What is Shadow Work?
We’ve been seeing the term shadow work gain more popularity over the years. So I broke it down in the easiest way possible!
Shadow Work is essentially working to uncover, understand, heal and integrate with your subconscious mind aka your shadow. It originally originated from Carl Jung, a Psychologist from the 20th century. Your shadow is the part of you that is unheard and unseen yet makes it’s appearance through your actions or inaction.Your shadow simply lingers in the background until you gain consciousness of it. It typically has a negative connotation attached to it because it is the unknown parts of ourselves; the “dark” side. However, our shadow is created from all of our life experiences which includes great experiences and lessons.
The goal of shadow work is not to get rid of our shadow (it’s quite impossible to get rid of it btw), the goal is to integrate with our shadow so that we can become one with it.
A Real Life Example of Shadow Work:
I look at our shadow as the part of ourselves that we can’t see until it smacks us in the face a couple of times. We all have our own self concept based on what we believe is true about ourselves. Realizing that we have a trait we deem unfavorable can send us into an identity crisis or a cycle of resistance. It’s kinda like a friend telling you something you weren’t ready to hear so you double down on your idea that they are wrong. It’s hard to accept what is unfamiliar to us even if it’s true.
Our shadow is the annoying pest on our shoulder that says blue when our brain says red and leave when our brain says go. The logical part of the brain wants to buy a new car but your shadow will reveal why you don’t want to buy a new car. Maybe consciously, you want to buy a new car because your current car no longer fits your needs. Your shadow says you don’t want to buy a new car because deep down, you believe you don’t deserve to have nice things. If you’re subconsciously worried about money, you may associate a new car with lack. Now that you are conscious of these things, you can work through them and go through with a purchasing a new car.
Here’s two journal prompts you can explore as you begin your journey:
Journal Prompt 1:
Think about something you really want. Then journal about why you don’t want it. Yes, that’s right – why you don’t want it.
Journal question: What am I afraid will happen if this dream comes true? What do I am trying to avoid? What emotions would I need to feel in order for this to happen?
Journal Prompt 2:
Think about an “unattractive” or “unacceptable” trait/characteristic that you strongly dislike about yourself.
Journal question: What is unacceptable about me having this trait? What does this trait say or mean about me? What emotions are tied to having this trait?
3 Reasons You Should Do Shadow Work:
- You gain a better understanding of yourself and begin working with you instead of against you. The goal isn’t to change our shadow, it’s to see it for what it is and accept it. Shadow work calls you to face the truth and gives you the opportunity to be accountable.
- Shadow work lessens resistance. When we face what’s hidden, our fears decrease and realize our shadow has pertinent information that we need in order to heal.
- Your shadow deserves just as much love as your conscious mind. If we didn’t have “unacceptable” or “unattractive” parts of ourselves, we wouldn’t be human. Learning to love those parts of ourselves can increase self-love, confidence, and self-belief. To be clear, loving your shadow doesn’t “excuse it” but it sure does create space for it.
Is Shadow Work easy? No. You are seeing parts of yourself that have previously been blind to you and a lot of emotions come with it. However, insight that can bring us close to our truest selves it always worth it. As Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”.
If you need a deeper dive into shadow work or want assistance navigating current mental health issues, book a healing session with me. Visit my Amazon Shop for the books that I highly recommend that assists me on my own journey.
Until next time,