I usually don’t use the words shadow or projection these days. And that’s perhaps a good reason to see what these words would mean to me now.
For instance, shadow is usually defined as:
A dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface. (Physical definition.)
In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to (1) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious (2) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not recognize in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of ones personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in ones shadow (especially in people with low self esteem). (Wikipedia.)
For me right now, focusing mostly on The Work, I see that any thought – when taken as true – comes with it’s own shadow.
The shadow of a thought is, to put it simply, (a) the truth in the turnarounds of the thought, and recognizing (b) that it’s just a thought, an innocent question about the world, and has no absolute or final truth in it. This is what’s not recognized, especially at a felt level, when a thought is taken as true.
If I – in a certain situation – think that life is unfair and take that thought as true, then it’s shadow is examples of (a) how life is fair and (b) how I am unfair (in my thinking about life), and (c) that it’s a thought, an innocent question, and I honestly cannot know.
If I think that M. is caught up in conspiracy theories, and believe that thought, then the shadow is examples of (a) how M. is not caught up in conspiracy theories, (b) how I am caught up in conspiracy theories (about him, life), and (c) that it’s a thought, an assumption, a question, and that I don’t know.
The second example fits with how Jung saw the shadow, as far as I understand. I see something in M. that’s also, and more honestly, in me – including in how I view him as I believe the thought about him. The first example is perhaps a bit broader than how Jung used the word shadow, and still equally valid – for me at least – as a shadow.
To me, this is a more interesting way of looking at the shadow right now. It seems to align with and include Jung’s view on the shadow, and yet also be a little more finely grained and go more to the “root” of how the shadow is created.
Note: Why don’t I use the words shadow and projection? They can be very useful as a shorthand, and yet, they are also not very finely grained and don’t quite align with what’s going on when I take a closer look.