Kathy Jourdain writes about working with the our shadow side. It relates to an idea from Jung about the parts of our personalities we keep secret but which inadvertently leak out in a variety of ways.

Sometimes we just need to clear the agenda to enter into the unspoken conversation and to do that we need to do to be present with it create the opportunity for things to be spoken, experiences to be validated and clearing to take place. What if, instead of fearing shadow, we normalized it? The real breakthroughs in our work and relationships come from the tough conversations. Being able to navigate our way through these conversations is what makes a group tight – the group learns to trust itself when it comes through the fire.

I might talk about acknowledgement rather than validation but this really strikes a chord with me. Kathy continues the theme in a further post. She’s dead right about the time trap, where our need to stick to a schedule provides a reason or excuse not to explore our more challenging responses. And about the toxic consequences for a team which continues to avoid dealing with the difficult stuff. I also thought this was a great point:

A second thing that stills us from voicing shadow is people’s goodness. People generally are trying hard and if we bring up shadow it seems to imply they – or we – are a bad person. Whatever shadow shows up gets generalized to the whole person rather than to the specifics of this particular shadow or context. If it is named, the response is often defensiveness – “I’m doing all I can”; “I’m doing the best I can”. People’s goodness and the tendency to generalize become a barrier to talking about hard and difficult things. It comes back to not wanting to hurt another person and also our lack of skill in addressing difficult topics. We are afraid for their reputation and for ours.

Hat tip: These tweets from David Holzmer

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