The constantly thickening veil of illusion

Jung named the shadow as the unconscious aspect of personality. 

The emotion that the conscious ego does not identify in itself. In short, it’s our dark side. 

What’s tricky is, while shadows are largely negative, there are times when positive aspects can actually harm us. Jung says they can act as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world. 

Hope, as an example, can be a shadow. Like when positive thinkers and optimists try to invent a fake way out of an impossible situation. Because even if that hope convinces us that everything will be okay, even if it feels like the right story to tell ourselves, it still may not be serving us. 

Years ago, when my company starting laying off people like mad, the future was looking grim. The few of us who were left in our office did our best to keep the flame of hope alive, but as the magic eight ball famously said, all signs pointed to yes. 

As in, yes, it’s only a matter of time. Yes, it’s wise to start exploring other job opportunities. 

A friend who had worked at several startups just like mine gave me some unexpected advice:

I know you are bruised and battered, but these things tend not to resolve themselves with renewed vigor and optimism, but with a whimper. 

It was a gloomy thought, but my friend’s words taught us the danger of investing too much emotional capital in mere hope. Its shadow can block the light of reality. 

And not that retreating into despair and cynicism is a better option, but sometimes, only after the illusion of hope is dispelled can we more clearly see the truth and move forward to the next chapter. 


Are you striving to resist the flood of hope that might sweep you away?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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