Shadows are repressed parts of you that have been exiled, disowned, and thrust into your unconscious. In other words, they’re still there — and causing you untold amounts of pain and suffering. The worst part? You might think you killed it off, or you might not even be aware these shadows are still a part of you.
But if you know how to encounter, understand, unburden, and integrate your shadows, it will result in lasting happiness and unconditional love. In fact, taking these 4 steps are required to fulfill your potential for success in this life.
If you want to discover your potential talents and gifts in other areas of your life, and the potential lives you could leave, you need to encounter, understand, and integrate your shadow parts. And in today’s episode, David reveals that and more!
Show highlights include:
- How watching YouTube reviews of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pollutes your mind with the exact thoughts drop-dead gorgeous women find repulsive (8:26)
- The simple way to “automatically program” your iPhone to force feed you helpful tips and tricks on women’s psychology (12:43)
- How much do genes matter for dating? (24:21)
- 4 steps to integrate your unconscious shadows to lead a fulfilling life full of unconditional love and happiness (26:37)
Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
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Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host.
This is an analysis of the Black Panther 2 movie Wakanda Forever. It’s a pretty long movie, the second longest MCU movie so far. There are a lot of great themes in this movie from a psychological perspective. I’ve chosen one that I think has the most relevance to my audience, to you, the listener, and that is the shadow, and understanding what to do with the shadow once you’ve encountered it, how to integrate it, how to unburden it, and so forth. [00:51.4]
But there are a lot of other great themes like grief and grief work, and the different ways in which people respond to emotions and emotional vulnerability. I’ve chosen the shadow to focus on also because it’s done well in this podcast series so far, and others have asked for more on the shadow, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to do that.
In case you didn’t listen to any of the other podcast episodes that had to do with the shadow or the shadow parts, I want to explain why it’s so important to learn about your shadow, and that is for many reasons, one of which is a deeper understanding of yourself, and, more importantly, understanding your shadow and integrating it into yourself is required for lasting happiness and lasting fulfillment in life.
For those achievers who are listening, it is also a requirement for fulfilling your potential for success in this life. It’s not just about feeling good, which is already intrinsically awesome on its own. In addition, if you want to discover your potential talents and gifts in other areas and other parts of you, the potential lives that you could lead that could all be fulfilling to you, you will need to encounter and understand and integrate your shadow parts. [02:16.4]
As usual, with all movie analyses, this is a huge spoiler warning. If you haven’t watched Black Panther 2, Wakanda Forever, I’ll just refer to it as Wakanda Forever, then please pause this and come back to it after you’ve watched the movie obviously, if you’re interested in watching the movie.
My wife and I loved it. We saw it on the Friday that it came out. My wife was basically crying from the beginning to the end of the whole almost three-hour movie. I could have done the same, but I chose not to, until I couldn’t resist and that last scene with just the silence. Oh, by the way, spoiler alert. I’m going to assume now that if you’re continuing to listen, you have decided to spoil the movie for yourself or you’ve already watched it. [03:00.2]
Yeah, that last scene where the music, which was amazing music all the way through and it just cuts out in that mid-credit, the one mid-credit scene or post-credit scene, and you just hear the wind blowing and then you get the Chadwick Bosman sort of tribute, and that was just so moving, I just gave into that.
The movie, overall, was deeply psychological and it’s something we’ve seen through the course of Phase Four in the MCU. We started the big six characters. There were all white men except for Scarlet Johansson, who was an attractive, sexy woman playing a basically male character. They even had to write into the plot that she was sterilized.
I am a huge fan of action movies. I will rewatch action, great action sequences from movies over and over and over for fun and to relax. The first movie in which we actually see the Black Panther isn’t the movie Black Panther, of course, it was The Winter Soldier and I’ve rewatched those fight scenes, I don’t know, over a dozen times, easily maybe dozens of times. I’m also a huge fight fan, in general. I just watch fights. [04:05.5]
But I’m an even bigger fan, especially as I get older, every year I become an even bigger fan of the deep psychological storytelling, and that’s what we’re seeing now in Phase Four, a move away from big action scenes and one-dimensional good guy versus bad guy, black versus white, superhero, supervillain, simplistic set up and then just leading to a big fight. We’re moving away from that kind of simplistic childlike and, in some ways, childish and immature perspective on reality, which is fine. You’re going into it knowing that it’s like a comic book brought to life, so you kind of suspend your disbelief and let them rewrite the rules of reality so that you can enjoy it.
I’m just meaning to say that I’m as big of an action fan as anyone else in the world, and yet I really appreciated the deeper, more thoughtful, more psychological take on comic books and how they’re making room for character development, much deeper storytelling. [05:12.8]
This Black Panther movie that caps off Phase Four, so I’ve read, is a great way to end this much deeper dive into the psychology and character development of this next phase of the MCU and the development of these new characters. It feels very different from the previous phase, because the previous phase was bringing everything together into a big climax and now we’re starting over again with, one by one, homing in on each of the main players with their own self-contained worlds so that we can develop them, and then, eventually, they’re going to tie all of these different threads together.
I wanted to say, overall, I love the movie. My wife and I desperately want to see it again on the big screen. One of the first thoughts I had because I was planning to do a Black Panther podcast no matter what, so I went into watching the movie thinking I was going to do a podcast on it. I came out of the movie and I was still so emotionally caught up in it that I needed some distance from it, a day or two to be able to reflect on “Okay, how am I going to address this in a podcast?” etc. [06:19.4]
Then the first thought that came to me was, if I say it’s great, who is going to possibly disagree? Because this was such a moving movie. It was for my wife and I, it was for both of us, our favorite movie overall in the MCU so far. But that’s probably because we’re both really into psychology and not into simplistic depictions of bad guy versus good guy stuff—which, again, there’s a place for that and it’s fun. You can just turn your brain off and just go with it.
But with this one, you not only needed to turn your brain on in a way that’s creative suspension of disbelief of the laws of our current world and all that, and the physics and all that. But in addition, you have to get deep into your heart because a lot of the character development was quite subtle overall and could easily become boring. [07:09.8]
I just felt that there were some parts of me, just the simple warrior part that loves to work out and spar and all that, was yearning for a big fight scene to occur, and there were times where I had to refocus my attention. If you are an ADD Gen Z who is stuck to your phone and needs stimulation every 10 seconds, because that’s how long the pieces of content that you consume are, your mind will probably wander in the middle. But if you’re an adult and you have an attention span and you are creative, and you have some inkling of psychology and you can stay with what is happening emotionally, then you will be rewarded with going deeper than, I think, overall, any MCU movie so far.
This was like a drama movie, not an action movie with some drama in it, and I appreciated that. I think we have enough action movies, and in any case, there’s enough out there with streaming that, if you just want to watch pure fighting, it’s relatively easy to get to, and it’s far more realistic than any movie depiction of fighting. [08:09.2]
I went hunting for bad reviews of Black Panther, because even now I’m just checking here on my phone—Rotten Tomatoes has an 84 percent critics review, “Fresh” or whatever they call it, of approval for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The audience score is 95 percent. I was like, okay, I needed to find some reviews that resonated with some portion, a minority of the world that would disagree and didn’t like Black Panther.
Of course, then I went to YouTube which has– I have content on YouTube and what I’ve seen on YouTube is that it’s giving a platform to the dregs of society, so to speak, and I found it and I watched enough, it was painful. There are a lot of misconceptions and one of the biggest ones was that because this is—I didn’t even realize it at the time, until I stopped and looked back—mostly an all-female cast and almost all Black as it was, as was the case for the original Black Panther, and that this was another example of MCU’s sell-out to wokeness. [09:14.0]
Then they started criticizing the plot points and almost every, I’d say 95 percent of the plot points that they brought up, were actually addressed in the original comic books which were written– The Black Panther first came out in the ’60s. I googled all this. Namor originally appeared in the ’40s. I didn’t even know Marvel had comics in the ’40s, but, yes, there they are and Namor was a character that appeared there.
The plot overall of what we’re seeing in Wakanda Forever and that’s setting up later, I suppose, later on, is drawn from comics that were from 2010, thereabouts, so this isn’t like the MCU writers dreamed this up out of nowhere and decided to create this underwater kingdom and this whole backstory kind of thing. [10:03.3]
Yes, they replaced the setting of it and didn’t want to just have a copy of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman that was already awesome and just calling it Atlantis and all of that, so it makes a lot of sense. Then they can bring in a whole new ethnic group which pissed off a lot of redneck red pillers, who are white men, predominantly, and in, I should say, smaller cities or more rural areas, as well as non-white men who are from conservative societies and they’re all kind of gelling with their conservative values.
As a result, they look at this depiction that the parts of them that are their own shadows that they’ve repressed of sexism and racism come out, and of course, they’re the shadow, which means it’s they’re unconscious repressed parts, so they don’t even know it and it’s hilarious, because the very plot points that they’re criticizing in the movie as examples of wokeness are actually from, in many cases, not just 10 years ago, but even earlier, just the setting up of the whole thing. [11:09.0]
Even the 2010 plot in the comics that were published in the 2010s, portentously and kind of coincidentally, had the Black Panther go into a coma, and as a result, that was when Shuri had to take up the mantle of the Black Panther and fight off Namor. This plot line, a lot of it, was already written, and the inconsistencies about redneck red pillers taking issue with what they call Third-World countries somehow magically having super-advanced technology, that was all written way before.
This is not an example of wokeness. This is an example of Stan Lee and the other writers around that time, including Jack Kirby. There was an example of their ingenuity and creativity, and their wanting to bring in and incorporate different people groups. [11:59.8]
I wanted to point out to the ridiculousness of the wokeness critique of this movie, because, unfortunately, the easiest place to make comments to my podcast episodes is still YouTube, because most of the audio podcast platforms don’t make it easy to comment on specific episodes, and I know that on YouTube the more extreme elements are overrepresented.
Plus, as I discovered after I did my research into these negative reviews of Black Panther were basically redneck red pillers, lo and behold, my feed was flooded with similar content that had a lot of toxic anger and resentment, and so forth. I wiped the– what are they called? The search history and watch history, and that’s how you teach the algorithm to serve you what you want to see. I actually recommend that everyone routinely clear off their search and watch history for YouTube so that you can get a better representation of what is out there in terms of the content and you’re not siloed. [12:59.7]
The algorithms trying to hone in on your preferences are great for things like music, so you want to teach Spotify, for example, what type of music you like so it can just keep serving that to you. But when it comes to your views about important issues, especially psychology, you want to make sure that you don’t get forced into a box and then are ignorant of all the other views, because it feels like guys who are stuck in this sort of bitterness and resentment think that this is actually the way of the world.
They forget to look at things like the fact that 85 percent of critic reviews are super positive, and 95 percent of audience reviews are, and they think, Oh, most people didn’t like Black Panther, because I actually came across comments like that on these reviews. It makes sense if you don’t clear off or blank-slate your search and watch history, as well as the channels that you subscribe to, which will also teach the platform what to show you. You’ve got to work actively, especially nowadays, against the confirmation bias, which we already have even before the algorithms are encouraging it. [14:03.8]
Okay, long enough preamble. Don’t buy into the myth that this is another example of wokeness. Instead, look at it. If you watched it and you didn’t enjoy it or if you got bored, that’s because you don’t appreciate psychology deeply enough yet, and maybe what you would like is to just turn off your brain so that you can have an easy, simplistic superhero movie of good guys kicking ass against the bad guys and you want a one-dimensional bad guy.
I even read some reviews from critics saying it hurt the movie that Namor was so ambiguous that we felt for Namor. It’s like, what? That was one of the best parts of the movie that we recognized or, obviously, for those who are psychologically inclined, we were able to recognize the identity of Namor and Shuri, right? That final battle was the dissent of Shuri into giving into her shadow, and Killmonger obviously representing her shadow. When she met him there, she immediately said something like “I’m nothing like you,” and it’s just obvious to all of us that, no girl, you are him right now. [15:06.5]
M’Baku, who countered and was able to work through his shadow issues in a super– I mean, we didn’t get to go deep into his character, but he seemed to. He had a minor character arc in that first movie where he worked through that part, those parts of him, the shadow that wanted to take over power and so on, and was able to join forces with the Black Panther and so forth.
In this other movie now, in the second movie, he is a lot more mature and he provides this wise perspective having gone through that in that conversation where Shuri shows up as the Black Panther and saying she wants vengeance, and being lost in her hatred and anger and resentment. It was obvious, right? It was obvious to M’Baku, so we were M’Baku there observing this. [15:53.6]
This was paralleling, in many ways, the hero’s journey that you see with Anakin turning into Darth Vader, right? This is still that same beautiful descent into hell. Luckily, it resolved in one movie, so it didn’t drag out into three whole movies like it did for that unfortunate Star Wars prequel. In fact, if anything, for me as a psychologist, I felt it was too quick and too neat and tidy. But what do you expect? It’s a comic book movie and it was already almost three hours. They packed so much storytelling into it in a really great way, in my opinion, of character development for multiple characters that it was already a remarkable feat.
First, if you hadn’t watched or listened to the first earlier three episodes on the shadow and the shadow parts, you might be wondering, what the heck is the shadow? Okay, so the shadow or shadows, in my opinion—there could be multiple parts of you that are shadows—shadows are repressed parts of us that have been exiled or disowned, and thrust into our unconscious. They’re still there. You might think that you killed it off, or, for most people, they’re not even aware that these are parts of them at all. [17:03.0]
Why it’s so important that you discover your shadow parts and work with them is because they’re still working there underneath the surface and they’re probably going to cause you a lot of anger and unease, and anxiety. You might find yourself triggered by things and develop a very strong emotional reaction against something. It’s like you really hate this person or this behavior, or what they represent, and you hate it in an almost irrational way that takes you over, in a way that it doesn’t feel good to you. But you have this self-righteous kind of view of it, so you’re blinded to your shadow, and because you’re blinded to it, the shadow is literally in your unconscious, so you’re unconscious of it.
By definition, you’ve repressed it into your unconscious, when, originally, these were parts of you, and in your childhood, you discovered, these parts discovered, that they couldn’t be how they are. Otherwise, you or they would lose the love, connection, approval, or attention of your parental caregivers or parental figures. As a result, they went into hiding where they were forced into hiding, and you suppress them. [18:11.5]
After you suppress them long enough, you’ve forgotten that you’ve suppressed them, or you’re so used to suppressing them that it becomes an unconscious automatic reflex and it’s always there and it hardens, and after you suppress long enough, it becomes repression. It becomes unconscious repression and that’s where the shadow lurks, and the shadow will sabotage under the surface, behind the scenes, in the shadows, in the dark.
You’ll know that a shadow part or parts of you are at work or responding or reacting to something when you have a strong triggered reaction that, in your more rational or cool frame of mind, seems out of proportion to the actual event happening right then and there. [18:54.4]
Of course, we have those rational parts of us that kick in to rationalize our emotional reaction to it and that’s really important to be able to just stay aware of that emotional, self-righteous judgment and anger against something. The stronger that reaction is, the stronger that part of you is that you’re trying to repress. The stronger the shadow itself is.
We discover in the movie that Shuri’s shadow was incredibly powerful and took her over out of her grief and her emotional pain, and not knowing how to handle it, because, clearly, through most of the movie, she was in denial of it. She was in denial of the grief and had this sort of ultra-rationalistic approach to life, and as a result, she had nowhere to turn to give her guidance for how to deal with the fact that now the people that she loved are gone and that she’ll never be able to contact them again, and she was just given into her vengeance and anger. [19:57.5]
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Namor is an even more interesting character actually because they’ve written his character or actually right from the comic books as about 500 years old, so he has got 500 years of burdens of trauma that he’s carrying, so it’s not going to be as easy as it was for Shuri to have her mom sort of there. This was not explained well, why, how and why her mom was so easily able to penetrate the spirit barrier between the spirit world and our world, or I don’t know, Universe-616 or whatever they call it. [21:08.8]
And appear to Shuri and tell her that great line that appeared in the earlier movie, “Show him who you are,” and then in this case, it was the opposite from what it was for her brother and that was the beautiful climax of that fight scene. Then, apparently, she was unburdened and she went through this huge character arc with two and a half hours—so for a psychotherapist, you’re like, Yeah, right. But it’s understandable and that’s really cool writing.
But for Namor, he’s still struggling with it and he was, of course, touched by her compassion and so on and he softened, until his environment, in the example, in the scene after is the woman who was egging him on and then he goes back into the machinations, the Machiavellianism and so forth, and these are all ways of protecting against pain. [21:57.0]
Both for Shuri and Namor, the shadows are protector parts and they’re protecting more vulnerable parts of them from experiencing pain that was unbearable or overwhelming, and they’ve devised these strategies or methods for protecting, and in these cases, it’s an aggression.
A lot of these towards the end, the fight scenes, didn’t make sense. The battle scenes, they were irrational, obviously. You’re watching it as if you were in it, saying, “This is really dumb, why these two people groups are fighting. They should party.” I was just waiting for Namor’s people to come out the water at the end and have a big feast together and celebrate their peace. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. But you’re looking at it as, you all have so much trauma in common; why don’t you just, from the beginning, band together.
Of course, there’s all of these kind of miscommunications. You see this with House of the Dragon. The whole thing rests on a misunderstanding from an old man muttering something. Hopefully, you have seen that one. I just spoiled it for you, but there you go, right? [22:57.4]
Of course, it is a valid criticism from liberals that the MCU is co-opting real-life historical, traumatic events, multiple events, and working them into their script and sort of profiting off them. But I think it’s actually not so much profiting off them, but actually giving them more publicity, because it hasn’t been talked about much. People like to go to these comic book movies to turn their brains off and just watch good guys fight bad guys, and then they uncritically take that paradigm that they’ve been brainwashed into out into the real world in their own lives, and now we have the simplistic “us vs. them” mindset.
What they’re doing in Phase Four is brilliant from a psychotherapeutic perspective, because they’re showing the gray, and a big part of what you’re going to do, if you want to heal your shadow, is to be able to realize that for every person or act that makes you feel that self-righteous anger, say to yourself, “But for the grace of God there go I.” [24:00.8]
That sort of attitude that that could have been me if not for some character traits or personality traits, or my environment or my upbringing that was largely outside my own control or choosing, like the parents I was born into or the country that I was born into, and the environments and the opportunities that I had. A lot of it was, of course, your hard work, but even your hard work, how hard you work, how industrious you are, how ambitious you are, a lot of that is genetic as well.
When you have the humility to be able to say that there are parts of you or a part of you that could have been like that, if things had gone differently in your life or if you allowed it, if you gave it permission or if you didn’t work with that part or those parts, then you will have, naturally, compassion flowing out of you for those. [24:51.8]
All of the anger that’s coming up in you that you don’t like the sort of out-of-proportion, disproportionate self-righteous anger and judgment against these people or that behavior, or a whole country, that natural reaction that you have when you’re triggered, that will naturally go away once you’re able to access the position or state of your higher self, which will come about naturally as you are able to hold in view your shadow parts.
That was the first point, just mentioning very briefly some of the more obvious shadows, like Shuri, the Killmonger. Namor had his own shadow parts there. You see, in the first Black Panther movie, T’Challa went through his character or story arc that allowed him to confront his shadow, as a result of grappling with Wakanda’s shadow.
Wakanda’s shadow is modern Africa and all of their legacy, the legacy that they endured of slavery and exploitation and so forth, and the state in which they still are like which we have in our world. That was their shadow and he’s trying now, or at least at the end of that movie, coming to terms with it and owning up to it, and trying to heal it. [26:03.3]
Of course, his cousin Killmonger was also a representation of his shadow. You can see these villain characters as those who have given into their more aggressive elements that, to use the concept of the shadow, presupposes that you have a persona. What happens for these villains is, when they give into their shadow, the shadow, what used to be the shadow now becomes their persona, and that’s what makes them, for that moment or for that period of time, the bad guy.
Okay, so let’s return to you. What are you supposed to do with the shadow? Okay, overall, there are four broad steps and the first is to encounter your shadow and this presupposes that you are even aware of it. I guess the pre-step is having an awareness of the shadow, which is, by definition, unconscious. You’ve got to bring it out of your unconscious and make that conscious, a conscious focus. You’ve got to just notice it, the inklings of it. [26:59.0]
You’ve got these little tugs in your conscience that if you were to pause and become a little bit more humble and a little bit more self-critical of your own triggered arguments of your own self-righteousness and so forth, you’re able to notice, “Hmm, I have a part of me that’s like that, that Hulk,” for instance, or “that one that’s lazy that I hate,” speaking to you achievers, or for the right and the left in America in a lot of the world.
The right hates the left and the left hates the right with great vehemence. You might want to just be humble enough to notice that there are parts of you or a part, at least a part of you that also resonates with that point of view, and for all I know, I’ve just lost all Americans right there. But, hopefully, you have the humility to stay with it and the curiosity to say, “Huh, maybe there is something to that,” right?
It’s the same and I’ll give an example for me of the Red Pill, I don’t feel any anger towards them because I used to be deep in the red pill myself for at least six months when my girlfriend of many years cheated on me and then flaunted it publicly in her social media, and she had a lot of followers and all that stuff, and that hurt my narcissistic persona’s parts that were out front. This was several years ago. [28:14.4]
As a result, I dove deep into this very bitter and resentful, incredibly unhappy, angry existence and state of how it is to be in the manosphere or these men’s movements, whether they’re red pill, incel, MGTOW, whatever it is. I’m able to feel for them because I feel for that part of me that was angry in that moment, needing retribution, just like Shuri and Namor do, and again, these are protective mechanisms. These are protective measures against being hurt again.
That’s what Namor was doing. He was trying to do a preemptive strike, and I had skirted that point about not having more representations in Hollywood and these comic book movies of the awful things that happened with the colonialists and the Mayan people and what became known as Latin America, their invasion and pillaging of that, and just decimating of that population and indeed of that world. [29:15.2]
We have plenty of pop culture references to Hitler and the Nazis. After all, Hydra is all about that. It’s integrated into that narrative. It’s really cool to see that, in this one movie, we have two huge parts of the world represented and they get their mythology just as China and maybe East Asia gets theirs in the MCU through Shang-Chi. It was great to welcome Latin America into the MCU.
Anyway, the first step is to encounter your shadow, just to notice it, and then when you notice it, to be able to move towards it and not repress it any longer. That’s a huge first step. Then the second step is to stay long enough with it to understand it. I have made an episode where I read out the Dog Story, and if I forget the number of it, just google it or just stick it into the search engine there on YouTube or whatever and look up “David Tian Dog Story” and you ought to be able to find it. [30:10.5]
The Dog Story, it depicts, as I read it out, the rhythm and pacing that it usually takes to get to an understanding of the parts of you that are repressing your unconscious that have been exiled, and it takes patience and you’ll just keep coming back to it, and bit by bit, you understand it deeper and deeper. Eventually, you’ll be able to help these parts let go of their burdens, and so in Shuri’s case, you saw her unburden right there at the end of the movie where she said, “Yield,” instead of killing the guy.
Namor has not yet unburdened, but at least he feels a bit more understood and so forth, so he softens. But we’re talking 500 years of trauma, right? So, it makes sense. If Namor unburdens, what happens is then he’s able to let go of the need to get revenge and the protective mechanism that’s required to kill the innocent bad guys first, which in his mind, the bad guys are the surface world. Right? [31:12.2]
Because he, as a child, didn’t understand what was actually happening, he just thought that obviously all surface-world people are like that, are like the conquistadors, and so it makes sense, right? We already are starting to have an understanding of the protective parts of Namor and just getting an idea of how difficult it will be for these protective parts to let go of this burden that he has been caring for 500 years.
Eventually, when they’re able to unburden to let go of the emotions, the judgements, the thoughts, these emotions and neurotic patterns that they took on from responding to those events back then, once they’re able to let go of those, then they can be integrated into the greater system inside, including the parts that are more dominant, maybe persona parts. [31:59.6]
Then there’s going to be a shift in the whole system. Other parts are going to move around and there’s going to be a whole kind of, for weeks or months, a period of constant shifting and moving around, and this might lead some guys, if when they’re first experiencing this for one shadow part or one part that was in their unconscious, they might experience a lot of emotional release that might catch them off guard throughout the day, and so they’re going to be afraid of it. But it’s all part of the healing process.
Those are the big four steps: They encounter the shadow part; come to an understanding of it; eventually, further down, being able to unburden or help the part unburden; and then to be able to then integrate it into the shadow part, into the rest of your system, the rest of the parts of you.
The best way to do that is through an IFS Therapy process, far more developed than the original Jungian way to do it or shadow work. There are many different ways to do shadow work. The most sophisticated, in my opinion, is IFS Therapy, and if you want a recorded course that leads you pretty far along that process, especially the encounter, understand and unburdened parts or processes or steps, I highly recommend my online courses, like Freedom U. You can get access to all of them in the Platinum Partnership. [33:18.6]
Finally, I just want to address the shadows in, potentially, you, and I want to just bring up two common shadows among my audience and the first is angry parts. A lot of guys who end up being nice guys or white knight, they want to be good guys. A lot of them repress their anger. They don’t know what to do with it.
Usually, when they were angry, it was punished by their caregivers or parents or whatever, or society, and they had to repress the parts of them that were angry or they witnessed other adults. I mean, while they were children, they witnessed the adults in their lives, like their dad or somebody like that, get really angry, and as a result, they have parts that are afraid of anger. [34:00.5]
Whatever the reason or sources of it, they repress their own angry parts or any anger that comes up in their parts that they don’t know how to deal with the anger. The first step is just to notice that you have these triggers of becoming, either you become really angry and you don’t like it, and just notice that that’s a breadcrumb to that part of you that’s angry and reacting to something else. Notice the trigger itself, that’s really important. What is it that triggers this emotional reaction?
Then notice the reaction. Notice the trigger and the reaction in you. Both of those, you need to keep there in your awareness, because that’s where the work begins, noticing the trigger and becoming curious about why that trigger is doing it for you, and then following that to the part that’s actually being triggered. It’s about the trigger and the one being triggered in you.
A great example of this is the end of Oscar-winning movie American Beauty, starring Kevin Spacey, and in the movie, there is this big spoiler alert, but this won so many Academy Awards and it was so long ago. I don’t think I’m spoiling it for anyone. Hopefully, you’ve already watched this. [35:15.0]
In the movie, there is a military dad and he’s super hard on his son, and he accuses his son over and over of being gay. Then you see, at the end of the movie, he tries to kiss Kevin Spacey because, of course, he is a closeted gay man. His gay part or parts are obviously his shadow and there’s a clue to his shadow because of the degree of anger disproportionately and, of course, suspicion of his son being gay and hating on gay so much that thou doth protesteth too much, right?
The more you hate something, the more reaction you have against it, the more likely there’s a part of you, the shadow in you that you are trying to repress. All that energy that you’re putting into the hatred of the other is actually a projection of the energy that you’re using to repress those parts of yourself. [36:07.2]
Notice the things that make you most angry, because that’s a clue. Like a breadcrumb, if you follow it back, you’ll discover your own shadow parts that you’ve been repressing, disowning, exiling. For achievers, a lot of achievers are afraid of their lazy parts that if they didn’t crack the whip and force themselves to work super hard, and pull all-nighters and burn the midnight oil that they’d end up just being lazy bums, do nothing, right? They’ll just sit there and veg out.
What that tells me is, and especially the more that they’re afraid of the laziness in themselves, the more that they have a strong part– First of all, they have parts that are feeling burnt out and they just need a freaking vacation, so there’s that. But in addition, there are also parts of them that are creative or spontaneous, and maybe artistic, that aren’t being allowed to have the freedom to explore, because in order to explore creativity, you have to be relaxed. [37:04.4]
But, instead, they’re using this really anal retentive, this really tense, anxious energy to get stuff done. As a result, their vision narrows. They get stuff done, but in a kind of robotic fashion and it’s not going to actually allow them to access their potential for creativity, originality, and so forth, because that requires you to relax.
What I tell achiever, something, luckily, I had that energy right through high school. I was afraid of being lazy. This was drummed into me by my society, by my Asian community and all that, until I read What Smart Students Know by Adam Robinson, a great book for those who are trying to learn how to learn.
There I learned this principle that no one is actually lazy or unmotivated. They’re just lazy and unmotivated to do what school is telling them or what the teacher assigns them, but they’re still doing something, and if you want to excel in school, you’re going to have to figure out some way to make it interesting to yourself. But what I also discovered as a result is “Oh, I have these other parts that are naturally interested in these other things, and I wonder if there’s a way to make money from that or to turn that into a career,” and lo and behold, that’s what I’ve done over and over. [38:10.7]
First, I even had a career that was quite lucrative of being a pick-up artist coach because that was fun and there was a way to do that and monetize that, and that just came from my own natural curiosity to not be afraid of parts that an achiever might consider to be lazy, but, instead, turn to them and realize, “Oh, they’re just motivated to do other things,” because if you’re smart, you’re not just going to sit on a beach for very long because it gets boring; you’re going to want to get up and do something.
Unfortunately, that “do something” might be not what the achiever wants. It might not be math homework, right? It might be something else. It might be making music or something and that’s perfectly legitimate, and it’s not laziness. What you need to do is have that freedom of space and energy and time to be able to explore that.
Okay, to recap, we covered how the shadows are displayed in this amazing movie, Wakanda Forever, and Shuri, Killmonger, Namor, and many other characters actually. Then we looked very briefly at the four steps of what to do with the shadow, to encounter, understand, unburden, and integrate. [39:11.3]
Then I have addressed examples of shadows in yourself and in society, the right and the left, and common shadows. For nice guys, their shadow would be or one of their many shadows would be the angry parts, and then for achievers, the lazy parts. It’s really important that you focus, that you take this seriously, that you focus on the parts of you that are reacting in this really strong, out-of-proportion way, because if you don’t find and work with your shadow parts, they will undermine you and sabotage you in so many ways. Most importantly, they will stop you from experiencing lasting happiness and fulfillment.
For those achievers out there, if you don’t work with your shadow parts, you won’t be able to fulfill your full potential for creativity, originality and success in life, and I know that scares achievers. Go to your shadows. Study them. Focus on them. Do that work. Invest in yourself to discover for yourself this lasting fulfillment and to fulfill your potential. [40:08.4]
Okay, if you liked this podcast episode, let me know. Hit a like on the platforms and leave me a comment, I’d love to hear feedback. Share this with anyone that you think could benefit from it. Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. David Tian, signing out.
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