Shadow Work: How to Let Your Demons Guide You

Shadow Work: How to Let Your Demons Guide You

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.

Shadow Work: How to Let Your Demons Guide You

 

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 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.

 

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.

What is Shadow Work?

Shadow work is the process of exploring your inner darkness or “Shadow Self.” As mentioned previously, your Shadow Self is part of your unconscious mind and contains everything you feel ashamed of thinking and feeling, as well as every impulse, repressed idea, desire, fear and perversion that for one reason or another, you have “locked away” consciously or unconsciously. Often this is done as a way of keeping yourself tame, likable and “civilized” in the eyes of others.

Shadow work is the attempt to uncover everything that we have hidden and every part of us that has been disowned and rejected within our Shadow Selves. Why? Because without revealing to ourselves what we have hidden, we remain burdened with problems such as anger, guilt, shame, disgust, and grief.

All throughout the history of mankind Shadow Work has played a powerful yet mysterious and occult role in helping us discover what is causing us mental illness, physical dis-ease and even insanity resulting in crimes of all kinds.

Traditionally, Shadow Work fell in the realm of the Shamans, or medicine people, as well as the priests and priestesses of the archaic periods of history. These days, Shadow Work falls more commonly in the realms of psychotherapy, with psychologists, psychiatrists, spiritual guides, and therapists.

 

Do We All Have a Shadow Self?

Yes, we ALL have a Shadow Self. As uncomfortable as it may sound, there is a dark side within every human being. Why is this the case? The reason why all human beings have a shadow is due to the way we were raised as human beings, often referred to as our ‘conditioning.’ (We’ll explore how the Shadow is formed next.)

“But I’m a good person! I don’t have a ‘shadow’ side,” you might be thinking. Well, the reality is that yes, you might be a good person. In fact, you might be the most generous, loving, and selfless person in the entire world. You might feed the hungry, save puppies, and donate half of your salary to the poor. But that doesn’t exclude you from having a Shadow. There are no exceptions here. The nature of being human is to possess both a light and a dark side, and we need to embrace that.

Sometimes, when people hear that they have a Shadow side (or when it is pointed out), there is a lot of denials. We have been taught to perceive ourselves in a very two-dimensional and limited way. We have been taught that only criminals, murderers, and thieves have a Shadow side. This black and white thinking is one of the major causes of our suffering.

If the thought of having a Shadow side disturbs you, take a moment to consider whether you have developed an idealized self. Signs of an idealized self-include attitude such as:

“I’m not like those people, I’m better.”
“I have never strayed.”
“God is proud of me.”
“Criminals and wrongdoers aren’t human.”
“Everyone sees how good I am (even so, I have to remind them).”
“I’m a role model.”
“I should be validated and applauded for my good deeds.”
“I don’t have bad thoughts, so why do others?”

Such perceptions about oneself are unrealistic, unhealthy, and largely delusional. The only way to find inner peace, happiness, authentic love, self-fulfillment, and Illumination is to explore our Shadows.

 

How is Our Shadow Side Formed?

Your Shadow side is formed in childhood and is both (a) a product of natural ego development, and (b) a product of conditioning or socialization. Socialization is the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.

When we are born, we are are all full of potential, with the ability to survive and develop in a variety of ways. As time goes on, we learn more and more to become a certain type of person. Slowly, due to our circumstances and preferences, we begin to adopt certain character traits and reject others. For example, if we are born into a family that shows little interpersonal warmth, we will develop personality traits that make us self-sufficient and perhaps standoffish or mind-oriented. If we are born into a family that rewards compliance and shuns rebellion, we will learn that being submissive works, and thus adopt that as part of our ego structure.

5 Factors Crucial To Living a Happy Life, according To Carl Jung

These 5 Factors Are Crucial To Living a Happy Life according To Carl Jung

A famous psychologist whose works are the subject of much debate all over the world, Carl Jung’s writing has not lost any of its value over the passage of time.  

We live in a very fast-paced society where we are forced to compete almost constantly with everyone around us. It’s hard to be truly happy when you have to run the rat-race every day but that hasn’t stopped people from searching for it every day.

Psychologists too have been trying to discover the secret to happiness and there’s been a lot of work that tells us we need to look within ourselves to find it. Carl Jung was the first exponent of this theory.

According to him, there are five things we need to do to be happier.

1)  Pay attention to your own well-being

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung

We all know that we need to look after our bodies by getting regular exercises, maintaining a well-balanced diet, ensuring that we rest and looking after our mental well-being in order to actually be happy in this life.

Not only does exercise ensure that we build our stamina and burn excess fat that can cause a lot of diseases, it literally makes us happier.

This is because exercise stimulates the brain causing it to release more endorphins into the body. Endorphins are also called ‘happiness hormones’ and they can make you happy in the same way that eating your favorite chocolate can.

Eating a lot of chocolate will have adverse effects on your health. Rather, make sure that you do some form of exercise for at least half an hour every day. You will feel much better for it.

 

2)  Strengthen your relationships with others

“For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed.”Carl Jung

Human beings are social animals and so we all need love and affection. For those, we look to all the people around us.

They all have the power to give us what we need. But then, no one can love all the people around them at all times and there will be conflict now and then.

But the truth is that a person who has been given a lot of affection and who prioritizes their relationships will undoubtedly be happier than a person who does not.  Not only does spending time with others make us happy, doing things for others out of love can also serve that purpose.

When we don’t put ourselves first and we prioritize others, we can obtain a lot more satisfaction which will invariably lead to the happiness we are all looking for.

Awakening The Shero Within Part 2: The Dark Cave Of The Unconscious

‘There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’ 
                                                              ― C.G. Jung
 
This is a three-part article about my writing challenge:

Enter the Dragon’s Cave: An 11 Day Writing Challenge to Awaken the Shero Within, starting on 26th February!

As each day or ‘chapter’ progresses we will be delving deeper into our Caves. (Read Part 1: Enter the Dragon, if you haven’t already begun from there!)
 
You read about the Dragon, and now I’m going to share what the Cave represents and why we must cross the threshold into it, and more importantly, how to do it!
 
What is the Cave?
 
The cave is a metaphor for our unconscious territory, the Shadow. It contains all manor of goblins, monsters and demons, or so we think! It harbors our ultimate nemesis, the Dragon. It keeps within it all that which has power over us; those things that block our path and keep us stuck in repetitive behavioral patterns that don’t support our highest purpose and vision.
 
These unconscious entities cause confusion and chaos within and keep us from accessing our innate strength and vitality, our Shakti, our feminine power!
 
Newsflash: These forces exist in our mental and emotional bodies! The feeling layer of our being represents the Great Mother who holds both light and dark qualities. In our patriarchal culture, we have learned to negate the dark aspect of the feminine; those intense, unwieldy, uncomfortable, painful and destructive emotions.

To go within the Cave is a daunting prospect for good reason. Something is sacrificed as we enter. Something sheds. And something dies. But just like the divine feminine who is symbolic of both creation and destruction, when you consciously go within the Cave and come out the other end, something is re-birthed, recreated and re-imagined.
 
This ‘something’ is our very real challenges and obstacles.

The Warrior Shero takes the quest into the dark cave of the unconscious, the lair of death and the womb of rebirth to unlock her hidden potential and power!

 
My 11 day challenge aims at awakening our inner Shero, the warrior feminine so that we may collect and reclaim parts of our power.
 
Until we confront, communicate and ideally befriend the dark or negative expressions of our emotions, the feminine will likely remain disempowered.
 
What if you never go through your Cave?
 
Simply, you don’t change. You don’t transform. You live in your mental stories and life stresses and don’t align with your authentic nature and vision. You lack vitality and drive to do what you really want and don’t get the nourishment and support you need to move your life forward!
 
In a recent survey I sent out, nearly all of the respondents complained of the ‘lack of time’ to put themselves first – to do the work to heal and get their lives in order! This followed self-deprecating thoughts and beliefs that included self-blame, guilt and frustration.
 
Many are stuck in the maya or illusion of time.

That ‘if’ they had time and energy, they would eventually ‘find’ calm and stillness. They’d be centred and grounded and then finally they’d be able to establish a solid structure upon which to get the consistency they need to overcome their fears and worries.
 
Let me be real here! The truth is, you will never have enough time. Time must be created; energy and vitality is created; structure is consciously created; consistency is created!
 
The power to change our lives is in invoking the feminine principle of creation.
 
That’s why it’s so crucial to take steps to awaken this archetype within!

I have created this structure for you over a container of 11 days so that you can awaken both warrior and feminine in order to step out from the Shadow and into the vision you hold for yourself.
 
What are you reasons for not taking it? Please do let me know your objections so that I can dispel your fears!
 
When guilt paralyses you from saying No to other people’s needs, when fear of other people’s judgments trap you from doing what you really desire and when self-doubt places you at the mercy of external validation, what kind of quality of life are you living?
 
I have been there and the truth is you’ll remain locked in this reality and nothing will change – unless you go into your Cave!
 
The answer to How we Enter the Dragon’s Cave, that murky place of challenges, obstacles, chaos and confusion is to create a path through!
 
How to create a path through the darkness
 
During my battle with the Dragon – the malignant Narcissist (see Part 1) – I endured long-term emotional torture, pain and suffering. These emotions were his life-blood. In order to stop feeding the agony, fury and despair within myself, to stop being reactive – I pulled out my familiar friends—my writing pad and pen—and I began to write to each of my emotions.

30 Life Altering Lessons To Learn From Carl Jung

30 Life Altering Lessons To Learn From Carl Jung

30 Life-Altering Lessons To Learn From Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung, born Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. He has a huge contribution to the field of psychology. He founded analytical psychology and was one of the first experts to have explored the religious  He argued that empirical evidence alone could not arrive at psychological or scientific truths and that the soul plays a key role in the psyche.

Carl Jung has numerous quotes and sayings that will inspire you to introspect the depth of your psyche and better understand your self.

Over the past years, I have started recognizing the profound depth in his words and how it redirected my life and understanding to a whole new level.

Here is a compilation of the most mind-blowing lessons to learn from Carl Jung that is about to change the way you view life.

Here we go.

30 Life-Altering Lessons To Learn From Carl Jung:

1. Knowledge about self is the ultimate wisdom.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

2. Balance brings harmony.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”

3. Love and power are each other’s shadow.

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.”

4. To know a thing we need to know what it is not.

“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.”

5. The best solution to the greatest problems is to outgrow them.

“The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.”

6. We choose who we want to become.

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

7. Pain awakens us.

“There is no birth of consciousness without pain.” (My favorite)

8. Pride is self-deceiving.

“Through pride, we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience, a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.”

9. Abuse is usually passed on from one person to another.

“The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.”

Lessons to Learn from Carl Jung 1

10. We project our undesirable feelings and thoughts onto others.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

Carl Gustav Jung – The Three Births of the Human Spirit

C. G. Jung believes that we need to go through three births in our lifetime. The first is our physical birth, then the birth of our Ego, and spiritual birth of Consciousness. In accordance with that fact, we also undergo three phases of development in our life. In the first third of our lives, emphasis is on our bodily growth, in the middle phase of our lives our Ego grows, and the last third of our lives is the period of our internal development. While at the first two births the most important thing is the maximum exploitation of the opportunities offered by the external world. In the third phase, however, the emphasis shifts on our internal development potentials. Unfortunately, the majority of people will never experience the spiritual birth for various reasons. Let us examine the possible reasons for that, to find out what factors prevents spiritual birth in us.

The Programming of the Mind

Our spiritual birth is usually prevented by the conditioned deep programming of the mind. These programs place the development of the Ego in the foreground, and make efforts to sustain that development until the end of the life of the individual. The programmings support the progress of the Ego, they urge us to develop a powerful and efficient Ego for ourselves, and they make us believe that it is the ultimate goal in human life. These programmings regard any effort at suppressing the Ego as a sign of weakness that we should be ashamed of, and that we should avoid at any cost.

These conditioned mental patterns are realized as various systems of beliefs and patterns of thoughts in our lives. These patterns of thoughts and beliefs are not created by ourselves. They have been handed down to us by our parents, our community and the society in which we grow up, and we have also borrowed some from the media. We very often accept these ready-made mental patterns and beliefs uncritically, without any thinking; what is more, we identify with these patterns that will, in this way, be incorporated into our personalities.

That is how our different convictions have been created over the years, that is how we have created a system of values and beliefs for ourselves, and we now organize our entire life based upon those systems. Those conditioned mental patterns serve as a background to the events that are happening to us day by day. The majority of our worries, desires, pleasures and motivations are derived from those mental patterns and all these, in turn, further reinforce those patterns.

The Social Pattern

All what has been stated above will lead us to the conclusion that our programmed Mind is a social product. Reinforcing the Ego and the never reached spiritual birth, in fact, serve the interests of society. The most important system of social co-existence on Earth today is the consumer society. It means that the basis of social development is economic growth, and economic growth depends on how much we consume.

The most important consumer is Ego, since all products obtained (house, car, expensive clothes), improve the imaginary greatness of the Ego. The more commodities or more power we possess, the more important members of consumer society we are.

If we are able to divert our attention from Ego, and concentrate on our internal development and our spiritual birth, our qualities as consumers will considerably drop, since we are no longer attracted to the things that so far fattened our Egos.

As in the recent decades more and more people have felt a need for spiritual birth, social strategy changed accordingly. Spiritual development has also been made a consumer product, which largely supported by the survival instinct of the Ego. The Ego, which has been interested in money and power, now turns towards spiritual development, and disguises itself in the dress of a spiritual Ego. We try to decorate those spiritual clothes by adding more and more spiritual knowledge and experience so as to make it more colorful and individual.  With all that, we hope that our spiritual progress will serve the further increase and eternal happiness of our spiritual Ego.

Consumer society is all too pleased to serve us in those needs. A glance at the vivid market of spiritual books, methods and masters will suffice to convince us about that. Nothing has really changed; the pattern of the consumer society is the same, only its contents have been partially replaced.

There 4 Types of Introverts (according to Jungian Psychology)

There 4 Types of Introverts (according to Jungian Psychology)

Carl Jung classified four cognitive introverted functions: social introversion, thinking introversion, anxious introversion and restrained introversion. Find out below under which class your fall in and how it affects your mind.

Note, we must be aware that social orientation is not an issue when it comes to social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety does not make a person exclusively an introvert; even extroverts suffer from social anxiety disorder.

Researchers have carelessly assorted all other introversion forms into the social, thinking and restrained classes without considering that they are not mutually exclusive to three “types”.  The problem is, true introverts would do the same.

The Jungian definition of introversion classifies the different types of introversion into four mutually exclusive categories which we will dissect further below.

 

01) Introverted Sensors

Reality for sensing introverts is a mechanical process of breaking down observations, experiences, then meticulously sifting and sorting through them to find relevancy. Their detail-oriented mind constantly picks up patterns in behaviour and stores them for future perusal and use. Rules and tradition are the dictums for introverted sensors and they are keen to keep things in order- homes, selves and environment.

Left to their own devices, introverted sensors keep themselves busy to making plans for the future, tidying up their lives and contemplating the past.

 

02) Introverted Feelers

Introverted feelers are the tortured souls who take on the life and its ever-changing meaning on a personal and deep level. The slightest social injustice or wronged victim set them off. They can be termed as highly sensitive and judge the world based on personal moral code created from past experience. They disseminate and absorb life around them in a subjective manner and are extremely creative at heart. They often lose themselves into the arts.

Alone to surf their thoughts, introverted feelers let loose their wildest imaginations and make ideals to aspire to in the future. They use that time in isolation to merge meaning and moral together by a deeper understanding of an experience.

 

03) Introverted Thinkers

Logic reigns in the reality of an introverted thinker. They dismiss the deeper meaning of truths and devour knowledge and facts. Their ultimate quest is to determination true information and false information. Being the true researchers and scientists in the world, they maintaining as much accuracy as possible while assimilating objective truths.

In seclusion, they are building a framework of the mechanisms of the world in a rational and objective manner. They are sifting through a large database of information, grasping and cataloging new information in their midst, while researching tirelessly.

 

04) Introverted Intuitives

Intuitive Introverts see the world as a myriad of puzzles to be solved. They take great enthusiasm in solving complex problems

In their free time, intuitive introverts seek to lay down the foundations of their future and planning ahead. They research to discover new ideas to place into their pre-existing worldviews by meditating and coming up with an abstract solution. They predict, plan and ponder the wonders of the world with their intuitive perception.

Note: One of Jung’s guiding principle was that each being embodied both introverted and extroverted traits. Therefore,  an intuitive introvert maybe an extroverted feeler and vice versa. Furthermore, it was Jung’s belief that each of us possess two extroverted cognitive functions and two introverted cognitive functions. It must be kept in mind that all these functions of the extrovert and introvert are mutually exclusive.

There 4 Types of Introverts (according to Jungian Psychology)

Psychologist Carl Jung on Spirituality

Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875, Kesswil, – June 6, 1961, Küsnacht) was a Swiss psychiatrist, influential thinker, and founder of analytical psychology. Jung’s unique and broadly influential approach to psychology has emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician for most of his life, much of his life’s work was spent exploring other realms including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His most notable contributions include his concept of the psychological archetype, the collective unconscious, and his theory of synchronicity. Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious realm. Jungian ideas are not typically included in curriculum of most major universities’ psychology departments, but are occasionally explored in humanities departments.

Jung’s work on himself and his patients convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals. Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential. Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung believed that this journey of transformation, which he called individuation, is at the mystical heart of all religions. It is a journey to meet the self and at the same time to meet the Divine. Unlike Sigmund Freud, Jung thought spiritual experience was essential to our well-being.

The work and writings of Jung from the 1940s onwards focused on alchemy.

In 1944 Jung published Psychology and Alchemy, where he analyzed the alchemical symbols and showed a direct relationship to the psychoanalytical process.[b] He argued that the alchemical process was the transformation of the impure soul (lead) to perfected soul (gold), and a metaphor for the individuation process.

Spirituality Quotes from Carl Jung

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Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

It is on the whole probably that we continually dream, but that consciousness makes such a noise that we do not hear it.

We meet ourselves time and time again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.


Source – Body Mind Soul Spirit

 

Psychologist Carl Jung on Spirituality