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Remember who you are…Exploring the Human Shadow with Robert Bly

In the 3rd installation of the #readinglist blog we are looking at who we really are… Robert Bly’s Little Book on the Human Shadow offers a very accessible perspective on this through lens of Carl Jung’s shadow concept…

This poem by Juan Ramon Jiminez, often quoted by Robert Bly, gives a good sense of what we are talking about…


I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,

whom at times I manage to visit,

and whom at other times I forget;

the one who remains silent while I talk,

the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,

the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,

the one who will remain standing when I die.


 Juan Ramón Jiménez


Jung’s shadow self concept and Bly’s work in this area, particularly related to men’s work and accessing mature masculine archetypes, first entered my life about 2 decades ago.


Initially as part of seeking I had taken to and then, more explicitly, a part of a Mankind Project event I took part in, where these concepts are at the heart of the vision and intention of the MKP; helping men mature into their responsibility and power as members of society.


They have stayed with me since…allowing for a richness in learning about myself and others that has, eventually and accidentally, become the cornerstone of the TRYBE Method I have formulated…


Remember who you are…

From before we are born, we are shaped by the lives, experiences and expectations of others; Parents, Siblings, Family, Teachers, Peers, Bosses, ....

Throughout life we experience challenging situations, some traumatising, resulting in an ebb and flow of tension in our bodies, in our minds and in our social interactions.

Just as we generally retain more tension than we release, so we suppress certain elements of behaviour; accentuating others…This suppression and accentuation contribute to the shadow that sits slightly below our conscious behaviour…influencing and compensating for our conscious behaviour…



In “The Little Book on the Human Shadow” Bly explains this concept with clarity and humour, making it relevant to man and woman and accessible to all. He uses poetry (some his own, but also that from Juan Ramon Jiminez and Antonio Machado…etc.) to articulate concepts universally and demonstrate the ancient and cross-cultural nature of the shadow self concept…


If you want an easy, powerful insight into the subconscious driver behind your wheel…and the wheel of everyone other person you know…Read this book.

It will make you aware of the shadow…and offer some simple insights into how to start to integrate it.

Your shadow is a part of you…, so integrating it is the only useful option.

Integration requires us to become aware of our behaviour and what drives it...and then do what is necessary about that behaviour and the driver that lives in our shadow...Conscious and mindful living...


Rejecting it leaves us wounded, immature and, in many senses, dangerous in relationship and a society that demands mature behaviour from people who have taken responsibility for their full selves, shadow and light. The resultant behaviour is often voatile, inconsistent and destructive to self, relationships and society...


It truly is a little book. Only 96 pages in soft cover print at al little smaller than A5 page set.


You can get through it in a day on your first read…and you WILL read it more than once because those 96 pages are packed with centuries of archetypal wisdom that, on first read makes sense…, but on subsequent reads has impact.


Click here to get your copy in paperback (highly recommended as you can stuff it in a pocket for a tube read or beach bag)


There is no audiobook that I have been able to find, BUT this accompanying audiobook of Bly explaining and exploring the concepts live is brilliant and something I listen to frequently…empowering and entertaining!


Enjoy your journey into your ‘darker half’… As you explore it, you may find more of value in there than there is to fear…





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