Shadow work

As humans, we are all mixed. Most of us want to be good, but occasionally we aren’t, even though we may be trying our best to do the right thing.

We sometimes find ourselves behaving selfishly, or we are egotistical, or we react to an adverse situation in a childish way – perhaps we have a tantrum, or we sulk, or we let our emotions express themselves in unhelpful ways. Or we might react to a perceived attack or slight in a vindictive way. This isn’t nice.

If we are to behave like good humans, then we need to do what is sometimes referred to as ‘shadow work.’ This is where we take a personal inventory and try to address any dark elements in our personality that this search uncovers. We need to understand where they come from, what our weaknesses tend to be, and find ways of managing and processing stuff that otherwise would come out as bad behaviour.

It’s important that we do this in a healthy way, of course. Our diet needs to be right. Much of the time we should focus on our strengths and understand that we are good and acceptable, acknowledging that we can’t be good at everything. But, having said this, occasional spurts of shadow work are important, and free us to be the better versions of who we are (I love the famous slogan – ‘I want to be the person that my dog thinks I am’).

And, of course, we aren’t just individuals. We are part of society: something bigger than just ourselves. We don’t live in isolation. And our society – our nation – also has to do some shadow work. It’s interesting to note that collectively, countries struggle with some of the same issues that people do. We can be selfish. We can be territorial and egotistical. We can have tantrums; we can sulk; we can be vindictive to those who slight us.

Together, we have to decide, what sort of country do we want to be? Is our success all that matters, even if it comes at the expense of the success of others? Should we care about people from other countries? How do we respond to asylum seekers? Should we be willing to cooperate, or should we be hard-nosed negotiators, looking out solely for our interests? In this age of populist demagogues, national shadow work is sorely needed.

And what of wineries, and wine regions? Is shadow work also needed there? In the wine business, an important part of sustainability is making money. You can’t be green if you are in the red. But making money can’t be the only goal of a winery or wine region. Ethical issues such as sustainability, carbon footprints, how workers are treated and whether legal wine regulations are followed all matter, and the goal for profit can’t over-ride these. So, yes, I think some shadow work is needed if the wineindustry is to be healthy. We need to be honest; we need to be nice to each other; we need to care.


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