The ‘shadow’ is the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you don’t want to admit to having.
It is often an unconscious side. It is only through our personal efforts to become self-aware that we can begin to recognise our shadow.
Although many believe the shadow is ‘negative’, this is not really true. The Shadow is what you yourself perceive as dark and weak in yourself, and therefore needing to be hidden and denied. But this depends on your own perspective on life, and your levels of self awareness and self value.
For some their shadow might just contain such classic elements as sadness, rage, laziness, and cruelty, but you might also hide your personal power, your independence, or your emotional sensitivity.
Everyone has a shadow side no matter how nice someone may seem, they have a shadow side like anyone else.
You also cannot ‘get rid of’ or ‘heal’ your shadow. It’s an essential and useful part of you. However it can shift and change depending on the work you do on yourself.
When you start to feel your shadow side step up, don’t judge, don’t think yourself bad or awful for having those thoughts. They are just thoughts.
Everyone at some point has an innermost dark side. Rage that feels intense. Wildly inappropriate sexual fantasies starring best friends’ husbands, priests or the gender they do not usually partner with. Wishes for revenge. Bitterness. Jealousy of our dearest friends. Desires to disappear and escape from our families. This is normal! These are thoughts, not actions.
The shadow is usually one of the first things we face when we start attending therapy. The creation of a safe space where we can talk to someone who isn’t personally invested in our life means we find ourselves saying things we didn’t even know we were thinking and felt.
Ways you can face your shadow.
It’s important when doing shadow work, to recognise and understand your shadow side, that you do not over-identify with it. If you are going through a period of low self-esteem or depression, for example, it’s not the time to indulge in shadow work because you are not in the headspace to recognise your strengths, too. This is why it can be wise to do shadow work with proper support in place.
Why do we want to do the shadow work?
Shadow work can sound scary, and some parts of it may be rather uncomfortable, but it is necessary work to uncover true joy and peace in life.
When working with the shadow, you may have moments of awakening that lead to greater authenticity, creativity, and emotional freedom.
Other benefits include:
As mentioned above Writing, or journaling, is one of the best tools to start with when engaging in shadow work. This is a way to record all of your thoughts and feelings so that you begin to become aware of your unconscious self. You will begin to see if there is a recurrent emotional or behavioural pattern in your life.
One of the most important things to remember when engaging with shadow work is to be compassionate with yourself. Not all of the answers may come right away, so wherever you are at in the process, allow yourself to accept all parts of yourself, shadow and light alike.
Once we start to bring our shadow side to the light our lives will change, we may see the patterns of that laziness as fear that we can overcome, the sadness may be hiding a trauma we haven’t dealt with from the past. Our emotional sensitivity may be what turns into our calling as we allow ourselves to actually feel our emotions and work through them.
The shadow will often hold us back from our independence or finding our personal power, from being our truest most authentic selves.
This Week’s Creative Exercise
Uncovering our Shadow Side
This is a writing Exercise
Create a safe space for yourself
Bring the subconscious to the surface
Sort through what you uncovered
Processing your shadows
This process will uncover a spectrum of emotions. Allow yourself time to cry, to judge, to feel into these discoveries.
Write down any positive aspects of your shadow traits. Start with the strongest ones you rated at the top of your list. Take your time.
TIP: Write down the positive aspects of your shadow traits as though you are talking to a friend. We tend to be less judgemental of others.
“I am shaking.” – It’s a sign that you are identifying and processing trauma and shadows.
“I am flawed/broken” – You are stronger as a result. You can continue to overcome.
“I am anxious” – This is a good sign of “what to work on” and a signal to return to the present.
This is the beginning of change, when we identify and have clarity about who we really are we can start to dig into why we are that way and what is holding us back.
Have Compassion for yourself
Just as you feel compassion for a child's learning, or empathize with someone else’s pain because you’ve been there – empathize with the “in process” version of you. Bring love, understanding and compassion to your shadow traits.
Remember you are not your shadow, they are traits that you have power over.
When you learn to love all of yourself you gain great power and freedom.
Have an Amazingly Creative Day,