july 30th, 2023

I’ve taken psychedelic drugs before. The shadow is a scary place.

I don’t care if you do these substances, as long as you are smart and educate yourself beforehand about the risks and potentials. I believe psychedelics can and will change your mind, but depending on who you are and how you choose to take them, it can be for better or for worse. I’ve taken some, and in most cases, I didn’t need to. These things will open your mind to all possibilities of life— good, bad, and ugly. They will make you aware of things you want to know, things you don’t want to know, and things you need to know. 

The shadow is a concept proposed by C.G. Jung, in that the darkest aspects of yourself lie at the forefront of your unconscious mind; psychs break that layer. It doesn’t necessarily happen the first time, but if you continue to experiment with these, no matter the circumstance, you will encounter the shadow. (First you will encounter the collective shadow, but as soon as you learn about projection, you will begin to see your own.) At times, the content of the shadow can be overwhelming, and the more you take on unconscious content, the more it can overtake you, depress you, and give you anxiety; this is called psychological inflation. Inflation occurs when the ego gets bigger. In the psychedelic state, you can become aware of the ego and its role in the world. The knowledge you gain about yourself and the world around you can boost one’s ego, especially after coming down from a trip. There is a benefit in feeling like one’s ego can “take over the world.” For an insecure, depressed person, it can change their habit of introversion and give them self confidence; this is positive inflation. This can become dangerous when their ego gains an exaggerated and unrealistic sense of self-importance, and it can turn others away from that individual, and that individual can become more unaware of their shadowy aspects. On the opposite side of the coin, there is negative inflation, which in my case, came after a bout of positive inflation. This is when one ruminates in a diminished sense of self, characterised by self-loathing, martyrdom, judging and victimising yourself; this shows up as anxious/depressive behaviours. What I am describing are not exclusive to those who take these substances, but rather these substances exaggerate sensations well-known to those who consume them. However, the benefit of negative inflation, or at least, destroying one’s ego and self-definition, is that they can become more aware of their shadow traits–their unconscious. It is when that person takes on too many of unconscious thoughts and habits is when negative inflation can occur. 

I don’t like to go around regretting my past decisions. I’d prefer to hold a mindset of constant growth, self-awareness, and empathy whenever I can. But sometimes dwelling on such matters keeping you living in the past, getting you nowhere in life. My personal shadow is something I’ve become more familiar with over the past few years. Even at times where I thought I had it figured out, I lost awareness in other aspects of life. As someone who’s ego has been inflated, I can see both sides of the “why” and how your mind logically and emotionally justifies it— the thoughts, ruminations, self-doubt and pity, hatred and sadness. When putting yourself down, you’ll notice all your own imperfections, only YOU know about the cruel, horrible, and pathological issues you have had in the past (or possibly, in the present!) And yes, others around you do remember, maybe not as well as you do, but only YOU can be so self-critical. Because of critical self-awareness, you may publicly and/or privately put yourself down on a level below those around you (subconsciously or consciously) as a means of self-punishment, and in a way, to show others that you are aware of your issues. But constant self-pity and loathing is unappealing for anyone to be around. So it’s important to know your worth, to build your ego up to a point of resistance to the others’ opinions, and not let their perceptions of you ruin YOUR experience. This doesn’t mean, however, that your ego is above theirs, maybe just in your own world; always know that their ego is top priority in theirs. We need to provide mutual respect to everyone regardless of how they conceive of themselves. It doesn’t matter how disgustingly full of themselves or how painfully self-conscious they are; a whole human deserves both ends of the spectrum, simultaneously. This means we should be apologetic and understanding when we have made a mistake, or have been ignorant of something others are aware of, but it also means standing up for ourselves, owning our mistakes and moving forward, without loathing and overthinking. Self-reflection is important in times of silence, but it’s never an excuse to emotionally betray yourself. 

No one experience will fix you, but rather the repeated effort of your conscious mind to communicate with your unconscious mind to know what you need in any given moment. It is always important in integrate your unconscious, or else it may rule your conscious life for you.

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