My Shadow

I got forwarded a WhatsApp video which showed an American girl talking in a very artificial manner and an American man making fun of her accent and telling her that she was not sounding posh when she put on her fake accent. The conversation with my friend on WhatsApp went like this:

Friend: What do you think of this?
Me: Just some video created to trigger people. Why do you ask and what do you think?
Friend: She is putting on a fake accent which is seen in most of the youth today, not just in English, but also in Hindi and Gujarati. You might have observed this in Kannada as well. This artificial machine like accent emerges largely from the longing to be considered of a certain type. If you carefully see how the youth talks to their parents and friends or unknown but urban looking strangers, you’ll see a clear distinction. Such is the case with written language as well. Do let me know your thoughts about this.
Me: I have no opinion about it. The world has many more problems than the tone that people use. I still don’t understand why you find this so fascinating. In short, I am more interested in why you find it interesting than what the phenomenon is pointing to. 🙂

The conversation made me think about the psychological Shadow, the aspect of our self that is its emotional blind-spot. The part of our self that we hide and don’t acknowledge even to ourselves. The part that we hold in shadow but that comes and secretly kicks us again and again and bewilders us. I think the idea of the shadow helps decipher many of our unconscious responses to the complicated world we live in. For those who haven’t heard about it, here is a brief description of what the shadow is about.

The classic example used is of a young boy who naturally tells a lot of lies even though he knows that his father has a reputation for being truthful. One day his father catches him lying, gives him a hit on his head and shouts at him for being a liar. The boy is traumatized and stops acknowledging the lying part of himself—he holds the lying part of himself in shadow. As he grows up, the way his shadow manifests in his behaviour is that he passionately hates all liars. He has an emotional charge attached to liars that most other people don’t share. You see the connection with the WhatsApp conversation above? The people who work in this area say that by the time we grow up all of us have created many many shadows and this is what we carry around with us as we unconsciously react to external triggers. The good news is that we can work at uncovering our shadows, like the boy in the example above, we get clues to our shadows by our extra emotional response to situations, responses that other people don’t seem to share.

In our colonized country we carry the burden of many collective shadows on top of all our personal baggage. For example, the emotional charge around speaking Hindi that many North Indians carry seems like an indication of some deep-rooted shadow. I encourage you to think about and become aware of the collective and individual shadows that we carry. May we reclaim all our scattered pieces and become whole again!

3 replies on “My Shadow”

Pawanji responded to the this post on Telegram. I am adding his comments here. He said:

Shadow वाली बात ठीक है। परंतु जब से मेरा ध्यान पश्चिम और भारतीय दृष्टि (अलग अलग दृष्टियां एक ही वस्तु/ परिस्थिति को देखने की) पर गया है मुझे लगता है कि सभी विकारों को समग्र दृष्टि से ही देखने की आवश्यकता है। Shadow विकारों का एक परिणाम ज्यादा लगता है, मूल कारण नहीं। मूल समाधान तो अपने को समग्रता में देख कर स्वीकृति में ही लगता है। देखना पहली बात और फिर देखे हुए को स्वीकारना बगैर किसी justification या कारण ढूंढे।

एक सात्विक क्रोध भी होता है। अन्याय को देख कर। क्रोध को आप कैसे डील करते हैं वह महावपूर्ण है। क्रोध, भय, दोनों का स्थान है। सही चीज से भय बुरी बात नहीं। जैसे गलत करने से भय, या हिंसक पशु से भय। यह ठीक ही है। गलत पर क्रोध बुरी बात नहीं। अंदर से कितना विचलित होते हैं यह दूसरी बात है।

जिस प्रकार आपने उदाहरण दिया क्रोध का, उसका ठीक उलट उदाहरण इसका भी है कि कोई व्यक्ति का किसी बात को लेकर अतिशय आसक्ति, मोह। कोई एक बात को अत्यधिक महत्व देना और उसे पकड़ कर दूसरे का समग्र मूल्यांकन कर देना यह भी देखना अच्छा होगा। मनुष्य का मूल्यांकन एक या दो traits के आधार पर न करके लक्षणों के आधार पर करना ज्यादा सही बैठता है।

My response to Pawanji on Telegram:

Pawanji, I think that the shadow is related to external behaviour. This behaviour can be a negative or positive emotional charge as you point out. I think that the usefulness of the idea of shadow is that it is a tool to work through the drishtidosh that we carry. If we arrive at a place where we are able to watch ourselves as we react to external situations, the idea of shadow is of no use any more. If there is a space between our action and our awareness of the action, we are ready to see things with samagrata and acceptance. Till that time, however, the idea of the shadow can provide a temporary crutch. What do you think?

अरुंण जी,
द्रष्टि दोष तो है ही , पर ये जो दिखने वाला फ्रेम है यह भी कम भ्यावह नही है । पवन जी अक्सर इस पर इशारा करते रहते हैं विशेष दिखना या विशेष होने की प्रव्र्ति, अपने को अलग करता है यह बिल्कुल सही बात है इस द्रष्टि दोष मे ।

पवन जी , इन विकारो को और अंदर से देखने की बात कर रहे हैं , इसमे तो हम कितने अंजान हैं इसका तो हमें पता ही नही चलता , और हम इसमे अपने को सहज मानना भी मह्सुस करने लग जाते हैं और बस करते चले जाते हैं फिर चाहे वो कुछ फेशन के नाम पर भी क्यो न हो ।
पर सजगता और मुल्यांकन इसकी म्ह्त्वपुर्न्ण कडी है No Doubt !

सादर,
मुकेश कुमार
दिल्ली

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