Our psyche in daily life tries to give us a hint of where our shadow lies by picking out people to hate in an irrational way. Suppose there is a woman who seems to another woman too loose and too sexually active, and this latter woman finds herself thinking of this former woman a lot. In that case, the psyche (of the latter woman) is suggesting that part of her shadow, at least lies in the sexual area. She has to notice precisely whom she hates. That is the path of attention. Suppose that she hates the current president of the PTA; and if you ask her, she’ll say that the woman is fakey, can’t be trusted, is too successful, and so forth. The psyche might be telling her that part of her shadow lies in the power area. She has unused and unrecognized power impulses, which she has put into the bag. Otherwise there wouldn’t be such heavily emotional contact with that other person. So, following the path of attention, one notices where the anger goes, and precisely whom we become obsessed with. We become entangled with people who are virtually strangers. That’s odd. The metaphor is this: if we maintain eye contact with that person, we can damage him or her by our anger and hatred. If we break off eye contact and look down quickly to the right, we will see our own shadow. Hatred then is very helpful. The old tradition says that if a man loves God he can become holy in twenty years; but if he hates God he can do the same work in two years.
A Little Book on the Human Shadow
Robert Bly 1988
Edited by William Booth