What is the Shadow?
In Jungian psychology, the Shadow is either an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself; or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side.
The Shadow is the “dark side” of our personality because it consists mostly of primitive, negative human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness and the striving for power. Things like judgements, regrets, unconscious contracts, triggers, fears, shames and wounds all make up our Shadow.
All we deny in ourselves—whatever we perceive as inferior, evil, or unacceptable—become part of the shadow.
However, it’s not about trying to “fix” these parts of ourselves- it’s about embracing them, healing where we need to and accepting ourselves as fully integrated humans. Also, when we don’t acknowledge our shadow we also cut ourselves off from many of our best qualities too.
WHAT IS SHADOW WORK?
Shadow Work is the process of exploring your inner darkness, or “Shadow Self.” Shadow Work is about uncovering all parts of you that has been repressed, rejected or disowned and then bringing them back in through integration and acceptance. Until we do this process, we will continue to attract people and situations that are projections of these parts of us we try to avoid.
Shadow work is ultimately about letting go of you think you should be so that you can become who you actually are.
SIGNS THAT YOU ARE INVITED TO FACE A SHADOW
- You are harshly judging and shaming others or yourself
- You are feeling envy/jealousy
- You are suppressing or bypassing emotions that you don’t want to feel.
- You are projecting onto others.
- You are highly triggered by a specific behavior.
- You find yourself attracting the same type of toxic relationship over and over.
Working on your Shadow can:
- Help you develop self-awareness
- Increase your confidence, authentically
- Improve your personal relationships
- Unlock your creative potential
- Strengthen your intuition
- Enhance your physical and mental energy
- Understand your individual self and “superpowers”
HOW TO START YOUR SHADOW WORK
- Tune into a difficulty you’re having. How does it feel right now? Anchor into
- What word, memory or image first comes to mind? Notice the first thing that comes up. Whatever comes up has meaning.
- Go into that memory or image. Connect with your inner child. Simply set the intention and energetically be open to whatever wants to come up around it.
- Allow your inner child to speak to you and you to speak to them. Remember the soul often speaks in symbols- not logic or full sentences. Trust whatever comes up.
- Continue this dialogue and see if you can ask your inner child what they need to hear from you in this moment.
- Sit with any residual feelings and let them move through you- write it out or move your body and clear any emotional debris.
It’s okay if nothing pops up the first time you do this. The journey back into integration and wholeness takes time, so be gentle with yourself.
6 JOURNAL PROMPTS FOR SHADOW WORK
- What ways do I judge myself and others? Do I hold myself to higher standards than others or vice versa? How can I begin to release judgement and level out the playing field?
- What is a grudge/incident that I am holding onto? Why do I choose to hold onto this? How would it feel to let it go? How can I let this weight go?
- How does the feeling of envy show up in my life? Where does the envy that I’m feeling stem from? How would I feel if I got the things I am envious of?
- What is something that I should forgive myself for? Why haven’t I forgiven myself before? Can I forgive myself now?
- How do I show up for others but ignore showing up for myself?
- How can I be kinder to myself? In what ways do I consciously or unconsciously punish myself? How can I prioritize myself more?