“Shadow work is the path of the heart warrior.” Carl Jung
Shadow work may seem a bit daunting at first but it’s quite simple really. It’s about seeking what is controlling your life from the unconscious, making it conscious so that you understand and integrate those hidden parts of you.
It is important to understand that not only are your so-called negative traits hidden in the shadow but also your positive traits and by integrating those traits into our conscious mind we can have more control over our lives instead of feeling that something unknown is taking us in a direction that we don’t really want to go in.
Shadow work is very important for Empaths as, with many of us, we felt the need to bury our gifts as children because they made others around us feel uncomfortable.
Imagine as a child you voiced your knowing that someone was lying, and as a result of that, you were chastised by your parents, with them saying that you were being rude, so you made the decision to never mention that again.
Or as a child, you loved to be alone in nature, but you saw that your mother was disappointed in you that you weren’t out playing with your friends, the socially expected behavior. Both of these are Empath traits, so you chose to repress them so that you would not lose your parents love. That is how we begin to form our Shadow.
‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’
Suppressing our so-called negative emotions really doesn’t help us, this actually has a name which is ‘Spiritual Bypassing’. This is when we deem emotions such as anger, rage, jealousy, sadness, disgust as negative, unenlightened, shameful, of low vibration or something to ‘run away’ from or ‘cleanse’ out of the self.
With the situation around ‘New Age’ thinking these days, you will need to be aware that the push with ‘positive thinking’ is not necessarily helpful towards your spiritual growth. By forcing yourself to think positively all the time, we are actually repressing our Shadow self even further.
You will know that you are repressing your Shadow when you experience feeling confused about who you are and what you want, feeling disassociated, disconnected or numb. Other signs are being destructive when in the grip of an emotion, and having unfulfilling relationships.
Ashley Turner explains,
“In the spiritual and yoga communities, the emphasis is often on positivity. Sometimes called spiritual bypassing – this is the tendency to overlook or minimize our very real human flaws. We are encouraged to ‘meditate our way out of’ difficult emotions or habits. The focus is on getting better, being happier, moving up and out of our current circumstances toward enlightenment, miracles or bliss.”
Some of the techniques that you may be using now that you may be used to spiritually bypass and repressing shadow work are:
“It’s not that bad. Look on the bright side”, “I am so strong – this can’t affect me!”.
“Let all thoughts and emotions go, you are pure awareness, where there is no pain, no personality”.
“Your vibration creates your experiences. Stay high-vibe at all times”, “You called in all your experiences to you”.
When used to create spiritual bypassing, these techniques can leave you feeling shame and/or guilt and that there is something wrong with you because it doesn’t help you to achieve a life of freedom and compassion.
“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” ― C.G. Jung
Benefits of Shadow Work
When you work with integrating your Shadow, there will be moments of awakening that will lead you to become more authentic, creative and will give you more emotional freedom.
Other benefits of Shadow Work include better communication and relationships because you will be coming from your authentic self and you will be acting from a space of compassion. Also, it will improve your ability to set healthy boundaries and give you an enhanced state of wellbeing.
Another benefit of Shadow Work is the achievement of psychological maturity. Most of us exist in a state of mental and emotional immaturity with parts of us split-off and disowned and experiencing destructive behavior when triggered because it is actually our Shadow that is in control. When we make conscious and integrate these unrealized parts of ourselves we can then experience wholeness, stability, and balance.