How I use shadow work to heal and you can tooAug 16, 2021
As you delve into a deeper relationship with yourself, you will encounter the term “Shadow Work.”
Shadow work can seem very scary, and messy, so let's begin with the big WHY you will want to engage in Shadow work, either on your own or with the help of a guide.
The Benefits of Shadow Work:
- Improved relationships - when you are able to change the lens through which you view yourself or another person - for the better, the relationship improves, or ends (which can also be an improvement).
- Feel more grounded as you see your true self more clearly and learn to establish healthier boundaries
- More wholeness and compassion for yourself – feel more like your True Self
- Access to higher self
- Clearer perception – spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically
- Improved self worth, confidence and sense of empowerment as you learn more about yourself
- More energy and better physical health - You won’t be spending so much time and energy carrying around energetic baggage of all the stuff you suppress and repress. This liberates a tremendous amount of energy
- More creativity and connection with higher self
There are many words in the energy world which focus on “light” and “love”. This is the goal of energy healing, after all - to release more light and love into your human experience.
Because of the focus on these higher frequency aspects, it could be easy to forget that the only way to increase these aspects and experience your higher self, shining brightly with the glow of your soul, existing in your most whole and true form, is to free it from the shadows. Lurking in the darkness, masquerading as demons is actually all the gold you could ever desire for yourself. To ignore it, is not only avoidant and escapist, but also to choose a life of less than.
Maybe you are thinking, “But I’m a good person. And I want to feel like my life is “good.” I don’t want to dwell on the negative story, or the bad memories of the past. I want to say positive affirmations and have my life be amazing.”
I understand this desire, I do. But without going deeper and rooting out the Shadow Self, any "goodness" you experience will be short lived.
What is the Shadow Self?
Many shy away from doing Shadow Work, because they aren't certain about what is involved, or are scared to face parts of themselves. Much like a shadow cast behind an object when it is placed in front of a light source, your shadow side is the hidden or obscured part of you that gets overshadowed by the side you present to others.
Your shadow side is created and composed of the pieces of yourself you keep hidden, often even from yourself. It’s all the rejected pieces of you, your self-image, the parts you are ashamed of.
Like all dynamic creations YOU as a whole being are composed of smaller selves or aspects. While these smaller aspects might number into hundreds or thousands, like cells that group together to form organ, these aspects group together and form identities. These identities might be something like an inner child, an inner critic, a helper, higher self, a hero, what you might be calling your “demon” and so on.
Throughout your day in each moment an aspect of you steps forward and handles a certain situation.
Most of the time we interact with the world and think nothing of which part of us is doing the interacting. In fact, more than likely, you think they are all YOU, the conscious you who believes it’s in charge.
But this is not quite true. You are actually, unconsciously, reacting to your environment and whichever part of you thinks it knows best in the moment, shows up and “handles it”.
This is why sometimes, you feel like you did a great job and handled the situation in a balanced and open-hearted or open-minded way (maybe the helper or hero) and other times you wonder why you said what you said, did what you did, and might even feel ashamed of the way you behaved, and wonder what is wrong with you. A great example here might be yelling at your kids or loved ones, or not being able to be compassionate toward another person, even when you think you “should.”
Nothing is wrong with you, there are simply, as my mom used to say, “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Ever feel like you are separate and not whole? Experience a lot of internal conflict and confusion?
What creates the Shadow Self?
Let’s say you were a boy and you liked to play with “girl” things, or vice versa. Well, if that was not acceptable in your environment then you would be trained to see it as “bad.” Wanting to survive and fit in, you would now see this desire of yours as “bad” and would hide it away so others wouldn’t see and judge you. Basically, for your survival and acceptance, you decide, this part of yourself can no longer be expressed. With each person you encounter that you care about you make the same kinds of choices based on how they want you to be.
And just like that the shadow is born in small pieces cobbled together from the vast myriad moments of disapproval, or anything that jeopardizes your need to belong. We all want to fit in, be accepted, be loved, and in order to do that, your teachers from parents to friends, to society at large teach you how you need to behave in order to receive acceptance. So, you bend and twist yourself, being this way with this group and that way with that group, carving yourself so you can receive external love and validation.
The thing is, those other pieces of yourself don't just disappear. They remain, ignored and abandoned to explode outward when your tired, vulnerable, scared, and probably drunk. (maybe that was just me ;) )
These aspects hide, because that is what they have learned to do, to survive and they could and swirl through your life like wisps of smoke, not solid enough to grasp, barely able to see unless you are looking for them.
Over time, and with continued denial of their presence, two things will happen:
1. It becomes increasingly difficult to recognize the bigger YOU from these smaller identities vying for attention and healing.
2. The longer they are ignore, the more reckless and dangerous these aspects become in their efforts to get from you what they need (which is healing and love).
The strategy of ignoring these hidden parts only works in the short-term. Over time, your shadow self has the power and ability to manifest addictions, physical disorders, low self-esteem and chronic illnesses to name but a few things destructive means at it’s disposable to achieve its goal.
The only way to truly and wholly be free of the shadow side is to heal, bring your trauma and pain into the light, and re-set their programming. This will allow their immense power and energy to work for you instead of against you.
How to do Shadow work?
As you grow up, you eventually realize that maybe all the “certain ways” you once needed to be don’t really apply anymore. Maybe you realize the lessons were too harsh, or you don’t align with that aspect or perceived fault anymore. It's like you finally realize that someone or many someone's handed you a template of how you are meant to be, only you'd now rather make something that uniquely suits you.
Recognizing when Shadow Work is needed is a great first step. It usually shows itself when on the conscious level, no matter how hard you try, you cannot break the pattern, stop yourself from making the same bad choices or “bad” things just always seem to keep happening to you and you can’t for the life of you figure out why. Maybe you even feel like a victim of your circumstances. This is the strongest indicator that shadow work is needed.
There is a way to free yourself from this and the key is in small doses.
- Start smaller, give yourself an emotional win by dealing with something manageable – perhaps a memory of something unkind someone said to you. You can follow the thread from the statement and see how it might have impacted the way you see yourself.
- Ask questions to the shadow self. Ask for it to show itself. Be kind, compassionate and patient as you gently reveal and expose something that didn’t make you feel good. The more you practise, the easier this will become.
- Bring awareness to emotions and thought patterns – look for the shadow
- Self-Love - get in habit of asking where is the love, in the situation, the emotion, the memory
- Acknowledge that you are not your thoughts or your beliefs – they can be changed and updated
- Journaling helps being up more deeply buried emotions and memories
- Energy healing – helps to remove the emotions and stuck energy without the need to go into the “story” of it all
- Mindset reprogramming – which requires more time and attention but can be quite effective
- Breathwork – helps move out energy
- Inner child work – give you the chance to heal wounds created when you were too young and vulnerable to know any better
Whatever method you choose, wherever you are – the best thing you can do is begin.
No one is perfect, no one is damaged either. We are all in different stages of finding our true selves and feeling whole. If everything is a struggle, is hard, makes you angry or frustrated, then it’s time to have a conversation with your shadow side.
You deserve to feel joyful, happy, and empowered, and all the light you need for that is already inside of you. All that is required is awareness and love to be set free.
Learn more about energy healing here.