Finding the Gold in the Mud: Integrity is the key to Individuation

I will never forget the day that I was presented to the concept of integrity. It was early in my analysis. For several years, I had been tipping toeing around a core issue. That morning, I woke up resolved to come clean about a nasty and unpleasant side of myself – or at least that is what I thought. As I climbed the rickety old wood stairs leading to my analyst’s 3rd floor office, the shame intensified with each step. By the time, I sat in the chair, I needed to muster all my courage to admit the thing that I would do anything not to admit.

She was quiet for a long time. Her face was calm, peaceful, and reflective. My anxiety deepened with each passing second. My mind raced anticipating all the things that she could possibly say in response. Then, she threw a monkey wrench into my psyche – a proverbial stick in the wheels of my habitual thinking. “Yes, I have known this for awhile.” After a slight pause, she said “What I remember the most about people is the integrity that they bring to the work.”

What! I thought I had done a pretty good job of hiding out. It was rude awakening to realize that my shadow was in plain view.

It was years later when I was writing my thesis and reflecting on Jung’s ethical confrontation with the unconscious that her words and the underlying compassion began to carve their way into my heart. They nurtured the compassion and loving kindness that I have for anyone (including myself) who must painfully acknowledge the shameful aspects of themselves – the SHADOW.

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