Imagine, if you will, a little boy named Billy Joe. He grows up as part of the proletariat. His pa, Alvin, works twelve hour days, and doesn’t like his job none but it’s an honest livin’ and he cain’t do nuthin’ to change it. “It’s how it is for us folks.” He gets home and puts his stinking socks up on the rotting ottoman and only interacts with his family insofar as he can bark at them to get him another cold one from the fridge. At dinner time, ma serves up the Honey Boo Boo ‘sketti special or maybe on nights when she’s feeling generous of spirit, boiled wieners with the fancy mustard.
Now there’s an uncle, let’s call him Uncle Rick. He didn’t settle for less like his brother Alvin, and when they are forced to see him each year over Christmas he causes quite a stir. Rick dares to have a “career.” He’s confident. He keeps himself in shape. He’s coiffed. He smells pleasant and doesn’t shrink to fit in with his low-striver siblings or parents. Maybe he has a young, attractive wife. He’s frivolous with his money and thinks nothing of picking decadent, over-priced alcohol for the big torturous Christmas event. His signature move is rolling up late in a flashy new car, while announcing his presence by dramatically wrapping up some deal on his cell phone. And while he might impress Billy Joe, the child also notices the eye rolls, groans and quiet comments from the rest of the family. Uncle Rick is so selfish, braggadocious, a scumbag city slicker.
Depending on Billy Joe’s personality type, or perhaps his age, he might interpret this information to mean that confident, successful men are hateable demons. This is internalized and goes into his Shadow. As he struggles to gain acceptance and love from his bloated alcoholic pa, he might unconsciously repeat these familial patterns - end up in a job he despises, drinking to dull the pain, and hating anyone he sees living their life in a more ostentatious or individualistic way. He may view others' successes through an envious or defeated lens, thinking it’s not possible for “us folks.” Maybe he gets a raise at work but is too embarrassed to share it over one of those Christmas dinners, for fear of rejection from his father. His Shadow keeps him small.
Now, if little Billy Joe is a totally different type of person, he might grow up despising his pa and internalize “working class” people, or viewing people with lower standards of living to be putrid and weak. He may seek to distance himself as much as he can from his family’s image. He now only eats fine, organic food. The mere smell of cheap beer makes him nauseous. Unlike Uncle Rick, BJ’s too ashamed to bring his hot wife to meet his undignified family. In Billy Joe’s Shadow lies the fear of failure, being broke, being seen as a worthless, weiner-eating loser. He sees someone struggling in the cold, shaking a mug for coins, and stares at them derisively for daring to pollute his short walk between Starbucks and the lavish tower he’s a CEO.