What is a shadow?
I’m not referring to the dark outline cast on the sidewalk while you walk down the road on a sunny day, but that’s close. Much like our physical shadows, our shadows are always standing right behind us, barely out of view. The shadow is the part of ourselves that we don’t want to look at – qualities we deem unattractive, try to push away, overlook, sugarcoat or hide under the surface. Often these wounds are created in childhood but sometimes can develop later in life. These are our deepest wounds, the parts of ourselves that we would rather brush under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. When standing in direct light, we will always cast a shadow.
What is Shadow work?
A large part of healing and finding more peace is doing shadow work. Many of us will go to great lengths to protect our self-image from anything unflattering or uncomfortable. This often comes at the expense of leaving our shadows or flaws unacknowledged. When left unattended shadows will fester, leading us to grow accustomed to functioning from a place of deficiency rather than from a place of health, wholeness, and growth.
So where do you start?
Look at others. Not to elevate yourself by becoming overly critical of those around you, but rather when you recognize the qualities you criticize in others, flip it to see how they show up in you. For Carl Jung once said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” This introspective process is incredibly difficult, and you will probably notice that it gets harder before it gets easier.
Common shadow beliefs include:
- Feeling inadequate
- Feeling flawed
- Feeling unlovable
You will know your shadow is activated if …
- Do you find yourself consistently covering up things about yourself?
- Are you running into the same feelings or experiences in your relationships?
- Do you find yourself getting angry or irritated for no reason?
- Do you often have negative thoughts or emotions?
- Do you feel that life is boring or meaningless?
Ask yourself these questions, then take a step back and breathe. If you answered yes to any of these questions, likely the cause if from a shadow and you would benefit greatly from shadow work.
Acknowledge that this is just one voice in your psyche – not your whole story. It is easy to become overwhelmed when you are uncovering unprocessed, repressed emotion. Revealing the deep flaws can oftentimes cultivate feelings of shame, sadness, anger, and frustration. This is both a blessing and a curse. Each person has the choice to let these feeling overwhelm them or turn this energy into motivation for a positive life-change.
When you allow yourself the comfort of not needing to be perfect, you can more easily embrace the shadows or hardships you are experiencing. Releasing perfectionism and forgiving yourself allows more time to focus on solving some of the issues related to your shadow.
How can shadow work benefit me?
There are many benefits of shadow work. The main benefits include:
- Psychological maturity.
- Better relationships.
- Clearer intuition.
- Improved physical health and energy.
- More creativity.
- Becoming more in touch with your true self.
In order to fully process through your shadows, set aside time to journal, meditate, or pray. Go outside and investigate your shadows with compassion. Understand that you have more value and worth than what your shadow would let you think. When you are able to give compassion to yourself you can more easily give it to others and extend the understanding that others are acting unconsciously from their own unhealed wounds. Understanding and working through your own shadows, and giving grace to others, is the only way to reach true peace.
Feeling like you just don’t know where to start? Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me and we can dive deeper into your shadow to find the best way shadow work can help you.