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Shadow Work Explained

Shadow Work Explained

Last updated on January 3rd, 2022.

I define Shadow Work as a process which allows us to access deep joy, purpose, and healing through our challenges and wounds. It enables us to identify and uncover the roots of our shame to transmute it into medicine. The meaning of Shadow Work will vary from person to person, practitioner to practitioner, and method to method.

However, at its core, Shadow Work should be a process of integrating parts of ourselves we’ve disowned, shunned, or bypassed. It’s about reclaiming and empowering ourselves through our trials and traumas. Psychologist Carl Jung called Shadow Work a way to make the unconscious conscious.

My Shadow Work experience, both personally and professionally, has been profound. I’ve worked through emotional blocks, improved my mental health, and healed my body’s hormonal challenges. I’ve created a marriage I never thought was possible. I’ve learned to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings, my unconscious mind, behavioral patterns, and strong emotions.

The Benefits of Shadow Work: 

Healing through confronting your shadow and dark side is a multilevel phenomenon that touches on every aspect of our life. 

Something only becomes a “shadow side” when we have deemed it unworthy of being seen. It is an attempt to dis-integrate ourselves and reveal and embody only what’s desirable. That’s impossible since every part of ourselves is interdependent.

This attempt to eclipse parts of the self results in resistance. This then manifests as everything from anger and jealousy to addiction and poor relationships with food.

Emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, fear, and jealousy emerge as repressed parts of the self feel threatened. These emotions are how the shadowed parts of ourselves communicate. Rather than stopping at “I am feeling jealous,” Shadow Work helps to identify the root of the jealousy and find its real need. When we stop repressing emotions, we heal our anger, anxiety, depression, fear, and jealousy, resulting in a more integrated being. 

Through living with more conscious awareness and embracing all parts of ourselves, including the idea of the shadow, we can also deepen into our personal spiritual practice.

Shadow Work and the Inner Child:

Shadow Work is inner child work. The inner child is the most innocent, bare parts of ourselves ruled by intuitive instinct and pleasure – and not wounds. The child within has clarity, openness, and honesty, and isn’t harsh or judgmental of the self.

Life as a humxn can be rough, and if our inner child doesn’t feel safe, they retreat. Addressing and being with the parts of ourselves we fear, dislike, and are ashamed of leads us back to our inner child. From there we can experience a deeper connection with Self without the armors. For more on your inner child, read this.

Shadow Work and Relationships:

A quick way to understand where your shadows live is to look at your relationship triggers. Shadow Work strengthens relationships. As we look in the mirror of another, we are shown the parts of ourselves that need attention. For more on relationships, read this.

Shadow Work and Lightworkers:

Shadow Work is often the catalyst for empaths, lightworkers, sensitives, and intuitives to realize their gifts. Shadow Work and the Dark Night of the Soul go together since they reveal what our ego doesn’t want us to see.

Similarly, when in business as entrepreneurs, soulpreneurs, and lightworkers, we are shown our shadow. Shadow Work in business, just as Shadow Work in relationships, strengthens our leadership abilities and increases our ability to be of service.

Is Shadow Work Dangerous?

Shadow Work is not dangerous, evil, or scary.

Shadow Work is only dangerous if you feel living a fully integrated life is dangerous. The truth is, it can feel scary to challenge deeply held beliefs and views of ourselves. It can feel dangerous to dive into uncharted territory of the internal wilderness. Shadow Work is scary if you go about it without compassion and with the belief that you need “fixing.”

As a result of collectively held feminine shame, many of us have been taught to fear the dark and favor the light.

Shadow Work Techniques:

There are many tips, tools, and techniques for engaging in Shadow Work which will vary greatly depending on the individual. Aside from stalking my thoughts and emotions, my Shadow Work involves the use of energetic or divination tools. This in conjunction with sound coaching and mindset techniques results in gold!

If we’re constantly in an active state, choosing to numb and ignore parts of ourselves, we’re missing out on the true richness of life.

What helps you access deeper states of consciousness, or the unconscious, where our shadows live? Plant spirits, meditation, and tarot are some of my favorite Shadow Work resources. Shadow Work with yoga, breathwork, and other subtle energy healing techniques can also help us to access these deeper states. 

Lucid dreaming and dream analysis are also helpful Shadow Work techniques that aim to understand the subconscious more fully. I often advise clients to keep dream journals and track themes and messages.

Shadow Work Exercises & Journal Prompts:

• Which parts of myself do I deem “undesirable,” “inappropriate,” or “shameful?”
• How long have I held these beliefs about myself?
• Where do I feel this in my body?
• Does this body part have a message for me?

Getting Started with Shadow Work:

I’ve seen clients find improvements in chronic diseases through these practices. I’ve seen people birth businesses, transmute limiting beliefs, save relationships worth saving and walk away from ones that weren’t. I’ve witnessed life-changing “a-ha” moments as layers of shame were lifted.

I’ve personally gone from alcoholism, obesity, chain smoking, resentful childhood wounds, amenorrhea, PCOS and other hormonal challenges, to balanced, energized, and clear.

How do you begin to embrace your dark side and your shadows? Embarking on a journey of healing and identifying our shadows using Shadow Work is exciting and highly transformative.

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