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“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung

The Ego’s Role in the Dark Night

When you’re plunged into the abyss of the dark night, the ego tends to freak out. That’s why I call it the ‘Dark Night of the Ego, and Dawn of the Soul.’ This actually more closely aligns to the original poem that spawned the term ‘Dark Night’. (Read more about my analysis of San Juan de la Cruz’s original poem, ‘Noche Oscura‘, here.)

The ego wants to be right, to find meaning, to latch onto whatever semblance of reality it can. But here’s the twist: it can’t. Not entirely. The ego is blindfolded in this labyrinth, but that doesn’t mean it has to stand still.

Ah, the Ego. That incessant chatterbox in your head, always demanding attention, always yearning to make sense of the chaos. Often seen as the ‘villain’ in the tale of spiritual growth, the ego doesn’t have to be a roadblock on your journey from the dark night to the dawn of the soul. What if, instead, we could enlist the ego’s ceaseless drive for understanding and give it something genuinely valuable to do? Enter the practice of Shadow Work.

The Beauty of Shadow Work

Carl Jung introduced the concept of the Shadow as the repository for parts of ourselves we’ve disowned, neglected, or shoved into the attic of our unconscious mind. These could be repressed emotions, past traumas, or even hidden talents and qualities. Essentially, these are aspects we’ve tagged as ‘unworthy’ for the outside world to see. Yet, they are as much a part of us as our acknowledged traits.

Aligning Shadow Work with the Cornerstone Process

In the Real Self Love Handbook, I outline a holistic, bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework for navigating the dark night of the ego. This 5-step process is exactly what led me on my journey from depression and self-loathing to blossoming in self-love and compassion.

Now, in the first steps of my Cornerstone Process—Awareness and Acceptance—Shadow Work finds a snug home. It’s all about becoming aware of these hidden aspects and then accepting them, sans judgment. And don’t forget Accountability; after all, these are your shadows.

Why the Ego Likes Shadow Work

So, why would your ego enjoy this? Shadow Work gives the ego a purpose that aligns with its natural inclinations. It can analyze, categorize, and even feel like it’s solving a ‘problem.’ Yet, at the same time, this very process opens the door for something much deeper: integration and healing, the pathway from dark night to dawn.

Reflective Questions and Journal Prompts

  • Identify Your Shadow Traits: What are traits you dislike in others that might be reflecting a disowned part of yourself?
  • Emotions as Messengers: The next time a ‘negative’ emotion arises, ask yourself, what is this feeling trying to reveal to me?
  • Dialog with the Shadow: If your shadow could speak, what would it say? Write a letter from your shadow to you.
  • Accountability Check: How can acknowledging your shadow aspects help you take more responsibility in your life?
  • Integrating the Shadow: Imagine a scenario where your shadow traits could be assets rather than liabilities. How would that change your behavior?

Surrender: The Final Frontier

You might have already guessed it. The ultimate goal is to surrender, to let go of the ego’s reins and allow your higher Self, your soul, to guide you to the dawn. But let’s be real; surrender isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s a process, often a lengthy one. And during that process, tools like Shadow Work and frameworks like the Cornerstone Process can be your best allies.

Conclusion

The ego might be ill-equipped to lead you out of the dark night, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a helpful companion. Through practices like Shadow Work, integrated within the Cornerstone Process, you give your ego something to ‘do’—something that can facilitate your ultimate transition into the light of a new dawn.

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More posts in the Dark Night to Dawn Series here.

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