Module 1: The Shadow and Projection.
Entering a culture (family, national, religious, vocational) we are required to adapt. This means sorting our character into traits that will do well in the culture and those that need to be hidden. Because the expressed qualities are a source of pride, the suppressed parts are dualised as sources of shame. They reside in a denied, ignored, neglected part of the psyche called the shadow.
A symptom of shadow is projection. When we deny a shameful trait, we delete how it affects our perception of reality. One such filter is its attribution of our own denied qualities onto others. This can cause fascination or repulsion with the object of our observation, depending on the nature of the denied trait. The impact on relationships can be damaging. Owning our projections and integrating the shadow quality back into our personality has a profoundly positive impact on leadership.
Module 2: Rackets
A racket is a complaint, which justifies associated negative behaviour to get a relational advantage (pay-off). It is damaging to relationships in the long run. The racket is activated by a perceived assault on an emotional vulnerability, which the racketeer is unwilling to examine. Instead, they create a complaint, which is skewed to support the use of a defence (or ersatz) emotion. This is a more bearable emotion, witnessed growing up and through years of practice, has become loaded with devices to generate relational benefits. These pay-offs include privileges, dominance and/or self-justification.
As a result of these pay-offs and the initial trauma trying to complete itself, the racketeer can develop repetitive self-sabotaging behaviour, unaware of the cost to their relationships. Learning how to be honest about our own rackets and identify them in others, helps leaders navigate the shadow side of the human condition and find creative ways to ensure that the right conversations are being had.
Module 3: Group Shadow and Integration
In the same way that shadow is generated by the idealised ego image of an individual, it can also be created by the brand or values of an organisation. A group’s pride position, which denies the shadow side of their culture, engage in what Jung called, the collective consciousness. This is the “lowest form” of gathering, with all the little egos defending themselves by purporting received beliefs and virtue-signalling in a “hollow togetherness.”
Creating a safe environment for genuine human expression will rout this “lonely crowd” and open people to the shadow. Welcomed, the shadow now manifests as a container for belonging and wholeness. The collective unconscious produces art and integrity that resonates with the deep recesses of the human psyche, bonding people in an authentic human experience. These organisations feel real, earthy and inclusive. Every leader has access to this as long as they are prepared to engage with their own shadow.