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 Own 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.
2. Notice the people and things that piss you off the most
If something triggers you, it’s because that thing is a part of you and you are not in right relationship with it.
Do lazy people make you red with rage? Look at the ways in which you can be lazy.
Do racist or homophobic people send you into a blind rage? Think about the ways that can you be intolerant or dismissive of others.
Do highly expressive creative types infuriate you? What things are in you that you wish you could be expressing and sharing with the world?
These emotional triggers could show up in your life as people, ideas, objects, or any other source. The point is to notice these triggers as they are occurring, ask yourself, ‘How am I like that?’, or ‘What is this response showing me about myself?’, and then integrate the lesson.