Shadow work. What is it? How do you do it?
Our shadows are the parts of ourselves that we would prefer not to confront or face. They are our deepest wounds and have us believing we are flawed, unlovable, undeserving, or unworthy. These shadows surfaced during our early childhood. Our shadows are the result of the culmination of interactions we had as children, usually with those closest to us.
As newborns, we entered this world whole, complete, and full of light. The truth is, at its essence, our soul is still just that—whole, complete, and full of light. Then, during our formative years, our primary attachment figures/caregivers unconsciously taught us that there are certain aspects of ourselves that are defined as “good” and “bad.” The aspects of ourselves that are deemed “bad” formed our shadow.
Our shadow is the aspect we would prefer to leave hidden, or unseen.
Your shadows are attributes of yourself that you consciously or unconsciously reject. What do you not like about yourself? What have you been called out on before? Perhaps it’s a need for control, or the ability to be controlling. Perhaps it’s your constant need for validation or attention. Maybe it’s your pattern of people-pleasing.
Shadow work involves facing those parts of ourselves that we would rather shove in a box, lock up, throw away the key, and just pretend don’t exist.
Shadow work leads us to take accountability for our triggers and allows us deep healing and release.
When we explore the origin of our shadows, we can shed more light on them. Shadow work allows us to dig deep, uncover the unwanted parts of ourselves, and hold them with acceptance, instead of rejecting or ignoring these parts of ourselves. Shadow work allows us to deepen the relationship we have with ourselves, cultivating a loving, expansive energy with others and, most importantly, with ourselves.
When we work with our shadows, we reclaim the projections we have placed on others, and instead, we go inward, to work on ourselves. We shift toward tidying up our side of the street, instead of worrying about our neighbor’s side of the street.
Steps in shadow work:
1. Identify Your Shadow(s).
What are the personality traits within yourself you dislike? It could be your difficulty in taking accountability, your potential for jealousy, the need to control, a need for external approval or validation, or the tendency to judge others frequently. (See shadow map example below, and create your own to make shadow work easier and more identifiable.)
2. Explore the Origin of Your Shadow.
Ask yourself: what is the origin of your Shadow? Where does it come from? Does it stem from your childhood? A past trauma? Did you see your parents or primary caregivers behaving in a similar or certain way? Try to identify the core of where your shadow(s) come from.
Do not look down on it. Do not attach judgment to it. Do not reject it. Simply accept. We all possess flaws and shadows. Our soul is here to expand, evolve, and shift. Doing the shadow work enables this.
Shadow work leads us to deep healing and finding true inner peace. Shadow work is not easy, but it’s a true path to ascension and creates a space for us to live from a place of wholeness and expansion. Doing shadow work expands our capacity for self-love and fulfilling relationships. It enables us to vibrate at our highest level and reach new depths within our soul.
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