The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.— Carl Jung
The shadow self, coined by Carl Jung, was seen as the projection of intolerable aspects of the self onto others. We will find fault in others that are actually projections of unwanted aspects of ourselves. We see this behavior all the time in the world of politics. Collectively, political groups often accuse opposing groups of engaging in the behavior those of us watching can clearly see in the group making the charge.
It seems obvious to us when we are watching the melodrama play out in other groups, but when it is us, well, that is a different matter altogether.
Looking in the mirror, we don’t always see what others see. It is hard for us to see that we all have violence, anger, aggression, racism and the like in ourselves. It is much easier to imagine that those things only exist in others.
Projection is a defense that we use to avoid facing the fact that unwanted behaviors, the ones we see so readily in others, are actually parts of ourselves that we are avoiding. The shadow, as Jung puts it, is in all of us, and a part of all of us. If we can learn to deal with it in ourselves, then the need to project onto others diminishes. Pretty soon we will stop blaming mental illness, or whatever for the violence we are trying to stop, and see that it is in all of us. I think once that happens, we can really start to deal with the ills of society. Drop the defense of projection, see what exists in all of us, and start a real dialogue about change.
—Stephen Taylor, M.D.