Why are people so annoying? Jung Explains
HINT: It has to do with what you see in the mirror
The friend who is always late
The roommate who never washes their dishes
The co-worker who gets away with doing nothing all day
These are the kinds of people that can send you to the store for eggs and toilet paper
Why do THEY get to show up late when YOU skipped breakfast to get there on time?
How is it that THEY are okay with you washing THEIR dishes when YOU never leave yours for anyone else?
Where do THEY get the nerve to flaunt their boredom at work when YOU'RE busy busting your tail each day?
If only it were that simple to reach your Phillips head into the Soul of another and make a few improvements. But as we know, we CAN’T change other people… all we can change is ourselves.
But what IS there to change in this situation when clearly it is the OTHER that has got it all wrong?
This is where Carl Jung comes to the rescue.
Jung helped humanity discover that there is an unconscious part in all of us called The Shadow.
Look at it this way: when you were little and you first said “I love you”, your parents may have wrapped their arms around you and showered their love and kisses upon you. This type of praise and encouragement was an unconscious message to you that these words and actions are accepted in the light of day.
But wherever there is light, there is always a shadow to be cast. In this case, to say the opposite (“I hate you”) to your parents would have been deeply discouraged, even punished.
If this sounds like your upbringing then you learned that to express your love for someone is an action that is welcomed into the Light, while expressions of disdain are to be hidden in the Shadows.
I always imagine that we are born with a big empty bag that we carry behind us in the shadows that fills up quickly:
Don’t touch the stove
Don’t be late
Don’t be messy
Don’t be lazy
But of course, our cultural and ancestral beliefs and values are so vastly different, from family to family and person to person. Which means no two shadow bags are the same!
Let’s take this anger towards the late person as an example.
The always-on-time person may hold the value that it is considered incredibly rude to make someone wait for you. Therefore the action of being on time is always out in the Light while being late goes in the Shadow Bag.
In the meanwhile, let’s say the chronically late person has a strong value in always being prepared. An action such as taking your time to make sure you have everything you'll need is one that goes into the Light while forgetting important things can be exiled to the Shadow Bag.
You can see how these value systems are at odds with one another! The on-time person may want the late person to betray their values and just hurry the hell up while the late person may want the on-time person to betray their values and just let people wait!
But the remedy here is not to change one another’s value systems. Rather, it is to bring awareness to what’s really making you mad.
What’s really making you mad is that this person, right before your very eyes, has chosen to bring into the light something that you may have spent a lifetime pushing deep into your Shadow Bag.
Irritation is almost always our natural response when we see someone bringing our own Shadow material into the Light and flaunting it in our faces.
So really, it is this confrontation with our own selves, the Shadow part of our selves that stirs the pot.
Would life be easier if we never had to confront this stuff?
Hells yeah it would be!
But would we have the opportunity to heal and grow without an awareness of it?
“A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor.”
By not facing our shadows we not only miss our chance to heal and grow but we are more likely to live our lives in a misguided way, blindly being led by our Shadow parts rather than by our Souls.
So the next time you are imagining your hands around someone's neck, know that it is your own shadow parts you are yearning to strangle.
And since strangling anyone - yourself included - is not an effective long-term solution, see if you can catch yourself in the moment's awareness. Dust off these discarded values that you have stuffed so deeply away into your Shadow bag, not to exile them but to hold them with non-judgment and loving kindness. And then let your Soul decide what it wants to do next. In it's deep wisdom it always has the answers.
Adrienne Cress is an Expressive Arts Therapist and co-founder of The Loveliness.