That damaged part of you that you hide from the world – it needs healing too! Learn how to heal yourself through Shadow Work. ❤
“We ALL carry demons inside. Shadow work is the attempt to uncover everything that we have disowned and rejected within our Shadow Selves. Our Shadow Self is our darker half, alter ego or “evil twin.”
All of us carry demons inside. Sometimes we catch fleeting glimpses of them, sometimes we witness them in full frontal chaos, but for the most part, we ignore and bury their existence either out of fear, guilt or pure shame. However, discovering and owning our demons is a vital part of our spiritual journey.
As authors and psychotherapist Steve Wolf noted:
Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality and be acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life.
In other words, the Shadow isn’t just the wounded part of us, but it is also the path towards a more authentic and fulfilling life. In order to repair, heal, and grow on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level, we need to practice Shadow Work.
Shadow Work is a practice that helps us to become whole again. It works on the premise that you must 100% OWN your Shadow, rather than avoiding or repressing it, to experience deep healing.
This daunting and often frightening task is a requirement of every person. But you don’t have to go at it alone.
In this long and detailed guide, I will offer you a helping hand. Having studied and worked with the Shadow for years, I’ll share with you some of the best tools, insights, and advice that I have gathered thus far.
Table of Contents
- Why Focusing Only on the Light is a Form of Escapism
- What is the Human Shadow?
- What is Shadow Work?
- Do We All Have a Shadow Self?
- How is Our Shadow Side Formed?
- What is the Golden Shadow?
- What Happens When You Reject Your Shadow?
- The Shadow and Projection (a Dangerous Mix)
- Seven Tips For Approaching Shadow Work
- How to Practice Shadow Work
1. Pay attention to your emotional reactions
2. Artistically Express Your Shadow Self
3. Start a Project
4. Write a Story or Keep a Shadow Journal
5. Explore Your Shadow Archetypes
6. Have an Inner Conversation
7. Use the Mirror Technique
- Shadow Self Test
- Own Your Shadow and You Will Own Your Life
Why Focusing Only on the Light is a Form of Escapism
For most of my life, I’ve grown up firmly believing that the only thing worthy of guiding me was “light” and “love.” Whether through the family environment I was raised in, or the cultural myths I was brought up clinging to, I once believed that all you really needed to do in life to be happy was to focus on everything beautiful, positive and spiritually “righteous.” I’m sure you were raised believing a similar story as well. It’s a sort of “Recipe for Well-Being.”
But a few years ago, after battling ongoing mental health issues, I realized something shocking:
I was wrong.
Not just wrong, but completely and utterly off the mark. Focusing only on “love and light” will not heal your wounds on a deep level. In fact, I’ve learned through a lot of heavy inner work, that not only is focusing solely on “holiness” in life one side of the equation, but it is actually a form of spiritually bypassing your deeper, darker problems that, let me assure you, almost definitely exist.
It is very easy and comfortable to focus only on the light side of life. So many people in today’s world follow this path. And while it might provide some temporary emotional support, it doesn’t reach to the depths of your being: it doesn’t transform you at a core level. Instead, it leaves you superficially hanging onto warm and fuzzy platitudes which sound nice, but don’t enact any real change.
What DOES touch the very depths of your being, however, is exploring your Shadow.
What is the Human Shadow?
In short, the human shadow is our dark side; our lost and forgotten disowned self. Your shadow is the place within you that contains all of your secrets, repressed feelings, primitive impulses, and parts deemed “unacceptable,” shameful, “sinful” or even “evil.” This dark place lurking within your unconscious mind also contains suppressed and rejected emotions such as rage, jealousy, hatred, greed, deceitfulness, and selfishness.
So where did the Shadow Self idea originate? The concept was originally coined and explored by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. In Jung’s own words:
Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.
When the human Shadow is shunned, it tends to undermine and sabotage our lives. Addictions, low self-esteem, mental illness, chronic illnesses, and various neuroses are all attributed to the Shadow Self. When our Shadows are suppressed or repressed in the unconscious long enough, they can even overtake our entire lives and causes psychosis or extreme forms of behavior like cheating on one’s partner or physically harming others. Intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs also have a tendency to unleash the Shadow.
Thankfully, there is a way to explore the Shadow and prevent it from devouring our existence, and that is called Shadow Work.