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No. 53 – Our Shadow – A Source of Answers for Effective Radiation Risk Communication

December 21, 2011

For over 60 years we (safety professionals) have attempted to communicate a rational understanding of radiation risks to the public. Most HPs agree that we have not been very successful. To improve our communications, should we just try harder at what we have been doing? Probably not! If trying harder were the answer, we would already be successful, because we have tried everything we can think of. Further options will require that we start thinking outside of the box. One possibility is to start looking to our shadow as a source of answers.

Our shadow represents all of those qualities that we cannot understand or accept in other people. Why do people get so emotional and irrational about radiation? Why do they not accept what we are saying as “the truth?” Is the public’s negative reactions the result of “wrong thinking,” “wrong ideas,” “wrong feelings,” “wrong understanding,” or “wrong information?” As long as we continue to see those whose thinking, feelings, and beliefs differ from us, as wrong, we are destined for failure in communications. However, it is very hard not to see the world as wrong, when we see ourselves as the holders of the truth. The world would be a better place if people would change to our views, our thinking, and our conclusions. And yet, will the world change, if we are not willing to change first?

For improving communications, our best option is for us to change. We need to be willing to put ourselves in the shoes of those with opposite views, to think their thoughts, to feel their feelings, and to speak their language. In other words, we need to start making friends with our shadow. All of those traits, qualities. and views that we have rejected as wrong (our shadow), may not be wrong, but just different.

Will it be hard to make friends with our shadow? Yes, it will be extremely hard! When we try to develop our shadow qualities, our egos will tell us that is bad Thus, most HPs will not be willing to devote the energy to overcome the ego’s resistance to learning new ways to communicate. Why should we change, the world is wrong?

Our only hope for improved communications is awareness and acceptance of our shadow and our projections of shadow qualities onto other people.

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