Benefits Of Being In Right Relationship With Your Shadow
The benefits of facing and integrating your shadow are innumerable, but here are a handful of what I believe to be some of the most exciting and rewarding ones.
1. Better intimate relationships
Our unintegrated shadow causes a lot of chaos in intimate relationships. Relationships, by nature, bring up our deepest wounding because we’re allowing someone to get so close to us. When we have come to know all parts of ourselves and accept them, it then becomes that much easier to get to know all parts of another and accept those things as well.
2. Increased creativity
Suppressing various parts of ourselves stifles creativity. Conversely, letting go of being at war with long-suffocated parts of ourselves frees up an incredible amount of energy. In fact, dozens of times over the last few years I have been on coaching calls with clients who described feelings of tangible energy surging through their bodies mere seconds after naming and owning a significant, and long-held shadow thought.
Naming and owning a shadow thought can feel akin to pulling the plug in a filled up bathtub. As soon as the block is removed, the water starts flowing again.
When you integrate more aspects of yourself, don’t be surprised to find that your creative energy will pour through you like never before (even if you hadn’t previously considered yourself a creative person).
3. More energy
Self-rejection is heavy and taxing. When you let go of the one-tonne bag of wrong-making you’ve been dragging behind you for decades, a lot of energy is freed up to be utilized in your life.
Every potent, powerful bad ass I know is in right relation with their shadow side. This process is a necessary precursor to being your most embodied, creatively expressed, full-spectrum self.
4. Greater feelings of connection with everyone you meet
As you come to know, love, and accept more parts of yourself, it then becomes that much easier to do the same, as your default, for others. Regardless of whether you interact with them or not, it will be that much easier for you to assume the best in others, and you will be more compassionate, understanding, and patient with others.
How To Face And Integrate Your Shadow: 7 Exercises
Serious work on the self (and, in particular, engaging in shadow work) is an ongoing process. There will always be more layers to be revealed. I have had clients who had major breakthroughs and realizations about themselves, or about their families of origin, well into their 60’s and 70’s.
That being said, if you are newer to shadow work, then you can move the needle a lot in a short amount of time, by giving a few of these simple exercises a genuine effort.
1. Track your most consistent judgments of other people
The aspects of our shadow that we are least in relationship with are the things we are the fastest to perceive and judge in others.
If you’ve heard of the concept of projection, this is what we’re talking about in this section. When you aren’t facing an aspect of yourself, you (much like a film projector) project that aspect of yourself on to others and see it on them. That aspect very well actually be a part of that person… but if you are quick to see something in others, over and over, then it is likely your psychological content that you are simply placing on to another.
Here’s a personal example.
For years, I was quick to either see someone as absolutely brilliant and super-intelligent (when in reality they weren’t very traditionally intelligent) or completely stupid. It was very black and white. In my eyes, you were either a genius or you were an idiot. I eventually came to realize that this pedestalization and/or judging of others was a symptom of me not facing and owning my own intelligence. Because I once thought that I was stupid in my childhood, I suppressed my relationship to my own intelligence and relegated it to my shadow.
Once I came to see, accept, and honour my own intelligence, the weight of this pattern dissipated rapidly. This propensity to judge others on their intelligence hasn’t left me entirely (I am still quick to grow impatient with people who I perceive to be less intelligent than me), but at least now this pattern doesn’t own me in the same way that it used to. I can see the humour in it, even while being in the middle of it.