Shadow Work: What Does It Mean To Do Shadow Work?
What does it mean to do shadow work? How can Shadow work help you on your personal growth journey, In-depth guide
The ultimate shadow work guide, in including over 120 questions to help you, is available
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“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate. “- Carl Jung
“To err is human, to forgive is divine” Alexander Pope
What does it mean to do shadow work? Simple explanation
So, what exactly is Shadow work? Put simply, it’s the process of getting to know the parts of yourself that you keep hidden away. This can be anything from traumatic experiences to aspects of your personality that you don’t like. And shadow work isn’t just for people who are in therapy- anyone can do it!
What is an example of shadow work?
Shadow work is the process of peeling away all the layers of your psyche, mind, body and soul-higher consciousness. It can be painful because you will have to confront the parts you may not like.
Think of an onion or a leek and its layers.
This is what shadow work is like, or if you dislike onions and leeks, think of the different layers that make up a lasagne, a finnish sandwich, ice cream sundae, parfait or nachos or anything else you like in layers.
What are some shadow work Questions?
One by one, trauma by trauma will be revealed in shadow work by asking yourself questions like, what habits of mine uplift my life? What habits drain my energy?
What exactly are my triggers, and what experiences created them? How do I feel about them? How could I understand them more?
Am I in touch with my inner child and sense of play? If not, Why not? How can I create a deeper connection with my inner child and its needs?
Who am I? how can I express myself more authentically?
How can I understand the difference between what I desire and what I need? How can I meet my desires in healthy ways that don’t compromise my overall well-being? When did I learn to dislike myself?
There are more questions towards the end that can help you on your shadow work journey.
To begin shadow work, list what you think your shadow traits are. Some things on this list will turn out to be normal behaviours. Still, write them all down and know this list will get bigger as you become more self-aware.
Remember to be gentle with yourself and practice self-forgiveness, love, nurturing, healing and management as you begin your shadow work.
It is essential not to neglect or judge yourself. Although some of the things you will discover may shock you.
Nevertheless, if you commit to the shadow work process, you will find ways to understand, channel and accept your shadow thoughts and behaviours.
How long does shadow work take?
Shadow work is a journey, not a destination; it can take anywhere from 3-5 years to an entire lifetime, but the whole process of shadow work will become easy and more of an automatic process in time.
Do not let the time scales put you off.
Every person is different, and some may be more open to accepting and working with their Shadow than others. Neither is right nor wrong. In fact, there are no right or wrongs in shadow work, just revelations and opportunities to grow.
Also, some of you may have deeper psychological, spiritual or emotional wounds than others.
The main aim of shadow work is to incorporate all the parts of yourself you have repressed or are currently unaware of.
So, you can always show up as your whole self no matter where you are, or at least not get lost in situations as you have a firmer sense of self.
What are examples of shadow aspects?
Shadow behaviours are behaviours the majority of society may find hostile if feelings like rage are left unchanneled into constructive (positive-balanced) outlets such as drawing, writing or any other creative outlet.
Shadow behaviours can become destructive because they are often carried out automatically and driven by unhealed emotional, spiritual or psychological blockages- wounds.
Shadow traits usually come out impulsively as responses to people, your triggers or situations. Uncontrolled shadow traits can have serious consequences due to the words or actions that may be said or done in heated or other moments.
Shadow traits themselves are not wrong, but how we let them out can be.
Shadow traits include:
The ways you procrastinate, defensiveness, stay in your comfort zone and fight change even when needed, laziness, moodiness, compulsions, despair, hopelessness or other sadness can also be viewed as shadow behaviours.
The ways you harm yourself and others, wild desires and aggression, obsessions, unresponsiveness- sarcasm-critical caustic tones and behaviours, brutality, revenge, selfishness, greed, envy, craving power, manipulation.
Dark magic, doing psychic spells and other occult things without consent, and doing something to take other people’s power away are all examples of how shadow behaviours can play out.
However, if you bury them, positive traits can also become shadow traits, such as not using your power or independence or being too emotionally sensitive.
In competitive dog-eat-dog nations, feelings like empathy and compassion are often viewed as a weakness.
The Shadow is not something to get rid off. It is something to be embraced and managed.
Dangers of not doing shadow work
- Toxic relationships with yourself and others
- Creates poor self-esteem and sense of self
- Pushes people away from you
- Creates dark or pessimistic outlooks
- Blinds you to the correct solutions to your problems
- Reliving your past mistakes on a loop as you keep repeating the same experiences
- Stagnation due to blocking personal growth
- Breakdown in communication
- Interferes with cooperation, especially in work, social or other group settings
- Creates poor judgement and decision-making processes
Why is shadow work so hard?
Shadow work can be challenging as it means taking a detached (objective- out of the body) and honest look at yourself.
Without the lies we usually tell ourselves, shadow work requires actively looking for your undesirable traits and confronting the parts of yourself that you and others have rejected or feel disconnected from.
Often shadow work reveals that we have more control over our lives than we think you do.
Shadow work can reveal that you are more responsible for the “bad things- behaviours- circumstances” we usually blame on external events or people.
Sure, they are things we can never control, but we can always control how we respond and act in our daily lives.
We are responsible for the continuous refinement and personal growth of our character- personality.
The core aim of shadow work is the integration of all you are into a seamless personality expression; shadow work is an intentional process.
In comparison to not facing your shadow traits, not doing so usually results in you living your whole life dominated by unintentional processes, Controlled by the unhealed subconscious mind and the wounds that live there.
Which are more often than not detrimental to our overall well-being; Shadow work can reveal parts of yourself you should express more openly and not hide away.
Like your sense of self and the part of you that wants to achieve your goals and reach your highest potential.
Does shadow work heal trauma?
As with all healing tools, philosophies and practices, shadow work can help in the process of you becoming whole.
Although it may not solve your problems when dealing with the issue of healing your physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological trauma, it’s best to take a holistic approach.
Shadow work can be a suitable catalyst for understanding, healing and managing your emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological suffering.
It and be a significant factor in your personal growth and the restoration of trust within yourself.
It can also help you strengthen and create better work, social, intimate and family relationships.
Shadow work can help you tell your adult self and inner child new stories.
Which allows growth and newness into our lives instead of staying stuck in comfort zones and stagnation.
The flawed human and the path to self-realisation- actualisation
To make it clear, all humans have flaws, which make us human and unique. Although we all have similar experiences, we all process and see the world uniquely.
According to Jung, the Shadow contains the parts of an individual that are not acceptable to society and the people in it or the conscious part of the individual personality.
Traits such as envy, revenge, vindictiveness, greed, seduction, lust, Anger, rage, selfishness, and the need for power.
These are an example of “shadow traits” that have been historically rejected by society and individuals.
Repressing and hiding your shadow traits can drain personal vitality and creativity caused by rejecting or blocking emotions, allowing personality traits and negative behaviours to appear in explosive ways.
Typically individuals reject that they could be anything wrong with themselves that contributes to the imbalance of the collective consciousness.
In today’s cancel culture, it’s easy to see the root of the world’s problems in others, not ourselves.
Jung developed the term collective consciousness; the collective consciousness contains all human’s common ideas, attitudes and knowledge.
As well as the totality of the opinions, behaviours, thoughts and ways of relating to yourself and others that are widespread in any country or Nation and are evident in most human beings, collective consciousness can happen in smaller groups.
Such as how a specific family, community, Nation, organisation or generation thinks. It can also be representative of what the majority of people in the world believe to be true.
Some more questions to help you focus on this point are:
What really annoys you about the people you know or who you read about in the world?
Could any of these traits you dislike or despise be within you?
Shadow work asks you to answer complex questions, such as these, to uncover your authentic self and gain balance in your life.
If we repress our shadow personality traits, we can leave our will to live, passion for life, and resourcefulness.
Which can unlock our innate creativity and talents, as well as solutions to your life obstacles and problems.
In gen z slang, shadow work is letting go of all that is cheugy (undesirable) to your personal growth, spilling your own tea to yourself.
Telling your, Self-repressive tendencies to take several back seats and to stop ghosting the parts of yourself you do not like.
Letting go of finessing (manipulating yourself) into self-denial, facing all aspects of yourself so you can glow-up become your best self and live your best life,
By becoming the C.E.O of it, and who knows, you may become a G.O.A.T at shadow work in the process.
What are shadow personality traits?
Imagine driving a car; you need to be conscious to operate it; even if it has automatic transmission, you must make sure you don’t hit anyone walking in the street or other cars.
Yes, we have self-driving cars, but even those are not flawless, so like your own life, when driving, it’s always best to pay attention and be in control of the wheel- and the direction of your life.
But most people allow their thoughts and subconscious minds to run wild and control their lives.
This creates a big problem because allowing your shadow traits to operate automatically without your full awareness causes big issues with your quality of life in the long term
Letting our shadow traits such as Anger, jealousy or hate roam free can lead to us revealing our true feelings without thinking about them.
When we do this, we often face problems in our relationships that seem to come out of nowhere. Yet, they are often the repressed feelings you have bottled up until the subconscious cannot contain them anymore.
Pent-up feelings typically come out in explosive ways that upset others and ourselves and can have far-reaching, life-changing consequences.
No one is saying hide the truth, no it must be told as it sets you free after all, but they are ways we can reveal our subjective truths doing the least harm possible.
To remain unconscious of the Shadow prevents you from building strong relationships.
It impacts your ability to lead yourself and others and take personal responsibility for your life.
Throughout our lives, we are programmed to be what friends, family and society- the world as a whole expect us to be.
So we often reject the parts of ourselves that we are not proud of or are not accepted by others.
Repressed emotions to the surface
Shadow traits can bring up feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, disgust and other undesirable feelings; however, the parts we bury and hide from ourselves come out, often in impulsive or fearful words.
Although they can be scary when shadow traits come out unexpectedly, or you may be aware of them. Still, the thought of expressing your shadow personality traits scares you.
So you numb or hide, repressing the hidden parts of yourself, but even though you may not be aware of it or even if you try to hide it, your shadow traits will always exist.
And the darker side of your personality will continue to wreak destruction on your life until you face them; although at times tedious, long and painful, it is crucial that you deal with your Shadow.
“Your Shadow is all of the things, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’, that you’ve denied about yourself and hidden beneath the surface of the mask you forgot that you’re wearing.”
― Oli Anderson, Shadow Life: Freedom from Bullshit in an Unreal World
Repressing—denying your Shadow can have a negative and dangerous impact on your life.
When not dealt with, the shadow side of your personality often shows itself as emotional thoughts and behaviours that are often triggered-achieved by your environment and the people in it.
Shadow work builds self-awareness, acceptance, understanding, compassion, healing, love and management.
As you train yourself to open up to the shadow traits of your personality in a non-judgmental, healthy and self-aware way, Self-awareness is the process of understanding all the different aspects of yourself, mind, body and Soul.
Your actions, thoughts and emotions; self-awareness is the process of observing yourself.
Shadow work integrates all aspects of your personality, the dark and the light, the love and the dislike-hate.
The inner Shadow, according to Jungian archetypes
According to Carl Jung, an individual cannot know themselves until they explore their archetypes
In Jungian psychology, they are 12 archetypes, which you can read in full about here, but below are the main ones that are involved in shadow work :.
Shadow work is about raising your individual self-conscious- awareness, which is at the Centre of your psyche (human soul- personality).
To become your whole self, you must integrate all aspects of your personality, Shadow, warts and all.
The process of becoming whole includes building your self-awareness and acknowledging the Shadow.
Esoterically this is the higher self, which tames and controls the lower self and initiates into higher consciousness- divinity
Explanation of the Persona, Shadow, Anima and some of the archetypes
Persona– The many social masks we wear to defend ourselves from pain, to hide our Shadow and to conform to the many expectations of our societies, Nations, friends, family and any intimate partners.
To protect yourself from rejection or self-loathing, the Persona hides who you authentically are. Who you are authentically is the integration of your inner child, adult self, Shadow and good traits – innate talents.
The Persona is your P.R.- Public relation machine allowing you to give a false impression to gain what you want and avoid rejection. Most people have at least 3-7 personas; personas within themselves are not detrimental.
They only become that way if you get lost in them, if they are built on other people’s expectations, or if you have a false sense of who you are or should be.
The Shadow– the things we don’t like about ourselves that often show up in others. For some, it’s their emotions; for others, it is behaviours that are viewed as dark. Such as vindictiveness or behaviour that is frowned upon by society, such as drug taking or prostitution.
In the Native American myth of the two wolves and the symbolic meaning of Cain and Able in the bible, the Shadow can be made up of the self-pitying, arrogant, egotistical part of human nature. That needs to be understood and managed, not rejected.
But remember, many people have hidden positive traits into their Shadow because of what others have said, or the things they have come to believe are true about these “positive” traits.
Anima- provides access to the feminine side of your nature, the unconscious feminine side of an individual.
The anima is the weird and wonderful, extraordinary, otherworldly or perfect image of what someone who identifies as a woman or with the feminine side of their nature should be like.
In the perception of those who identify with the most masculine side of their nature or as Him/He? Cis Male.
The idealised woman comes in many forms, such as the femme fatale, doting housewife, good woman, or the darker side of the female like a Siren or a Tarry rash wanton in the words of Shakespeare.
The anima can also be the side of those who express their masculine energy strongly.
Which romanticises/ idolises a person or thing, such as a luxury home, watch or car.
Animus– the part of you that is capable of knowing and accepting all aspects of yourself, leading to self-actualisation.
The unconscious/ subconscious side for the feminine side of a person or a person who identifies as She/Her.
On the spiritual level, all people have masculine and feminine sides. In Jungian and shadow work, the Animus is the foundation- supply of power and meaning.
At worse, it can develop animosity for men or the masculine side of your nature or be disruptive.
At best, it allows you to form balanced opinions on masculinity, allowing for introspection that leads to self-awareness.
And for you to know yourself on all levels, the Shadow and the light, merging the two.
The Hero– The part of you who wants you to follow your own bliss, in the words of Joseph Campbell, and can overcome self-destructive tendencies.
Still, doing this often requires great sacrifice and often social rejection. So the shadow/ ego side of someone often avoids self-knowledge because e of this.
The Hero is the one who overcomes their shadow traits and self-destructive thoughts, behaviours and relationships.
Allowing yourself to rebirth into your authentic self by doing shadow work.
Such as Luke in Star Wars, Harry in Harry Potter and Beatrice Prior in Diverge.
The sage / wise old women/ man etc.: access to inner and outer wisdom, the divine- prophet-like side of each person.
The person who chooses to do the right thing and guides themselves and others to do so. Regardless of the consequences and obstacles.
Film examples are Mr Miyagi, the karate kid, Gandalf in the lord of the rings, the fairy godmother in Cinderella, Yoda, and Rafiki in the Lion King.
Ronnie in Menace to society, Mulan in Mulan and Emma in once upon a time.
The trickster– the side of yourself that tricks yourself and others and needs instant satisfaction. The greedy, seductive, lazy and over-indulgent side of the human being, the side of you that wants everything now, the deceiver.
The vindictive side of your nature, which seeks pleasure regardless of the cost, is the part of you willing to destroy yourself through your thought, habit and relationship patterns.
The brat– childish, petty side of a person who wants their own way- now, the brat can be highly manipulative, bad-tempered, immature, self-centred, excessive and driven by desire.
Examples of the trickster archetype are Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, Pan, the Norse god, and Robin Hood. Loki, the god of chaos, Bart Simpson.
The mask in the Mask, River song in D.R. Who, Dionysus, the Greek god of music, wilily Wonka, and Anansi, the African spider trickster who believes he can trick anyone.
Eris, the Greek goddess of discord; Eshu in the Yoruba Religion; Hermes, the messenger of the gods and Prometheus.
Aspects of your Shadow in in-depth
In Jungian psychology, the shadow personality (archetype) is viewed as the self-seeking, egotistical, overly emotional, dark-destructive side of your character and psyche.
Still, often, you can place perfectly normal and acceptable personality traits into your shadow expression.
For instance, if you were called a geek- know it all as a child.
You may act foolishly or as if you don’t have any intelligence falling into the trickster mode to hide your innate intelligence to protect yourself from rejection and mockery.
But having intelligence and using it is not a shadow trait, but it can become one if you hide it because instead of expressing who you are authentic.
You put on a persona to avoid social, career or intimate rejection, so you begin to see your cleverness or other valuable personality traits as a threat to your identity and, therefore, survival in the world.
So you hide it, which creates a shadow over your overall self-expression because you are not the real you, instead conforming to what you think others expect of you.
Based on your experiences of having aspects of your personality rejected in your past, this can lead you to subconsciously reject yourself.
What are the things you hide about yourself? Make a list? Yes, some of them will fall into the typical shadow trait category like lust, greed, and need for power.
But others will be perfectly normal traits, like the ability to be diplomatic, sing, draw, play an instrument, write, public speaking and other talents you may hide.
Often these habits were formed in your early childhood or past lives because we know how cruel other children and people, in general, can be at times.
Rejection from others of your talent or self-expression creates defence mechanisms, Which form automatic reactions and negative self-talk.
The wayward thoughts that go around your mind stop you from doing the things you can.
Telling you things like you cannot do this or that, or you’re not good enough, or that bad things will happen to you if you try to do the things that will help your growth.
Negative self-talk and automatic subconscious reactions are caused by unhealed psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma that are the root causes of feelings of not being good enough, unfulfillment, self-sabotage and, more importantly, your shadow behaviours
How do your shadow personality traits influence you in focus
When you reject the shadow side of your nature, doing this affects all areas of your life psychological, emotional, spiritual, financial and physical.
Often making you react and act in automatic self-destructive ways decreases your overall well-being and brings dysfunction into your relationships.
This is why it’s essential to meet, understand, heal, make peace and manage your shadow personality traits across your lifespan.
Your Shadow wants, needs and yearns to be accepted and not rejected.
It requires your tender care, understanding and approval; often, we fall into the treating ourselves and ourselves in the same ways as the person(s) who rejected these traits or talents in your in the first place.
Your Shadow doesn’t need your shame, abandonment, numbing or guilt.
It needs your compassion and love, so you can release your innate creativity and talent.
Integrating your shadow personality into your whole self-expression is essential for all your well-being and personal growth.
The main consequences of repressing and disregarding your Shadow.
None of the symptoms below are exclusive to shadow traits, nothing mentioned is to induce guilt or shame but to provoke self-awareness as you progress into adulthood.
If you are not severally physically or cognitively impaired in a way that affects your ability to train yourself to do shadow work). Then there is no reason for you not to become responsible for knowing who you are and how to manage your moods.
The ways you shadow behaviours may show up in your life
- Using alcohol, drugs, toxic relationships, porn and other self-destructive and distractive behaviour to numb yourself from your Shadow and unresolved problems
- Self-loathing – Hate
- Toxic relationships with yourself and others
- Perversion of your creative energy- abuse of the sex need
- Self-deception and lying to others about who you are
- Self-sabotage and absorption
- Poor sense of self
- Fits of rage and other forms of aggression automatically activated by your unhealed emotional, psychological and spiritual blockages are contained in your subconscious.
- Coming across as narcissistic, forming a God complex, and thinking you are better than others.Because you refuse to see your own Shadow and focus on other people’s shadow traits or believe that you only have positive personality traits.
- Divisive- cancel culture type of behaviour that causes division in yourself and others, i.e., ageist, racist, homophobic, extreme nationalist and other hateful behaviours.
- Splitting- when we wear personas, we find it hard to know who we are, which can lead to hypocrisy, where your words say you are one person, but your actions show you are another
- Greed, delusions of grandeur and addictive behaviour
- Severe depressive and anxious mood swings.
- Suicidal thoughts are an idealisation that has its roots in psychosomatic feelings….not being able to protect yourself from the moods of others or not knowing they are why you feel the way you do.
- Know that other people are still not to blame for this, and neither are you, but it is your duty to work on protecting yourself from these feelings. By finding out ways how to do so, distancing yourself as much as you can from these, learning not to let them affect you so much- which is hard, I am the overly sensitive type. Still, I have had to learn to become wiser in my emotional management.
- Increase feelings of stress and other psychological health issues such as depression, anxiety obsessive negative thought patterns.
- Keeping Generation Trauma /Generational Dysfunction (G.T.- F.D) alive, G.T.s are the wounds passed on to you from your current life parents, Family, Friends, Religion, Community, Nation, the world on large and your past life soul – higher consciousness experiences.
- Passing on generational trauma from one generation to the next, if you don’t do the work of healing your shadow traits, its likely these traits will be passed on to any children you have or anyone else you have intimate relationships with.
This list is not comprehensive, yet these are the main cause of not repressing, not understanding and healing your Shadow
Projection and the Shadow
In a nutshell, projection is when we see things in other people that are actually within ourselves
“If you were easier on yourself, you wouldn’t be so tough on everyone else.”
― Kate McGahan
In the introduction, I mentioned that most people often project their shadow traits onto other people. I asked what things really bug you about other people and if you thought that any of these traits were also in yourself?
When we don’t acknowledge our shadow traits, they often show up in others, or more currently put, we can only see the negativity in others and not ourselves.
And even if you are aware of your shadow traits, you may consciously refuse to deal with and accept them.
And as a result, punish others who trigger your awareness of your own negative behaviours when they exhibit your rejected thoughts and behaviours.
"One of the ways that people avoid taking responsibility for their role in their own pain is what I call the B.P.s - blame and projection." -Iyanla Vanzant
Above I mentioned that divisive behaviours such as racism and homophobia that promote hatred of other people based on their personal preferences, skin colour, or culture could dehumanise them.
In a way that, you may not see them as equal to yourself and therefore deserving of all negative things that happen to them, but often, we only do this to others because we do this to ourselves when we neglect our shadow traits.
Most humans believe they do not deserve the good they receive or wish for themselves. That can be a conscious, yet it is mainly a subconscious process that directs many self-destructive thoughts and behaviours.
On the extreme end, people can end up physically, emotionally or psychological harming those they see as A. another or their enemies.
I mentioned earlier that all humans are flawed; no one is or ever will be perfect, so everyone is guilty of projection in one form or the other.
The way to reduce projection is to accept your dark personality traits
The rejection or mismanagement /use of shadow traits are two main reasons our collective consciousness is ever-expanding with trauma and discontent.
Suppose we want a more peaceful, loving, accepting and functional world. In that case, each person who is able to do so must take personal responsibility for integrating all of their personality traits, especially their shadow traits.
What exactly is Shadow work?
I mentioned Jungian archetypes above, detailing the eight main ones for the purpose of this article on shadow work; the central proposition of shadow work is that we have different parts of ourselves.
As demonstrated by the archetypes, on the spiritual, esoteric level, an individual is made up of the spirit- this is the highest self, which is often heard as a small quiet voice or inner knowing or feeling that always wants the best for you and tries to guide you to it.
The part of the human being that contains the Shadow also includes all the personality traits that you have built up over this and all your other lifetimes.
Shadow work is the process of finding, understanding, healing, loving, forgiving, accepting and loving the parts of yourself you numb or repressed yourself to because of them being rejected in this lifetime or another by others or yourself.
Regarding your current lifetime, most shadow behaviours are formed from childhood rejection.
In shadow work, the main aim is to accept the sides of yourself you were told were unacceptable.
Even rage can be channelled into positive self-expression, such as poetry, music, graphic design, dance or anything else that allows you to release this emotion safely.
What are the main goals of shadow work?
The main aim of shadow work is to know yourself on all levels, warts and all and make a deep connection to your inner child and highest self by accepting your lowest self ( shadow traits)
Shadow work helps you make your subconscious – conscious so you’re not fated to repeat your past experiences, embracing the parts of yourself you have hidden from or find unpleasant.
The truth will free you from suffering
The truth sets you free. It’s a very liberating thing when you say this is who I am, warts and all, and then you can just get on with life. It’s amazing. -Geri Halliwell
Knowing your dark side is not a flaw or mistake. In fact, we often need our shadow traits to help us unlock our creativity and avoid toxic behaviours by setting boundaries on what you allow other people and yourself to do to you
Shadow work is needed so that you can love, forgive, accept, have compassion and become aware of yourself on all levels.
You may not like all that shadow work reveals to you, but it is necessary for total self-approval.
You can do shadow work on your own, but you may want to seek out the help of a therapist or life coach to help you, as it can be tedious at times and painful to begin with.
Yet it’s worth it because it leads to you unleashing your innate talents and creativity.
Self-exploration and personal growth are the main themes of shadow work.
Helping you see how your automatic responses and unhealed psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma have cut you off from fully experiencing yourself, your life and other people.
Allowing you to become self-empowered, act with more intent and express yourself authentically.
The 12 main benefits of shadow work:
Shadow work has a lot of positive benefits, but here I will name the top 12.
Remember, your shadow traits are only problematic and weaknesses when we deny them. When you acknowledge the dark side of your personality, you can free yourself from self-doubt, rejection and hate.
Freeing you up to pursue your authentic passions and your social, relationship, career, spiritual, financial, emotional, psychological and other wellness goals.
You will become more comfortable with who you are as you stop repressing your shadow traits. Helping you reduce self-loathing and raise your self-esteem. As you do this, your self-awareness ( knowledge of all aspects of yourself) increases.
Self-acceptance is not an easy road; you will sometimes feel like you accept yourself, and at other times you will feel like you do not. It is a process, and be gentle with yourself all the time.
2. Increase self-assurance and esteem:
Shadow work helps you show up as who you really are in every situation in your life, no longer hiding your Shadow.
But taking it everywhere you go, expressing it in harmonious ways, and no longer being afraid to see and show your flaws.
Admitting when you make mistakes, as you know, everyone else makes them too. Practising to no longer feeling shame or guilt about your shadow personality traits.
Allowing yourself to set goals, uncover your innate talents and creativity, becoming more confident as you progress in your growth journey
3. Improve the quality of the relationship you have with yourself and others:
When you do shadow work, you will become more aware of the needs and motivations of yourself and others.
You will become more vigilant of your own emotions. As you welcome your dark traits more, you will become more understanding of others’ flaws, improving your relationships.
Being able to say what you really mean and hear what others have to say without taking it as a direct attack on your character unless it is.
If others try to take advantage of you, especially if you were historically a people pleaser. Doing shadow work can make you stand up for yourself more and let go of the situations and people who are no longer in alignment with who you are becoming. Gaining self-respect, insight and clarity.
4. Improve your problem-solving skills and creativity:
Because you will be able to see yourself more clearly by accepting your Shadow, you will gain insight into all sides of your personality.
Helping you solve problems in your expression and environment more effectively because you will become less blindsided by your automatic reactions.
This allows you to uncover the distinctly original aspects of your personality that were once buried in your Shadow, which will help you overcome your life obstacles.
5: unlock your buried talents:
Doing shadow work will unlock the hidden strengths you were unaware of before. Your weaknesses are only weaknesses when you don’t understand how to use them effectively.
Shadow work improves your conscious actions and reactions; although we are trained to believe all the things we repress and hide are bad and undesirable, shadow work will help you have you can transmute your dark side into positive self-expression.
Within each of us are worlds locked away. Shadow work helps you penetrate these worlds and vast sources of creative expression.
“The only journey is the one within.”- Rainer Maria Rilke
6: help you heal your generational dysfunction (trauma):
As I mentioned before, most of our wounds start in childhood, and family dysfunction is often passed down to each member.
On the spiritual level, soul dysfunction is accumulated over previous incarnations and is also part of the Soul- higher consciousness shadow.
On the practical – present life ancestor line, doing shadow work on yourself can help members of your own family heal, especially if you have children.
Breaking toxic thought, behaviour and relationship pattern within your family so that these patterns are broken within your generation.
7: become more compassionate, understanding and reasonable with yourself and others:
Because you will have to learn to accept your Shadow and love it, you will be able to have more empathy for other people’s struggles.
Instead of shunning them, you will embrace them. Shadow work helps you project your negative traits less onto others and accept them within you.
So you will be less triggered by others’ eccentricities and more willing and able to accept their shadow sides.
Making room for genuine connections, accepting all humans have flaws, and people you once dislike will also not bother you as much; you will become less discriminative and more inclusive.
8: Gain more psychological, spiritual and emotional stability:
Because you are able to see yourself more clearly, you will begin to feel more peace within yourself when you start the lifelong process of shadow work.
As you self-reflect and seek out more knowledge, opening yourself up to new ideas and experiences, you will gain more courage to accept your changing moods and behaviours.
Doing the work to slowly understand and manage your different psychological and emotional states, opening up to spiritual, higher consciousness- the deeper meaning of life concepts.
Building a deeper connection with your highest self and whomever you call or see as god- the higher power.
9: Improve your overall well-being; shadow work gets to the root causes of many of your problems:
When we lock away our Shadow, we often cause instability within our self-expression that carries over into all aspects of ourselves, emotional, psychological and spiritual.
And your life social, intimate, personal and career, which can diminish your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellness.
When you don’t do shadow work, you often think the patterns (experiences)you repeat in your life are fate or out of your control.
But as you become self-aware, you will see how the repression of your shadow side contributed to these feelings of instability and lack of vitality.
Of course, not everything that goes wrong in your life is down to your, self-repression. Still, doing shadow work gives you more control over your emotional and psychological states and improves your overall wellness.
10: You will feel more integrated and whole:
Shadow work gives you more courage to face life’s uncertainties and feel more confident with all aspects of yourself.
Realising you are enough and that you can show up in the world as who you authentically are, you will grow a deeper love and acceptance of your entire being.
Instead of looking at yourself as a sum of different parts, you will start to take a more wholistic look at your behaviour.
Seeing the importance of uncovering, understanding, nurturing and expressing your shadow traits.
11: have more insight and overall clarity:
Shadow work gives you a greater understanding of how your thoughts, feelings, and unresolved trauma causes you to act and react in itself destructive ways you do.
This awareness helps you not to react solely on your emotions to make decisions or to be continued to be controlled by the unhealed trauma in your subconscious and the impulsive actions or reactions it drives you to.
Allowing you to use logic to consciously choose how you act and respond to the events in your life.
12: build a connection to your highest self:
You will begin to see that you have a higher self within you that knows what you want and need instead of allowing your self-destructive behaviours to call the shots.
You will let your highest self and conscious reasoning skills lead you to positive thoughts, behaviours and ways of relating to yourself and others.
Reducing addictive behaviours and using intoxicating substances, sex, and other distractions stop you from thinking before you react, which drives you to numb yourself to your Shadow.
Summary of the 12 benefits of shadow work:
Shadow work helps you uncover the emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma that keeps you cut off from yourself and repeating painful experiences in your life.
Uncovering the dark traits of your personality that you project onto others.
Shadow work helps you gain self-awareness, insight, balance and acceptance and lets you let go of the toxicity and distractions in your life.
It is best not to rush shadow work, the process is very in-depth, but it allows you to know yourself inside out and accept yourself, warts and all.
Because shadow work targets the foundations of the problem and not just their surface manifestations.
For example, you may be an anxious person, always on edge, but why are you this way?
Were the moods constantly changing in your household when you were younger, making you anxious about doing the wrong thing?
So now, you are always on edge in adulthood, waiting for the next mood swing?
The initial wound- triggers vary from person to person. Still, shadow work has a vast array of benefits beyond the 12 listed above; the biggest are self-respect, understanding love and management.
How to know if you should start Shadow work?
If you feel you have had enough of how your life is now, because shadow work requires a lot of your time and energy, it is best to make sure you are aware of this and seek out help to support you if need be.
The most important thing is not to rush and shun the parts of yourself you will find.
Some of your uncovered dark traits may scare you and cause more trauma.
Because, from personal experience, it can be hard to see and accept the darkest in yourself.
But once you work towards doing this, you will feel more authentic and rejuvenated, like a new person, eventually.
The Shadow needs love and self-expression as much as your positive traits, and doing so helps you feel more vigorous.
Shadow work is essential for personal growth and healthy relationships.
They are many ways to do shadow work, and not all the ways will be suitable for you, so do your research and pick the right person(s) to support you on this journey, whether it is a therapist or life coach.
Below are some tips and starting points- techniques for shadow work.
It is crucial that you feel prepared to start shadow work as part of your self-love and wellness regime. Shadow work needs you to be willing to love or at least like yourself.
My advice is not to start unless you feel ready to, but the paradox of that is that you may always feel this way. If you’re unsure, talk to someone who is qualified in shadow work.
Shadow work has many layers. All people alive are on different journeys.
What works for someone may not work for the next person, so don’t feel discouraged if your shadow work journey takes longer than expected.
It really is a lifelong process.
There is no end, don’t let this fact scare you; see the beauty in the necessary lifelong growth process, as it’s when we think we know it all or have made it that any progress may slip.
So it’s best to compete to practise all the tools that help you become a better person routinely.
Remember, Most of our problems started as individuals when we were told to start doing this or that, instead of being encouraged to channel our shadow behaviours into positive self-expression and hobbies.
If you struggle with severe psychological or emotional health issues, seek professional advice before you start shadow work because the traits you find when you begin this work can be painful to accept.
And you may need support doing so
If you have a poor sense of self and dislike yourself or have clinical psychological health issues. It is doubly important that you get professional advice before starting shadow work.
You don’t have to love yourself to start shadow work, but you must be aware that you will uncover parts of yourself.
That you won’t like, and if you struggle with deep self-hate, this can make you despise yourself more.
Nine key things to be aware of before and during your start shadow work
1: 1st things first, decide if you want to do shadow work alone or with a professional or someone else you can trust
Decide whether or not you’ll seek professional advice
You don’t have to seek out a therapist for shadow work.
You can find a mentor to help you with the process, or you can ask someone else you trust but make sure they themselves are in the right space to help you.
If you’ve got a serious problem, a trained professional can spot the pattern within you, and you’ll know what it is.
So it may be best to engage their help so that they can help you overcome any triggers you might encounter.
You’ll get personalised prompts to guide you through your shadow work journey within professional or alternative therapy.
It can be helpful to have someone to guide you through the process as this can save time and give you insightful guidance that helps you see and accept your shadow traits more clearly.
An expert can see a pattern in you that you’re unaware of and help you deal with the many triggers you will uncover during your journey.
If you use a therapist, they can give you personalised prompts to guide you through your shadow work journey.
2: ask yourself if you have the time to commit to the process
Are you ready to take action? Shadow work is not for the faint of heart.
If you start shadow work, it is unlikely you will be able to go back to how you were before you started shadow work. You may lose interest in your past, including friends, partners, drinks and other activities you used to like.
Facing your own shadow traits takes patience, willpower, diligence, and perseverance.
Are you willing to intentionally devote time each day to your shadow work practice?
You don’t need to spend hours, and even a few minutes of your day will do and give you immense wellness benefits. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
If you are willing to take the time, Shadow Work is not a “lukewarm” practice. It can get pretty intense.
And remember, take your time once again, as this is important. I don’t want you to crash and burn. It’s vital to take a break from your shadow work journey.
3: The mirror technique- Get good at identifying your shadow personality traits and their triggers. Learning to understand that your negative emotions are telling you something is wrong that needs to be acknowledged.
To start shadow work, it’s crucial to determine what habits are good and what habits are not good in your life.
This is the first step toward breaking free from the toxic thought and behaviour patterns in your life that are holding you back from living life to the full and achieving your goals
It’s easy to fall into repeating the same patterns over and over again in your life.
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: When dealing with triggers, it’s helpful to understand that they remind you of past trauma.
Not to punish you but to bring to your attention that your Shadow wants to be seen, understood and healed.
Practice the mirror technique when you notice yourself projecting your negative traits onto others.
To practice the mirror technique, you need to pay attention to how you think and feel when you interact with others
When negative emotions come up, ask yourself if you are being unkind to yourself or someone else. For example, you may think that your friend is a people pleaser.
And call them out for this behaviour, but ask yourself do you get so angry at your friend for this behaviour? Because this is also part of your shadow behaviour?
Or you may think another friend is a know-it-all who always shows off their talents. Are you triggered because you repress the side of you that is intelligent and talented?
Due to early childhood trauma that evoked guilt and shame when you showed your cleverness, the mirror technique asks you to ask yourself why you feel the way you do.
Paying attention to the emotions that come up in your when your spiritual, psychological or emotional wounds come up.
Summary: In order to practice the mirror technique, you’ll have to observe yourself interacting with other people.
When you notice yourself getting upset at someone else, ask yourself if it’s possible that you are projecting?
I will talk more about the mirror technique below when I look at the best shadow work techniques to get you started on your journey
4: Ask yourself why you are doing shadow work:
Do you want to be validated, or do you want to find the truth? Or because you see it as some sort of spiritual or another status-type badge?
Facing your dark traits is not like other mainstream spiritual practices. Shadow work will not make you feel good like a good shot of D.M.T., CBD, or other popular trends.
It is not feel good like burning some sage and manifesting with the law of attraction. It is hard work. It is real work. Make no odds. Shadow Work is challenging but not impossible to complete.
I say this not is superior but to give you the truth if I knew personally what it entailed, I am not sure I would have started it in the phase of my life I was in.
Anyone who follows the path of truth is a seeker of truth, not a seeker of validation.
At times shadow work can be invalidating as your ego drops away, and you have to be authentic about how you show up in the world.
Lying to yourself will become harder, and you may come to see that things you were sure were truths about the world and the people in it are not, and this can knock you for six—shock and unnerve you to your core.
5: you will have to revisit painful childhood wounds:
You must think about what parts of your childhood might have made you feel bad about yourself? Or how you might have felt less important than other children, including any siblings, friends or extended family members.
Which emotions were you punished for having? Many children are told to “get over” their Anger or sadness.
Think about your past. What parts of you were considered less than or bad when you were a child?
I was punished for having some angry feelings, and my teachers did not understand my behaviour. Had nothing to do with the situation but with my environment at home.
In response, I repressed feelings I came to believe as undesirable coming to believe they are harmful.
As a result, I, like a lot of children, become emotionally constipated, viewing my feelings as bad, things to deny, not address.
We don’t want to get angry when we think about how we were treated as children because if we do, we may never stop raging.
We grow up believing that we’re wrong and that others are good.
Are you prepared to deal with the conversations you may need to have with those who hurt you, including your parents?
Talking directly to them is not always necessary; it is often safer to role-play.
A process where you pretend you are talking to those who are hurt; you can interchange between playing the role of yourself or them if you choose to work alone on your Shadow.
If you use a therapist or life coach to help you with shadow work, they may play the role of you, the person(s) who hurt you, or those to whom you caused pain.
What’s essential about revisiting your childhood or other traumatic experiences during shadow work is to feel the emotions you’re feeling and let them out.
Role-playing is an excellent way of addressing your early rejections.
This process can help you feel better about yourself, and you may have some fun at the same time.
Some questions to help you think about the people who caused you pain in your early years.
How do you feel about that person? Are you still angry or ready to let go of the hurt?
We can’t help but be angry when we think about how we were treated as a child.
What’s important is to feel those emotions and let them out. It’s a way of getting rid of the guilt and shame that’s built up inside of you.
As adults, we often act out our suppressed emotions in negative ways. Do you know what I mean? We might be angry with someone but unwilling to admit it.
So we lash out at them. Or we take it out on ourselves. Or we drink or do drugs.
We use alcohol to numb out, to make us feel less bad. Or we turn to food, and we use food to comfort ourselves. So much of how we live today is about avoiding pain.
Facing your Shadow by doing the work helps you to understand and release this pain.
Remember, feelings such as Anger, unhappiness or wanting to learn and build your intelligence are normal.
Still, we can learn to manage negative emotions such as Anger healthily.
What’s important is to feel your emotions and let them out.
This is the best thing to get rid of the guilt and shame you’ve built up inside you over your lifetime.
6: shadow work requires you to enter a sacred, peaceful and safe space:
When doing Shadow Work, it is essential to enter a calm space.
The process will be impeded by constant worry and hypercritical self-judgement. It is best to in incorporate a calming meditation or stillness routine.
You don’t have to do meditation; you can do anything that makes you feel relaxed, but if you choose meditation, here are some prompts.
You can search for basic meditation techniques that help you connect to the present moment.
Such as sitting with your eyes closed, breathing deeply, focusing on your breath, and paying attention to your thoughts.
Periodically ask yourself why you have come to think about things the way you do.
7: you will have to train yourself to work through any feelings of shame or guilt that come up:
Your Shadow wants acceptance, and your Soul longs for freedom.
The fact is, your Shadow is you and all of us long to feel whole. We often look to other people, products and services to fill our inner void.
Yet, shadow work and taking responsibility to meet your own need are big parts of the process of becoming whole.
Acknowledging your Shadow and having compassion for yourself, life is hard. Yet, we can make it easier by accepting all parts of ourselves.
Remember that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to learn from your mistakes, move on from your past, and create a better life for yourself.
There are times when we feel less than perfect and are ashamed of how we look or feel.
People try to change themselves in order to be accepted. Still, in shadow work, you transform yourself so you can approve instead of rejecting yourself.
We often become attached to our thoughts, and it’s normal to get attached to our ideas about ourselves.
When it comes to our lives, our Shadow isn’t who the whole of who we are.
It’s just a part of yourself that, like all other aspects of you, needs to be loved, understood, nurtured and managed.
If you’re feeling the pain of shame and self-hatred, keep in mind that they are a part of your Shadow.
You’re not doing anything wrong. Your Shadow’s trying to tell you something, and there’s a good chance it’s trying to tell you to heal and let it go of your emotional, psychological and spiritual baggage.
To accept your Shadow is to see it for what it is, which means acknowledging it as a part of you. You’re already “in the dark”, as it is.
Accepting your Shadow is the first step toward being comfortable with it. Realise that it’s there, and then ask yourself how you can work with your Shadow.
8: it's essential to train yourself to be aware that you're not your thoughts:
Often our thoughts result from the negative words others have said to us and the constant stream of toxic waste in our collective unconsciousness.
In Shadow Work, you are not your thoughts. It is essential for you to realise this for healing and freedom to occur.
Only from your calm and quiet inner Centre (also known as your Soul) can you be aware of your Shadow aspects.
Keep all your thoughts and feelings in awareness. You will see that they are ultimately just mental phenomena ( thought processes) that don’t define who you are.
Thoughts rise and fall, and your integrated self, Your authentic self, is made or more rightly found, through shadow work, self-healing self-reflection
Refining and managing your character and learning to train your subconscious to repeat the thoughts that you want that enrich your life and promote your well-being.
9. Have more empathy for yourself:
Self-compassion is vital to Shadow Work. It’s crucial that you have compassion and self-acceptance when working with your Shadow. Otherwise, you might start
If you don’t show love and understanding to yourself, It’s almost guaranteed that your shadow work will backfire and make you feel terrible.
To live fully, focus on the self-love and compassion that are already within you, and you will be able to release any shame and embrace your humanity.
I’ve been practising self-compassion for the past five years, and I can attest to its effectiveness.
For Shadow Work to have any impact at all, you must show love and understanding to yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. I agree that self-love is very important, and you should strive to be compassionate with yourself.
Loving ourselves and having compassion for others is our most powerful tool for healing.
When we don’t focus on ourselves, we stop being critical of our shortcomings.
Shame can often keep us trapped in a vicious cycle of feeling bad about ourselves and taking on habits that lead to you persistently feeling bad.
Summary: take away point: Self-love and compassion are two of the most powerful tools we have for healing.
When we focus on ourselves, we start to see our strengths and weaknesses more objectively. This can help us to overcome any shame or self-judgement we may feel.
100 Questions that can help you on your personal shadow work journey
- Do you believe you have dark personality traits?
- What do you think about your own or other people’s shadow traits?
- Do you accept all of yourself?
- Do you have strong beliefs? What are they?
- Are they based on your own analysis or what you have been told to believe?
- What would you say your core values(highest priorities) are?
- What views would you never change?
- What are your triggers?
- How did your triggers develop?
- What triggers your defence or other mechanisms?
- What things or people make you aggressive, sad, jealous, vengeful etc.?
- Do you hate, resent, or have bitterness or grudges towards anyone or a situation that happened in your past?
- How can you let go of these resentments?
- Whets blocking you from letting go and forgiving yourself and others?
- Do you feel that other people do not get you? If so, why? In what ways do you think they misunderstand you?
- Do you express a real you for them to get? Or is your personality expression all over the place, covered in Personas- social masks
- How do you feel about your parents, siblings, friends, and any current or past intimate partners?
- Do you have things you feel you need to say to them that stops you all from having an authentic relationship?
- How can you make your relationship healthier and more satisfying?
- Will other people be open to your truth; do you need to distance yourself from anyone?
- Do you have boundaries?
- Does anyone repeatedly refuse to acknowledge them?
- How does this affect you?
- How can you create stronger boundaries?
- Do you fear setting them? Why?
- Are there relationships that need to be let go off because they reinforce your poor sense of self?
- Which of your relationships do you feel safe in? Which ones do you feel insecure about?
- Do you have a sense of self?
- What is it?
- Do other people respect you? Do you respect others?
- What parts of yourself do you dislike?
- What parts of yourself would you change? And why?
- What things do you feel you cannot forgive yourself for?
- What is the worst thing you believe you have done?
- What are your biggest regrets, if any?
- Can you understand that we can only do the best we can at the time with our current level of awareness? This isn’t to say there isn’t any right or wrong or to justify any harmful behaviour that hurts you and others. It’s to get you to focus on the fact you can only change your future and not the past. The past can only be understood, learned from and let go of. No matter how much you wish that you could go back- you cannot
- All humans make mistakes. The best thing we can do with past errors is not to repeat them.
- Do you love yourself?
- Do you exercise, have a hobby or do anything else consistently for yourself? And I am not body shaming here
- Do you engage in self-care? If not, how can you bring it into your life? What would self-care look like to you?
- Are you satisfied with who you have become? If not, why not? What would you do to make your life better?
- In 5 years, where would you be if you had your choice?
- What are your most positive childhood memories?
- What are your most negative childhood memories?
- What memories bring you shame, fear, guilt, and feelings of abandonment? Why?
- Have you changed since you carried out the things that evoke this feeling? If not, how can you change?
- In what ways do you feel your family supported you when you were young?
- In what ways do you feel they rejected and neglected you?
- How do you view your family/ caregivers? Do you believe that you share any good or bad traits with them?
- Do you repeat the same toxic relationship patterns in your life? Did all your exes cheat, or do you cheat? What are the patterns that reoccur in your intimate relationships?
- How do you feel about the world and the people in it? Are there certain types of people you strongly dislike? Why?
- Do you give your time, money, energy and other resources to people who are toxic and that you should like go off? Why?
- Do you feel like you don’t deserve the things you really want?
- Are you critical of yourself, and why?
- Do you find it easy to love and forgive yourself? If not? Why not?
- Do you constantly put yourself down or make yourself earn things? Instead of giving them to yourself freely?
- Do you have negative mind chatter, the voice that constantly puts you down? What are the main things it/they say?
- Do you have things you never allow yourself to think about? And why?
- How do you deal with your psychological, emotional and spiritual suffering?
- Do you avoid certain emotions by numbing or distracting yourself from them, and why?
- How do you feel about solitude? Do you avoid being alone? Is this why you keep certain people in your life?
- Do you have any self-destructive or addictive behaviours? If so, what are they? Do they stop you from functioning or feeling the fullness of your life?
- Are you sensitive to criticism, even if its constructive-trying to help you? If so, why?
- How do you feel about change? Do you resist it? Why? Where did you learn this from?
- List the steps you could take to change your toxic relationships, especially the negative ways you interact with yourself.
- List the steps you can take to slowly but surely change your toxic behaviours and thought patterns
- Do you believe you can make a better life for yourself?
- Do you allow yourself to love, give and receive affection?
- How do you feel about being vulnerable or others being vulnerable with you?
- Do you worry about what others think of you?
- Do you hide away from “corny” emotions?
- Or do you embrace them? If so, why?
- What are your darkest desires?
- Do you express them? Do you talk about them? If not, why?
- Could you think about healthy ways to let your authentic passions-desires out?
- What are your greatest fears?
- Why do you struggle with dark emotions such as rage or envy?
- Do you envy anyone?
- Do you wish to seek revenge on anyone? And why?
- Do you judge others?
- Do you feel judged?
- When was the last time you let someone down?
- When was the last time you felt let down?
- Which person has hurt you most in your life?
- Which person have you hurt the most?
- In what ways do you feel full?
- In what ways do you feel empty? How can you develop ways to overcome these feelings?
- In what ways do you give your power away? How can you reclaim it?
- What or who influences you the most in your life? Do they deserve this authority?
- In what ways do you feel free? Do you know what your purpose is? If not, how can you find it?
- Do you welcome or fear confrontation? Why?
- Have you ever let go of a relationship? Why? How did it make you feel?
- Do you have empathy for yourself? If not, why?
- Do you view yourself as less than others, or do you see others as inequal and you better than them?
- How good are you at giving and receiving compliments or praise for things well done?
- Do you ignore external or internal prompts to improve yourself? Do the same people say similar things about you that you refuse to accept?
- Why? What do you fear the most about accepting these dark things about yourself? This doesn’t mean the people who say these things are true. After all, your dark traits are not all you are, so although you may not like them. Be honest and objectively look at the negative things others have said. Is there any truth in them? This can be hard to do, like many shadow work questions. This one can really hit raw nerves and sting emotionally. But keep on practising and researching techniques,
- Do you take advantage of others or allow others to manipulate you? Why?
- How can you be more accepting and patient with yourself?
I will update this post periodically. Still, these questions are a good start for your shadow work process
The on going battle of the subconscious a spiritual explanation
Esoterically, the importance of honouring all parts of the mind, the heart, and the Soul is stressed; why?
Because the shadow parts of yourself that you do now acknowledge will become your enemy, they will often stop you from moving forward, keeping you in unhappy and non-productive patterns and relationships.
There’s a saying in the spiritual world: Anything that doesn’t belong or is not managed by us, brings trouble upon us.
The personal Shadow represents everything we’ve disowned in our lives.
The best way to get rid of a shadow is to become conscious of it and own it, before it owns you.
When we are doing something we don’t want to do, it seems as if our conscious self is going on autopilot, but it is the unconscious part of you controlling your actions.
Typically your facial expressions or body language reveal your real emotions even if you try to conceal them.
So it is essential that you are aware of this and choose to be truthful, which can be tricky as people dislike truth as it often hurts. Yet, it only hurts because we are typically programmed to value lies or falseness over honesty and integrity.
In my opinion, only one indicator will determine how successful you are in achieving your goals and reaching your highest potential.
To become successful at reaching your aims consistently, you must solve your greatest difficulty, which is the problem of your mind – your unconscious/ subconscious mind.
We’re only as strong as we are honest, and a part of us that we disown within ourselves will always turn against us.
The personal Shadow contains a collection of all those parts of your identity you’ve decided to reject or ignore.
The Shadow has the power to operate on its own and doesn’t need your full attention.
It’s as if our conscious self goes on autopilot while the unconscious assumes control.
We do things we wouldn’t voluntarily do and later regret.
We can’t help but smile when someone does something unexpectedly sweet or frown when they do something vulgar to us.
Our facial expressions say more than we might consciously realise.
Our lack of awareness about our Shadow affects our relationships with our spouses, family, and friends. It will also negatively impact our professional relationships and leadership abilities.
To successfully manage your Shadow and improve your relationship with yourself and others, you must accept these 3 truths.
1: The unconscious parts of ourselves are the hidden forces that shape our lives.
2: These unconscious forces are so powerful because they live in the unconscious part of our minds.
3 No matter your status or background, your personal and professional life is controlled by the unconscious mind, unless you take action to manage it.
And if you’re reading this article, you are probably aware of the power of your own Shadow.
It’s what’s behind your own dark side, that inner voice that says: I’m not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not funny enough.
You’re not sexy or handsome enough. You’re not strong enough. You’re not a sufficient leader.
You’re not good enough to live the life you want or lead; you’re a follower. You’re not good enough for me.
So what are you supposed to do? How do you get rid of this voice that tells you you’re not good enough? It’s simple.
You must learn to recognise your Shadow. Here are the characteristics of the Shadow: It’s a part of you that’s completely hidden from your conscious awareness.
It’s the part of you that’s completely separate from your conscious awareness.
It has its own life and will. It has its own language. It has its own goals. It can’t be influenced by logic or reason. It has its own agenda.
It doesn’t care about your feelings. It knows no limits. It’s a part of you that exists independently of you.
It’s like an alien force within you. It can’t be reasoned with. It can’t be reasoned away.
It can’t be controlled easily; you must engage your willpower and keep trying until you have mastered it and all parts of yourself are learning to manage them.
It’s like a demon within you. It’s like a ghost within you.
It’s like an inner monster within you. It can’t be talked out of existence. It’s like a separate personality within you. It’s like an evil twin within you.
However, shadow work can help you understand and tame this “dark twin”.
If you’re prepared to see it as a part of who you are and stop fighting it, this is not to say to let hell loose and rage at everyone, but to learn to let out your Shadow in safe ways.
Six strategies that help you effectively carry out shadow work
1: mediation: I mentioned earlier that mediation, or a stillness practice where you allow yourself to observe your thoughts and quieten them, is important in shadow work.
A good meditation takes patience, dedication and perseverance; you don’t have to be perfect, remembering all humans are flawed.
But you do have to be willing and committed to integrating all parts of yourself. So you can feel whole.
When meditating or self-reflecting, become aware / pay attention to the triggers that cause emotional reactions.
You can step back and observe what’s happening in a meditative state of mind. This won’t happen immediately, but you will eventually be able to.
Observe without being judgemental, again; this may take time to get good at, be gentle with yourself. When emotions come up, allow yourself to have them, I feel, asking yourself how you think about the feelings and thoughts that come into your conscious awareness.
Such as ………I feel scared when I think about that experience. I feel sad when I think about that experience. I feel happy when I think about that experience.
In this practice, you’ll learn that what you give power to has power over you.
The more you give power to other people or things in your life, the more they will control your life and happiness.
By practising self-reflection and control, you will learn how to choose what you give your power to and when to say no.
My personal Shadow is that I can be a control freak and hate being vulnerable.
And as I type this, my Shadow is saying, how dare you put me on blast on the internet, but we must learn to become the master of our Shadow and not let it run wild.
Sometimes we cannot stop our shadow thoughts or behaviours, yet we can become aware of them.
In this awareness, we can understand and direct them, or we are doomed to repeat our past and call it fate as Jung says.
We all have this side of us that wants you to fail as it believes you are unworthy and deserve not to reach your full potential.
It is crucial that you try to and that you don’t allow your rabid thoughts to dictate your whole life.
Self-awareness is the key because you can’t move forward unless you know what you’re doing, thinking, feeling and saying.
2: journaling/ voice record or vlog your thoughts, experiences and feelings.:
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you make sense of things in your life and improve
There’s a lot you can say in written form; who knows? You could even turn the whole process of your shadow work into a book or other content.
Writing down your thoughts in a journal or voice noting them or even video recording yourself talking about them are potent ways to improve self-awareness.
Journaling can make you aware of your strengths, weaknesses and fears so you can make plans to understand and manage them.
You must train yourself to be open to new experiences, ideas and people.
Having the guts and motivation to observe everything that makes you feel vulnerable.
When you are feeling vulnerable, ask yourself what it is that is making you feel that way.
For example, suppose you want to be a successful writer. In that case, you have to be interested in the things that bother and upset you, which are your obsessions.
You can use your journal to write about what interests you, so we see not all shadow traits are bad.
It’s what we do with them that counts, and if they stop us from reaching your goals, this is when they become highly problematic.
Conversely, you could try an activity that makes you anxious, like a high ropes course or climbing a rock face. You could try a therapy called exposure therapy.
Now it doesn’t have to be as drastic as dangling from an edge of a cliff; you may fear burgers, but eating a burger will help you reduce this fear.
The point I am trying to make here is you must face your fears, even if it’s just speaking your mind to someone you always avoid telling your truth to.
Or it could also be something more intense, like a fear of heights or spiders; exposure therapy should only be carried out if you’re in the right frame of mind.
If you are under any physical or psychological care, seek advice first, and it may be best to use someone expert in this practice. Still, you could do it alone or with the help of someone(s) you can trust.
Don’t rush the process!!! I drive this point home as many treat shadow work as some sort of competition or badge of honour.
It is not shadow work is a tool of personal liberation.
Whatever angers, shocks, afflicts, annoys, offends, or frightens you, you must pay attention to, in fact, pay attention to anything or anyone that evokes strong emotion in you.
Observe the times you give your power away, simply doing anything you consciously don’t want to do.
Make it a daily practice to sit down and write in your journal.
Don’t censor yourself. Write whatever comes up without overthinking it.
At first, what comes up may feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to lean into it if you want your shadow self to feel heard.
Some thoughts may come up, “I feel like I’m always hiding who I am” and” I feel like I’m not good enough”.
There’s a lot of pressure to fit into a specific mould and be perfect, and it can be challenging to feel comfortable in your own skin.
Nevertheless, the process of shadow work will allow you to do this over time.
3: open an internal monologue: allow yourself to have an open conversation with yourself
Write about what the dark elements of your nature are.
They might include fears, habits, addictions or anything else. Writing about these elements helps you understand them better.
Once you do this, you can start to heal and bring balance to these elements in your life.
You can learn a lot about your Shadow by talking to it.
Ask it a question and wait for an answer from it; it will feel very odd and even a bit crazy at first, but suspend all disbelief and allow your mind to be opened. Write down all it says without judgement.
Inner Conversations with Your Shadow “Who am I? What am I? Where am I going?”
These are just a few of the questions you can ask your Shadow. Once you have an answer, you can create a vision board that shows where you want to go in life.
You might also want to include a picture of your future self. You can get ideas for the images of your ideal life. What would you be doing?
Acknowledging and getting to know your shadow traits can be very useful.
It will give you information about your subconscious mind and help you become more aware of yourself.
It will teach you about yourself and help you create a better life.
Now you can write imaginary stories involving your shadow parts, using different characters.
Now bare with me; this process alone can help you unlock your hidden talents, needs and desires.
What I love about writing is that it can be as simple or as complex as you like. It can be a journal entry or a short story.
A poem can be your outlet for how you feel at that moment. Whatever form you take, writing about your shadow elements can help you to understand and embrace who you are.
I’ve always found that writing can be helpful with this sort of thing. When I first started writing fiction, I wrote a series of stories where one of the characters was obsessive-compulsive.
The character is obsessive because he is afraid of the dark. He couldn’t sleep without checking the door and the windows, but also because he was scared of the dark.
In my fiction, his obsession with the dark is what keeps him awake at night.
But as I was writing these stories, I realised that my obsession with the dark was also keeping me awake at night.
This is the power of shadow journaling; it can help you uncover powerful insights about yourself.
4: start a creative project:
Shadow work is all about allowing your unique brand of creativity to flow.
Creating is very rewarding, but it can also create irritation, impatience, egotistical reactions, uncertainty and indecision
Nevertheless, starting a project can bring a sense of completion- feeling whole and at one with all aspects of yourself.
The end goal of Shadow work is to bring more happiness, self-love, understanding, nurturing, forgiveness and compassion into your life, helping you feel more fulfilled.
Instead of spending your time endlessly scrolling, Netflix and chilling or any other distractive behaviours you do to avoid yourself, I am not saying give up the things you enjoy entirely. You just need to find balance.
Still, if you distract yourself all the time, half-heartedly or never working on your goals, how can they ever become a reality?
Find a personal project that you’d love to start doing, such as learning a new language.
Learning to skate, rollerblade or anything else from your childhood you used to love and wish you could do.
Building something, making online videos, creating music, taking an online course, or learning anything else you’re interested in mastering a new skill.
For example, if you want to learn how to play the guitar, you could try to teach yourself in your spare time. Or, you could try writing a book about your life story.
Just like in the previous exercise of shadow journaling, starting a creative project can be very rewarding
One person had to say this about his shadow work and his experience unleashing his creativity.
“writing about a time, I remember, which was my father taking me to the zoo as a kid. I wanted to touch a lion, but he ensured I didn’t and shouted at me.
On reflection and after drawing images of the experience, I realised my father was teaching me that you can’t just go up and touch something you want; it has to be done in a way that is safe and appropriate for all parties involved.
In other words, you have to have respect”. And we can apply that to our lives as well.”
I am a mother of one who likes to create things, and I have always had a creative side that has manifested itself in a variety of ways.
But most recently, I have been trying to figure out how to use my creativity to help others.
I started a blog dedicated to helping people build confidence in their skills. I have found that it is enriching and fulfilling.
What is it you want to start?
5: create some art:
Art is a great way to allow your Shadow to manifest. Allow yourself to feel any dark emotions.
You don’t need to be a Picasso to benefit from this artistic expression. Whatever you create doesn’t have to look good to anyone else but you.
You don’t need to plan, be impulsive, and use your imagination.
Painting, sculpturing, knitting, drawing or graphic design or any other form of artistic expression, who knows you, may develop a new technique.
Creative Shadow. You can get professional help, such as seeing an art therapist. The next step is to write down your thoughts and feelings about the subject matter- what you created.
Do not censor yourself. This is your opportunity to explore your inner life through art.
Next, you can either use a photo of yourself, or someone else or draw/paint them in the same way.
Do this exercise regularly, perhaps daily or work towards whatever piece you’re working on consistently.
The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with your Shadow self, and your Shadow will be able to manifest itself through you.
In closing, I would like to add that I am not saying that art therapy should replace traditional therapies.
Rather, it is a complementary treatment that can help us to address many issues that are not quickly addressed through traditional therapies.
6. Using Jungian archetypes to help you work through the different aspects of your Shadow:
As I said earlier in this guide Jungian shadow archetype is a concept in Jungian psychology that refers to an unconscious part of the self that represents the opposite of the person’s conscious self.
The unresolved and unmanaged Shadow is often seen as an opposing force that can prevent individuals from achieving their fullest potential.
Below are the archetypes and an explanation of each of the main shadow archetypes to help your exploration
The vixen Jungian archetype: The vixen archetype embodies the qualities of wildness, independence, and sexuality. They are often seen as cunning and manipulative and can be very difficult to understand.
They are often associated with the moon and the goddess Artemis and are seen as a symbol of the power of nature.
The tyrant/ dictator archetype: The tyrant archetype is a powerful and threatening figure who intimidates others with their power.
They are often ruthless and violent and can be very dangerous to anyone who crosses their path. They can be extremely domineering and stubborn and may enjoy imposing their will on others.
The Grandstander Bully Jungian archetype: The grandstander bully archetype seeks to be the Centre of attention, dominate others, and have others bend to his will.
The bully uses a variety of tactics to achieve his goals. He may make others laugh at him or make them feel uncomfortable with his comments. He may also be charming or witty in order to win others over.
The sorceress/ dark magician archetype: The siren Jungian archetype is often associated with the lure of the sea and temptation.
She is often seen as dangerous, capable of pulling people in with her beautiful voice and seductive nature. She can be a powerful force capable of leading people to their doom.
The dark magician Jungian archetype is a person of contradictions and paradoxes, a man with an ineradicable sense of their own mortality. He is a person of many moods, and he could be charming one minute and brutal the next, but always fascinating, always a compelling person.
The wicked witch Jungian archetype: The archetype of the wicked witch is a powerful and dangerous figure that can be very unpredictable.
They are often associated with evil and can be very destructive. They usually have a strong desire for power and is able to use their powers to harm others.
The dark Sorcerer/ magician archetype: The Sorcerer archetype is usually associated with negative traits such as being manipulative and controlling.
They are often considered wicked and dangerous and feared by those around them because they can be destructive, violent, and often criminal. Using their occult knowledge or debased sex magic to lure others off their path.
The victim archetype: The victim archetype is a negative stereotype of a person who is passive, powerless, and always in need of someone else’s help.
The addict Jungian archetype: The addict Jungian archetype is a person who is addicted to a substance or behaviour, often to the point of causing harm to themselves or others.
The negative trait of an addict is someone who compulsively uses drugs, alcohol or anything else toxic to them to escape from reality.
They become addicted to the feeling of being in control and lose sight of what is really important in their lives. This can lead to problems in their personal and professional life.
The shadow lover Jungian archetype: The shadow lover archetype is the archetype of the dark, brooding, and mysterious lover. This archetype can represent a dangerous or sinister partner who is difficult to resist.
They may be mysterious, elusive, and difficult to understand, but they also possess a deep and intense love that cannot be denied.
The hag archetype: The hag archetype represents the archetype of the witch, crone, or old woman who is malicious, spiteful, and often ugly. She is often associated with death, decay, and misfortune.
The shadow father and mother archetypes: The shadow father Jungian archetype definition The shadow father archetype is a Jungian archetype representing the part of the personality that is dark, destructive, and potentially harmful. It is often associated with Anger, resentment, and a need for revenge.
The shadow mother archetype is a Jungian archetype that represents the unconscious aspects of a person’s personality
She is often described as a dark, mysterious figure who can be a source of fear and anxiety for the individual. The shadow mother is often associated with the fear of abandonment and the need for protection.
The trickster Jungian archetype definition: The trickster archetype is a character archetype found in many cultures and mythology. Who is characterised as being playful and adept at trickery and mischief. They can be helpful and helpful but irritating, or destructive and destructive but also helpful.
The destroyer Jungian archetype definition:
The destroyer is an archetypal character that embodies a person’s destructive, death-wishing, and selfish side. This archetype is found in every culture and is also present in all human beings. The side of you that wants to have its pleasure or pain at all cost, even if they pay with their life.
The dark hermit Jungian archetype: The Jungian archetype is a term used in analytical psychology to describe a type of personality that is characterised by a strong need for independence and a tendency towards introversion.
These individuals are often drawn to solitary pursuits and may struggle to form lasting relationships.
The hermit archetype can be a highly negative one, representing a withdrawal from the world. This can include a desire to live in isolation and to avoid contact with others or a feeling of being cut off from the world.
This can be a result of personal issues such as loneliness or a lack of self-confidence, or it can be due to being trapped in a limited or difficult lifestyle.
The slave archetype: The slave archetype negative definition is a person who is completely controlled and dominated by another person or group of people. They may have no freedom at all and may be treated very poorly. Or they may intentionally give their power away in rare cases because they fear using their own authority.
The anti-hero archetype: The anti-hero archetype is a type of character who is usually considered to be a negative role model.
The anti-hero is usually defined as someone who does not follow society’s traditional moral codes or does not act how others expect them to.
They can also be highly deluded, indifferent and incompetent because they refuse to change and are usually stuck in a confusing pattern of thought and acting.
The overbearing caregiver Jungian archetype: The negative Jungian archetype is the dark side of the caregiver archetype.
This archetype can represent the negative aspects of being overly supportive, overly protective, and overly controlling. This archetype can lead to a person becoming overbearing, authoritarian, and insensitive to the needs of others.
The rebel Jungian archetype: The rebel archetype is a negative archetype that represents individuals who are unwilling to conform to society’s expectations.
They are often rebellious and unruly and may refuse to follow traditional rules or norms. They may also be a cultural disruptors, challenging traditional values and beliefs.
The endless explorer Jungian archetype: The explorer archetype is often associated with a sense of wanderlust and a desire to explore the world.
People who identify with this archetype are often restless and always looking for new experiences. They may be impulsive, reckless, and often drawn to dangerous or risky situations.
The doubtful creator Jungian archetype: a person who is pessimistic, cynical, and distrustful of others. They may be unfulfilled, have little confidence in their creative abilities, be unkind and selfish, and be a danger to others.
The deranged sage Jungian archetype: In Jungian psychology, the dark side of the psyche, which includes all negative emotions and impulses, including fear, Anger, and hatred rejecting their inner guidance and external wisdom or misusing knowledge to mislead themselves and others.
As you can see, shadow work is a process, and it has many techniques and rewards, the benefits listed are just a few of them.
Some of the positives and negatives of shadow work:
- Increased problem-solving skills.
- Increased empathy.
- Increased ability to be creative.
- Increased ability to see the big picture.
- Increased ability to adapt to change.
- Increased awareness of other people’s needs.
- Increased awareness of self.
- Increased ability to take the initiative.
- Increased ability to make decisions.
- Improved ability to solve problems.
- Increased ability to manage time and prioritise effectively.
- Improved ability to work in teams.
- Increased ability to collaborate with others.
- Improved ability to work under pressure.
Some of the negatives of shadow work:
- Finding the time to do shadow work can be challenging.
- Finding the right balance between shadow work and other activities can be difficult.
- Finding the right people to do shadow work with can be difficult.
- Facing your Shadow when you’re not ready can lead to more self-rejection, fear and destruction.
Why shadow work is important over your life span.
Why humility is important in healing work