Doing Your Shadow Work

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What parts of you are you MOST ASHAMED of?

Hard question to answer honestly, I know. But this is the very beginning of doing SHADOW WORK. Shadow work is meeting the parts of you that are the scariest to confront. The goal of shadow work is integrate all parts of you — to create a holistic acceptance of who you are. The REAL challenge of this work shows up when we realize that this involves accepting the parts that we LEAST want to own…

Our repressed anger.

Our boiling resentment.

Our cutting judgement of others.

Our dark wishes to hurt or harm.

Our deeply embedded shame.

Our hidden sexuality.

These are our shadow selves. What we define as our dark, dirty, inferior, and disowned parts — parts we’ve stuffed so back into our subconscious that it’s easy to live life as if they aren’t there.

But they are.

And as long as they go ignored, they are playing an unconscious part in your life, who you are, and how you show up in relationships. Whatever you deny in yourself, you’ll deny in others — meaning big-time PROJECTION that might deeply harm your ability to connect with others, and finding yourself always blaming others and the world for your suffering. Projection is when we unconsciously transfer our own desires or emotions or self-hatred to another person. So, when the shadow self is working unconsciously, it is infiltrating our relationships, making us have negative emotional reactions to people who either have a similar shadow side, or who have learned to work with it. It’s almost like we’re recognizing our own inability to manage our shadow and we feel frustrated by another person’s progress with it. This is all a subconscious process, and usually just shows up looking like an exaggerated emotional reaction that doesn’t fit the circumstances (e.g. angry outbursts, isolation, pushing people away, etc.)

Learning to meet these parts — through tough, but liberating emotional work — is essential if we want to FULLY embrace all that we are, heal our relationships, and move forward without our subconscious, shadowy baggage bleeding into our behavior. We must acknowledge and ultimately welcome in all of it — the good, the bad, the angel, and the demon.

Below, I’ve listed some questions from the book “The Dark Side of Light Chasers” which will help start your own personal shadow work:

  1. What am I most afraid of?

  2. What aspects of my life need transforming?

  3. What am I most afraid of that someone else will find out about me?

  4. What am I most afraid of in finding out about myself?

  5. What’s the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself?

  6. What’s the biggest lie I’ve ever told someone else?

  7. What could stop me from doing the work necessary to transform my life?

Try a short, grounding breathing exercise (like ten deep belly breaths, exhaling through your nose) first, and then carefully read each question, giving yourself a minute to ponder your response and taking your time. Then, you can journal your answers, and start to build self-awareness around who your shadow parts are, and what they are connected to. I also highly recommend picking up the entire book to continue the work, either on your own, or in tandem with a therapist.

By bringing your shadow to the light, we learn to embrace ourselves fully, to let go of shame, embarrassment, or doubt, and to completely accept ALL our parts, so that they may work as an empowered collective, rather than shattered pieces.

Happy shadow hunting, friends.