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Will your shadow chase you this Christmas?

Will your shadow chase you this Christmas?

Whom have you found most irritating today? The co-worker who showed signs of laziness? The subordinate who dared to complain – or your boss, who was far too demanding?

The answer you choose could help you become more self-aware, and it might give you a more peaceful holiday.

CG Jung argues that we should pay more attention to our negative projections, those parts of ourselves that we criticize in others but fail to see in ourselves. By that, we isolate ourselves from the real world and live with the illusion that we ourselves have no inferior parts. According to Jung, “everything that irritates us about others can lead us to [an] understanding of ourselves” (Jung CW9ii).

If another person’s behaviour makes us excessively emotional, we are likely in the grip of a projection, victimized by parts of our unwanted traits.

A projection is always activated by a trigger, some form of behaviour that catches us. Family gatherings during Christmas are the perfect place to study this phenomenon. At some point, you will probably be annoyed by your siblings, spouses, parents or children’s bad and unwanted behaviour. Your reaction might spoil or save the rest of the day.

The best Christmas gift we can give ourselves is to accept that a trait we dislike in a family member is also a trait we have in our shadow side. If we refuse to accept our inferior characteristics, our shadow will keep chasing us next year and the years to come.