How To Own Your Shadow Before It Owns You: 7 Helpful Exercises

own your shadow

If you do not have close friends/confidantes such as these in your life, I can’t recommend doing some form of talk based therapy (with a highly skilled coach or therapist that you have a good rapport with) highly enough. Obviously I’m super biased because I, personally, have benefitted from this practice so much. I have spent good chunks of the last 15 years, on and off, in benefitting from having a coach or therapist on speed dial… and the value that I have derived form this practice is literally immeasurable.

If you want to come to know your shadow that much more deeply, I can’t recommend therapy highly enough. Especially if your therapist is actually someone who has walked the walk of looking deeply into their own mind and integrated their own shadow. You will know that they have done this work if they do not shy away from going into deeper themes in your sessions.

Conversely, if they try to steer you away from talking about your sadness, grief, anger, hatred, envy, etc. during your early sessions, run. Run far away and never return. They’re a hack and deserve none of your time or money and you deserve someone who can actually hold space for the fullness of who you are.

6. Engage in group work

Similar to the last section, but featuring even more mirrors to reflect your stuff back to you.

In a 1-on-1 therapeutic relationship, you allow one person to get to know you deeply and see all of your peculiarities. In group work (whether you’re in a men’s group/women’s group/shadow work group/encounter group, etc.), you multiply the number of mirrors who can either witness you deeply, or trigger your stuff to come to the surface. The trade off often being that the average skill level of people in group work will drop (compared to working 1-on-1 with a highly skilled coach or therapist). But don’t let this deter you. If doing therapeutic shadow work in a group appeals to you, do it. And if the idea of doing shadow work in a group scares the shit out of you, all the more reason to do it.

All of this with the caveat of you want to make sure that you aren’t engaging in the work just to leech from the community’s energy. Don’t just go to make friends. If you’re going to show up, show up all the way. Be radically honest. Let people see you as you are, and you will reap the rewards of the process.

7. Be in an intimate relationship

Ahhhhhhh intimate relationships, nature’s therapy.

If you think that you have zero blocks to intimacy that being loved deeply doesn’t bring up any sense of un-ease or unworthiness for you and you never judge anyone, ever, I would tell you that you’re either 1) a phenomenal bullshitter, or 2) you’re single and you haven’t been in a relationship for a really long time and you’ve forgotten what your psychological baggage sounds like when love triggers it to the surface.

When we allow a deep, nourishing love relationship to enter into our lives, it is entirely common for the junkyard dog of our ego to get ready to pounce on any impending love intruder who dares to try to love us exactly as we are.

When love is offered to us, everything that is unlike love bubbles up to the surface in order to be cleared out.

As always, observational awareness and self-compassion is key.

Notice the things that bubble up for you don’t judge or condemn those parts and do the work of integration (name it, own it, embody it) to let it go.

Read 8 Profound Lessons Intimate Relationships Teach Us

Sentence Prompts To Help You Integrate Your Shadow

So, how does one integrate their shadow?

The short answer of healing and integrating our shadow is this: become aware of the parts of yourself that you are rejecting, and bring those things forwards into your life in a healthy and responsible way.

If you’re currently at a loss for what shadow themes are lurking behind closed doors in your psyche, allow these prompts to poke and prod a little deeper.

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