What is Shadow Work?
The process of Shadow Work is the exploration of your inner darkness, or what is known as your “Shadow Self.”
We all have a dark side that we usually try to keep hidden. This is what we call the “Shadow Self.” It’s full of everything we’re ashamed of thinking and feeling, as well as all the impulses, desires, fears, and perversions that we’ve locked away consciously or unconsciously. Our shadows are the aspects of ourselves that we keep hidden from others because we are afraid of rejection, shame, or backlash.
The side of us that society chooses to ignore, that we refuse to acknowledge and that we deem as ugly is something that we all have. It’s what we keep hidden from others and sometimes even from ourselves. This is often done to keep yourself looking good in other people’s eyes.
It is common to feel this way, and there may be some truth to these feelings. In fact, some experts believe that it is possible to use this so-called “dark side” to gain a deeper understanding of the self and encourage personal growth. By delving into the hidden aspects of the self, shadow work allows for a greater understanding of the self. It is something that can be done with the help of a therapist or independently.
How is the shadow born?
The Shadow side is something that is created in childhood, and it is a combination of the ego developing naturally and of being conditioned or socialized. Socialization is the term for learning to act in a way that is seen as normal by the people around us.
From the moment we are born, we have the potential to grow and change in innumerable ways. As we age, we gradually learn more about the world around us and begin to form our own identities by adopting certain character traits and rejecting others.
The majority of our childhood is spent learning how to get love and acceptance because we believe that we will die without it. This is how we’re wired as humans. So we learn from these situations that we have to suppress certain behaviors and that we can’t be our true selves around others. We always change ourselves so we don’t get rejected.
Benefits of shadow work :
1-Improve your creativity:
The traits that your shadow hides are not just undesirable ones. There are also amazing parts of yourself that your shadow conceals, such as creativity.
By accepting your shadow, you are also accepting your creative side. Instead of suppressing the darker parts of yourself, you can learn to embrace them fully. This will allow you to tap into all of the unique expressions that your shadow conceals.
Having a clear understanding of others and yourself allows you to see the world more clearly.
By integrating your shadow self, you are getting closer to your authentic self, which allows for a more realistic assessment of who you are. You will be able to see others and comprehend situations with more insight, sympathy, and knowledge.
Accepting the darker aspects of your personality helps you to become more balanced, relatable, and complete. When you can see yourself more clearly, it is easier to accept the shadow in others.
As a result, you may find it easier to control your reactions to other people’s behavior and may also have an easier time communicating with them.
If you wish to rid yourself of the self-loathing that may come from repressing your shadow, you must first accept that side of yourself. This can be done through practicing self-awareness.
Accepting your shadow is a way of showing self-compassion for all aspects of yourself, no matter how positive or negative they may be. Working through your shadow is a process that requires time and effort. But it is possible to get to a place of acceptance.
5-Discover your hidden talents:
Many people may fear that their shadow is too full of darkness for them to ever hope to overcome it. But in most cases, this shadow is actually full of light, It never had the chance to thrive before.
Shadow work can help you to identify and understand the aspects of yourself that you have hidden away. This can allow you to step into everything you are capable of.
6-Improve your overall wellness:
By repressing your shadow, you open yourself up to a world of problems you may not even be aware of. Only by facing your shadow can you hope to move past these problems.
Sif you’re looking to improve your overall wellness, look no further than shadow work. By facing your shadow, you can take control of your wellness journey and address the root causes of issues like anxiety or unhealthy relationships.
7-Gain self-esteem and more confidence:
When you present the most honest version of yourself, you will find that there is no more hidden self-doubt about the aspects of yourself that you may dislike. This, in turn, will increase your confidence as you move forward to achieve your goals.
It is usually the case that the aspects of our personality we try to keep hidden are actually some of the most valuable parts. However, if they are weaknesses, it is better to bring them out into the light so that you can understand and manage them. The shadow is most troublesome when we are not conscious of it.
How to start shadow work ?
There are 8 Shadow Work techniques and exercises that you can try.
1-Review your childhood :
Reflect on the parts of yourself that may have been treated as bad or inferior during your childhood.
“What was my acceptance level as a child? How did I feel all the time? Which emotions would result in punishment? What was expected of me in terms of behavior and emotion?”
If you are judged for certain behaviors, it creates a shadow aspect within you that represses the emotions related to those behaviors. Once you find the answers to these questions, you’ll see the shadow aspects of yourself, even though we’re taught to think they’re bad and that we’re bad for having them.
2-Don’t shame the shadow:
If you become aware of your shadow self, don’t be ashamed or angry with it. Instead, show it compassion and love.
The shadow was birthed from a place of non-acceptance and rejection. It came to be the moment you started pushing it away. By continuing to be hostile toward the shadow, you’re only making the situation worse. The shadow is a part of you, so try to approach it from a place of love.
Dumping your brain into a journal can help process thoughts and feelings, which then leads to a better understanding of them. Furthermore, by taking the time to write these things down on a regular basis whether that be on paper or in a digital format like the notes app on your phone, we can gain a greater understanding of our emotions, actions, and past experiences, as well as see connections and patterns that we may have otherwise missed. Journaling is powerful for self-growth processes like shadow work because it is reflective.
4-Express your inner shadow artistically:
If journaling isn’t the way you prefer to express yourself, art can be a powerful outlet for your shadow self. Did you know that art therapy is an actual thing? It’s true! And it can be used to treat all sorts of mental health issues, including pre-verbal trauma.
Expressing all the emotions you feel, even if they are dark, is important when creating art. Pour them into the medium of your choice, be it painting, poetry, digital art, or anything else you want to try.
Follow your impulses and be spontaneous. Create what your inner self wants to create, regardless of how it may appear to others.
Related:How Hobbies Improve Your Life ?
5-Start an inner dialogue :
Your shadow can teach you a lot if you’re willing to have a conversation with it.
A process similar to meditation can be used to talk to your shadow. To do this, ask your shadow some questions and wait for a response.
It’s important to keep an open mind, even if it feels strange. Be mindful of the response and ensure that you’re hearing it without bias.
6-Use Your Triggers:
Triggers can be seen as messengers, inviting us to explore the depths of our unconscious minds. The events that cause extreme emotional reactions act as triggers, inviting us to explore the depths of our unconscious minds.
Being still and at peace with ourselves can have a lot of benefits. Meditation is an effective way to become more self-aware, and through consistent practice, we can learn to be more in tune with our thoughts, our deeds, and who we are as people.
8-Observe without judgment:
One of the worst things you can do when working with the shadow is to judge it. This only serves to reject it and make it stronger.
Seeing your shadow is an opportunity to observe and learn about yourself without judgment. Use this opportunity to understand yourself better and work on integrating that understanding into your life.