By Sarbari Gomes
“My dark side, my shadow, my lower companion is now in the back room blowing up balloons for kids’ parties” – Gary Busey
“So, tell me about the shadows,” said she, her eyes twinkling in amusement and inquisitiveness.
I looked at her eager enthusiastic expression and said, “well, I was thinking about a fairly easy definition about shadows the other day and what immediately came to mind was what we deal with daily, i.e. our own shadows that lie just behind us”. She seemed amused.
I continued: “ take the shadow of our body; it is always following us wherever we go but when we think and look at ourselves, we only see what is ahead of the shadow, i.e. our body that we can see and what is in the light. While rationally we know that the shadow is behind us, in our conscious idea of ourselves, it is never a part of us.”
She seemed a bit puzzled now – she must have been thinking that what has our physical shadow has to do with the concept of shadows in the EUM I framework? I agreed with her in silence, It is true, the idea can be quite puzzling.
I decided to try a different route to take the discussion on shadows forward. I asked her about her scores in EUM I and she said, “oh well, um, you know my USD scores are quite low and my UPA is quite high but so is my UMI. I am wondering what do they mean for me though the report made a lot of sense to me, and I am quite keen to work as an internal coach in my work organisation”. I did not want get into this discussion right then. Lets come back to the shadows.
“I noticed that while you were driving, you were kind of in a hurry; do you always drive like that? In a hurry, I mean?” I asked her.
She frowned and answered, “Was I? May be sometimes yes, but not all the time”.
We both smiled
. “But why do you ask?”
“What makes you being in a hurry?”
“Um… I don’t know, may be I am like that only – you know – I like to be in control at all times and don’t like being left behind.” She gave me a full-throated laugh.
We were having lunch in one of those boutique restaurants at Indira Nagar at Bangalore. The food was tasty and crisp and we felt relaxed in each other’s company. The waiter kept hovering around the table. I waited for the waiter to finish and leave.
“So the shadow is a bit like that, while your scores on USD is not very high, your need for control and power has not reduced or gone away, and manifests itself through driving, may be”!
“You are so right, you know?” “I definitely see myself having a lot of need for control and significance at my work place. And when I do not receive the significance or when I don’t have the control, it disturbs me a lot and I tend to withdraw” She took a pause . “Ha, ha, and here I am, thinking of myself as someone is not aggressive or is not power hungry”. She laughs at herself, ability that I have started liking about her. “Ok, ok, if we leave the labels aside for the time being, let’s look at this phenomena itself.
When the EUM Framework suggests that all universes are in us simultaneously and not in an hierarchy, it simply means that just because the scores are very low of one or more universes, that DOES NOT mean that the needs and desires of that universe(s) are absent in us.
It simply means that they are likely to manifest themselves indirectly, rather than directly. Pretty much like our physical shadow that hangs around behind or besides us without our imminent awareness. So when our scores say, in Universe of Strength and Desire (USD) is low, it means that we may have a value conflict or a moral judgment or a lack of preference about that universe. However, that does not mean that the needs, attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours are absent in us. If this universe score were low, we would simply be unaware of those needs arising out of that (of significance, power, control, etc.) and thus consciously deny them to ourselves. Let’s make it even simpler: Let’s look at two scenarios as far as shadows are concerned:
- Shadows of a Universe
- Shadows in a Universe
1. Shadows of an Universe:
This would mean that if we deny (if the universe score is low) then the needs of that universe would be expressed by our behaviour in other universes, without our direct knowledge or intent. Let’s look at an example: Say, someone’s UBP score is low; there is a possibility that the person may be making all or some of these statements to herself:
- I don’t need safety from my context and I don’t believe that the outside is dangerous
- I don’t need a sense of continuity with my context
- I don’t want to put down my roots anywhere and get entrenched
- I prefer self sufficiency
- I prefer pursuing my self interest/aspiration and my sense of adventure
- I do not have blind faith and I like to question and then accept if needed
While all of these would be true for the her conscious belief and actions, her needs for safety, need to belong, need to depend on others or put faith in something or someone would not have gone away.
However, chances are that this person would be fulfilling her “need for safety” through over acquisition, over assertion of personal space and privacy (would be expressed through USD), over engagement with order and structure (would be expressed through URB), heightened vigilance about being perceived as a dependent person (through USD again) etc.
Also possible that this person would be fulfilling her “need to belong” through heightened achievement orientation in a group of achievers (through UPA), or in restless wandering and futile pursuit of the next challenge, or becoming a pawn in other people’s schemes (through USD).
She was listening deeply and quietly. Our soups were getting cold, so I stopped to take a pause and looked at her. She seemed to have been lost in some thoughts. “What happened?”
“Hmmm. I was actually thinking about my relationship with my parents and how much of what you have just said resonated with my experience of growing up, specially in my home state”
“And what is interesting is that both your UBP and your USD scores patterns suggest that you identify little with both of these universes and neither do you wish to foster them in you”
“Yes, that’s right. So if my USD scores are also low, how would I be expressing the shadows of UBP in USD?”
“Good question! It is possible that you would be expressing your need for safety, belonging, adventure, prowess and significance through URB or UPA or UMI. Moreover your UMI score is very high, which presents an interesting possibility”
“This then brings us to the second point that I was referring to above, i.e. Shadows in an Universe. Let’s look at that too, shall we?”
“I am all ears”, came the warm smile again.
2. Shadows in an Universe
Shadows in a universe essentially indicate that all the other universes which are denied would be expressed through one ore more of the universes that are prominent in us. In this case, let’s say, UMI, which is a high in your case, would have shadows of both your denied UBP and USD being expressed in disguise! Let’s look at how some of that may happen”
- It is possible that your innate competitiveness and need for potency for self that are denied in the USD may create overt “ideological supremacy” and covert power centers and clans.
- Making personal/own group aspiration secondary to larger good gives rise to insidious power games in the name of political stances; simply put, glorifying euphemisms such as “selflessness” without taking care of your and others needs may actually come from a need of power and postures.
- Denial of instrumentality (if UPA is also low, which is so in your case) makes learning/performance a secondary priority; in other words, you may not fulfill your potential and may have a sense of drift by not setting a goal for performance for yourself.
- Denial of wholeness of self and others (which is an integral part of USD) makes part hood/ togetherness compulsive and oppressive; Very simply put, it can make “affection and love” very oppressive to others, i.e. in the name of love, one may actually try to “control” others.
- Denial or undesirability of certain human aspects makes humanness into a sanitized, constructed reality, for example dealing with conflict, chaos, aggression may force you to suppress your real feelings and present a “sanitized, acceptable civil face” to the world.
I finished and concentrated on my food. I also wondered whether this was too much at one go!
She stopped eating and looked up at me. “You know, what you just said made a lot of sense to me, and I can correlate some of my stances both at work and at home, in my relationships too. Now I can also see the links with the report that I have received. But you know what is more exciting?”
Her eyes twinkled in excitement!
“what is more exciting is that now I understand what are shadows in the EUM I framework and I cant wait to get back at work and use this in the internal coaching”
I smiled – I also learnt along with her as I was clarifying my thoughts about shadows.
“Is it ok if I use our conversation as a piece for writing about the shadows on the EUM blog, without naming you of course?” I asked her.
“Sure, no problem” smiled she.
We finished the meal with dessert was pecan pie and it was delicious!! Outside, the afternoon was about to cast its shadows over us! Time to say goodbye!
“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole” – C G Jung