the dark and negative aspects of humanity, such as lust, greed, or anger. My take on this has always been that what is deemed ‘negative’ seems to be very individual and determined by the social, religious/spiritual, cultural (etc. etc.) influences in a person’s life, coupled with their own views and interpretations of these traits.
Emotions are, at their very basic, energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transformed. It is a matter of being true to yourself, acknowledging the emotion when felt, and using it to a greater purpose. Holding the energy within the shadow self allows it to grow unchecked. THIS is when things can get dangerous. I see the intense and primal side of humanity and emotions as something that, if properly integrated, allows you to find the drive to use these traits to positive results. For example:
Anger is only an unhealthy emotion if you use it to cause harm to yourself or others. It can lead to positive change if handled correctly. Not all houses are homes, and growing up I was faced with a lot of sever negativity, for which it would be very easy to be pulled into and replicate. Instead, at a young age and with guidance from my grandparents and both relatives and teachers, I learned to channel this energy as a ‘driving’ emotion. By internalizing the anger, and at times hate, I felt towards the negative forces in my life, I transformed it into a strength to survive. Anger transformed into determination is essentially what drove me to be an honour student and fueled my desire to protect and heal those in need! – Acknowledge your anger, your feelings are not wrong, but how can you positively spin the circumstances to something that benefits your life?
Greed, in a state of balance, becomes need, which can be the motivational force to career advancement! It is up to the individual, and no one else to judge, what your true needs are. Finding it through a healthy balance, resulting in no harm to yourself or others, is what can make this another positive driving force in your life. I use this energy to stay focused in my ‘mundane’ career, which then affords me the financial requirements needed (the tools) to fuel my ‘greed’ or need. In my case, it’s for tools for my healing arts and shamanic spiritual work.
Lust – passion on steroids. Personally, I see nothing wrong with either passion or lust. I tend to associate one with love on any level, and one as pure animal desire which result when mating bonds are born out of pure instinct. The energy of these two emotions are two of the most primitive and basic within humans. Understanding how it can energize you and using this energy towards productive goals is key. My level of ‘drive’ is intense and demanding, however, I learned to balance this through repeated cycles of 5 year periods of celibacy (yes you read that correctly :D). It is actually the easiest energy to raise and to transform into creative and healing endeavours. I use the energy raised from within to fuel other passions in my life! Ritual, healing, writing and this website are among them.