Danger arises when a man feels secure in his position. Destruction threatens when a man seeks to perfect his worldly estate. Confusion develops when a man has put everything in order. Therefore, the superior man does not forget danger in his security nor ruin when he is well established, nor confusion when his affairs are in order. In this way he gains personal freedom and is able to protect the empire.
Enantiodromia: The Divine Adjuster
Don't let the big word enantiodromia intimidate you. I can hardly pronounce it myself. But I've included it here because it fascinates me to realize that the ancient Greeks already knew of this great psychological law even before the field of psychology was conceived. Jung identified this as the principle which governs all cycles of natural life, from the smallest to the greatest" (1971: pare. 708). Jung's recognition of the inevitability of enantiodromic change helped him anticipate psychic movement (cf Samuels et al. 1986).
An emotionally laden fanaticism or one-sideness autonomously reverts to its other side when it has run to the end of its potential in one direction. Enantiodromia is a great psychological law at work, one that keeps us from becoming too one-sided. Instead, we are forced to know something from both sides. At some point, all extreme attitudes and feelings revert to their opposite to make the "unlived" side conscious. As we've seen, everything created has an opposite. Therefore, if we insist on only one side of anything at all, we'll be guaranteed a huge surprise one fateful day when the inner Self suddenly says, Okay, time's up! You'ue learned all you need to know from this side of it. The compensatory function of the psyche kicks in, and now everything will rapidly shift. We're forced to tumble all the way to the other side of our nature--the part that's being ignored, disowned, or denied. Our happiness turns into unhappiness, love shifts to hate. That perfect couple who never fight enter into a nasty divorce and a vicious custody battle. The fanatical preacher who raves at us about the sins of the flesh is caught in the arms of a prostitute. Exaggerated spirituality or "goodness" reverts to acting out basic instincts. We see evidence of this all the time.
When there are gaps in our conscious willingness to see and own any piece of ourselves, we can know for certain that the unconscious mind will compensate for this deficit and throw out an image in our psyche or an actual experience of it in our outer life so we'll deal with it. Jung called this process of something shifting to its opposite extreme by its Latin name: enantiodromia. This psychological principle was first outlined by Heraclitus and meant that eventually everything turns into its opposite.
The inherent workings of enantiodromia within our psyche will continually lead us to accessing and integrating our shadow. If you notice that someone is always good, always smiling, always anything, you will know that the shadow is probably hiding in the opposite that's never being expressed. This is a divine law of the psyche that has gone unnoticed and become a missing link upon many a spiritual path.
Accepting Your Shadow as a Conscious Companion (The Shadow as "Symbol" or "Symptom")
The shadow is our passionate response to life, our heart's intensities borne from the suffering taken on so that we might enter fully into the human predicament. It is the first archetype we meet along our journey to wholeness, the first we make "real." It acts out so terribly, we simply have to notice. Jung believed that we meet the shadow by going through a narrow door--one that many wish to avoid entering. But it isn't possible to avoid this, for until the shadow is accessed, brought into the "light of day" and accepted with love and forgiveness, i.e., integrated, it runs--or perhaps ruins--our lives. It distorts our human interactions in ways that keep us unclear, victims of our excesses and addictions.