Have you ever heard someone say, what you hate most about others is what you hate about yourself?” Well, this is where your shadow work begins.
What is the Shadow?
Shadow work was an idea asserted by Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. He said, “the shadow is the side of ourselves that we don’t show to the world, or even ourselves.” Most of us aren’t aware that we have a shadow because we hid it long ago. The shadow is a behavior that long ago was scorned or undervalued that we hid away as a coping mechanism. We make rules of right or wrong to keep our shadows locked away. This includes feelings and behaviors that are not in alignment with societal views such as loneliness, vulnerability, fear and self-doubt, messing up, sadness, or grief.
If these behaviors or emotions are not in alignment with who we think we are or should be we deem them unacceptable. Our shadows were created by our childhood selves who didn’t have the proper coping mechanisms to deal with life’s obstacles. And as adults, they keep us in unhealthy patterns.
Ignoring our Shadow
When we ignore our shadow side, emotional triggers unleash reactions that may surprise us, leaving us feeling self-shame and guilt. Carl Jung said, “everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” Without our awareness, it enters through the subconscious, acting out in various ways, harming our relationships, interfering with our deepest desires, and inhibiting our personal growth. This is how someone’s repressed creative passion can torpedo into a destructive rage, or a person’s beautiful ambition can evolve into crippling perfectionism.
Unknowingly, the shadow can be your greatest attribute. After I began working to embody my shadow I found my vulnerability. As I slowly allowed vulnerability, my childhood creativity returned. I became more playful and courageous in stepping out of my comfort zone. Although shadow work may feel uncomfortable or even terrifying, it liberates and inspires the wild feminine heart.
What is Shadow Work?
When we fully accept others we fully accept ourselves, and vice versa. There’s more room for error and messing up; there’s more room for the feminine.
It is in the darkness that we find our true light and reemerge stronger, more beautiful, and wiser.
Shadow work makes us confront our fears and flaws, helping us to become more grounded and whole. Because we learn to integrate all of our authentic parts, we become more accepting and whole. We grow and evolve.
Here are a few things that may encourage you to step into shadow work on your growth journey.
5 Benefits of Shadow Work
Shadow work helps us build healthy boundaries, which in turn allows us to respond rather than react. This makes us more compassionate towards ourselves and others. It also gives us permission to be our authentic selves, building more confidence in our relationships.
Doing shadow work builds trust in ourselves because of our renewed self-acceptance. The word trust in Latin means “with confidence.” When we have trust in ourselves, we have confidence in ourselves and our decisions.
Improves Your Communication
We stop being afraid of being wrong. Our willingness to be messy and vulnerable brings ease to the people around us, giving them permission to do the same.
Transforms the Inner Critic
Embracing the shadow means embracing the self. With an awareness of how we treat ourselves, we learn how to offer love in place of authoritative rules. We have permission to be authentic.
We Become More Creative
Creativity takes spontaneity, risk, trust, and playfulness. A willingness to mess up and make mistakes. When we are no longer afraid of going into the dark unknown, we become courageous enough to playfully discover. This is where creativity is born.
Doing Shadow Work with Support
Going into the darkness is not work to be done alone. We are meant to grow and evolve together in the community. So if you are feeling the call to look at yourself more deeply find a supportive group or a coach to work with and support you in this very important journey.