What is Shadow Work?
What shadow work is, is making the unconscious conscious. It’s making the parts of your psyche that are completely unconscious and starting to push them to the forefront and bring them through the front.
Every single one of us, in case you didn’t already know, we all have shadows. We all have unconscious parts of our psyche, and doing the work is really about accepting and allowing the unconscious parts of ourselves to come forward. As soon as we try to deny that we have these dark parts, that’s when we get in trouble.
What is Shadow Self?
Shadow work actually comes from the term shadow self, which was coined by Carl Jung. In Jungian psychology, this term describes the unconscious parts of the personality that your conscious ego doesn’t want to identify in itself. It’s the darker sides of ourselves that we disown, repress or ignore, but instead we’re actually carrying it around like invisible baggage. Everyone’s carrying around baggage, but it isn’t until you start doing the work that you are able to consciously start to release some of this baggage and start to get lighter and lighter.
Why You Need to Do Shadow Work?
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Shadow work uncovers every part of you that has been disowned, repressed and rejected. Doing this work is one of the most authentic paths to enlightenment. The reason why we need to do our shadow work is because it is your shadows that lead to the limiting beliefs, which then lead to self sabotaging behavior, destructive behavior.
You end up burning bridges, you end up breaking your agreements – literal, emotional, physical, verbal. You end up compromising your integrity and then you end up ruining your relationships. These are the things that end up happening when you don’t do your shadow work. When you accept all the parts of your psyche, the good, the bad and the ugly.
That is what leads to a fulfilled life.
What Happens When You Avoid Shadow Work?
The shadow can operate on its own without our full awareness. Unless we are actively doing the work every single day, it just operates on its own, which is the same thing as autopilot. When we operate on autopilot and we just react to our feelings, we just react to our thoughts, we do things we later regret. Even making facial expressions we can’t feel and the unconsciousness assumes control.
We project onto others to defend our ego and how the ego perceives itself and then our false identities of being “good” prevent us from seeing our shadow. When you are not doing your work, it ends up hurting your relationships with your partners, family, friends, community, professional relationships and ability to be a leader.
How Do You Do Shadow Work?
How do you actually do shadow work? First of all, you have to confront your shadow. You have to hold a mirror up to yourself and be willing to lean into all of your emotions, including the “bad ones,” so you can make them conscious. With that said, notice your emotional reactions to people. How is this actually not just a negative quality about you, but this is actually just another symptom, another projection of something that is deeper seated and unresolved within you? With that said, you’ve got to have compassion for yourself because as you dig things can get darker.
You have to know your worth. You are worth healing. Healing is the only way you can achieve wholeness, fulfillment and potential. There is no other way around it.