Shadow work is an ideology that involves a set of techniques that can help people improve their emotional, psychological and spiritual wellness. Therapists, Counsellors, Shamans, Coaches, and Healers can help others heal various emotional, mental and spiritual difficulties.
Put simply “shadow work” is a psychological term for that which we can’t see within ourselves. Someone may be aware of themselves in one area of their life, while not being aware of poor or limited behaviour and/or repetitive negative patterns in behaviour and circumstances in your life. There are many different meanings and opinions on shadow work and I am not here to assert that my definition or way of working with shadow is absolute.
I have been working with people professionally for over thirteen years, helping them become aware of and own their shadow through my Unlock Your Love Blocks program. As an Intuitive Coach, Energy Healer and Psychic, I have a particular interest in assisting people have a deeper connection and understanding with themselves, whilst also becoming aware of how their shadow is creating issues in their relationships.
It’s not easy work and I have the utmost respect for anyone who wants to embark on a journey within to fully see themselves and take ownership and responsibility for themselves and their life. Put simply, shadow work is facing those parts of yourself that you would rather shove in a box and ignore and pretend they don’t exist. Except they do exist, and they are often at the root of many of our relationship issues. Until we can see ourselves in both light and shadow; understand it and work with it and take fully responsibility for it, then we will often be triggered in many situations in life and by certain people. Taking time to recognise the deep (often spiritual) gifts that the shadow can offer you in terms of your evolvement as a person and enlightenment as a soul, can and will open up tremendous opportunities for not only deep healing but also deeper connections and experiences in relationships.
In the Unlock Your Love Blocks program, you will journey through various doorways within yourself, exploring, observing, and sitting with different parts of yourself. Some of these parts you won’t know even existed and why; and others you will be familiar with and aware you have chosen to lock that part of yourself up or ignore it. The intention of this work is to help you become what you feel is missing in your life. To help you understand by filing away these parts of you or not being in connection with them will only take you so far in life. Some of you have learnt to smile your way through life; pretend or hide yourself away. Until you give yourself the opportunity to integrate all the good, bad, ugly and unhealed parts of yourself, I believe you will continue to struggle in your relationship with yourself and others.
Emotions can be difficult to manage and we have all learnt different ways to cope with them. Mostly we do that by pushing them away and ignoring them, yet they come out in our patterns in relationships with others mostly, often unconsciously.
For many people emotions are just too much. Shadow work may be referred to as trauma work by some. I believe there is a fine line there. There are many different behaviour patterns we can adopt after being through something traumatic, that may manifest as a “shadow”. Deep trauma will often need to be managed in conjunction with a trained therapist. It is not the intention of shadow work to re-traumatise people and anyone not fully equipped to deal with deep trauma needs to be aware of this.
From a personal development and spiritual point of view, most people I work with are working through karmic soul lessons with an intention to transcend limitations and become a more conscious, heart-centred person and reach our highest potential possible in this lifetime. Of course, there are wounds to heal; forgiveness to express to self and perhaps others, and awareness of self to be had along the way.
Signs that you may need to do some Shadow Work:
You feel disconnected to who you are; or often don’t feel “present in the moment” and/or unable to feel emotions. You may even “zone out” or “disconnect” through drugs and alcohol, gambling; sex, shopping, eating etc;
Feel destructive with big emotions coming up – you could get really easily angered or irate when something comes up or have outbursts to vent frustration or despair. You might feel like you cannot control these feelings when they arise and need to do something destructive like punch a wall or break something. Some people may find at this point they lose their shit and big arguments with loved ones blow up really quickly; some people sabotage the good things that are happening in their life such as work or relationships. Others may feel they want to harm themselves.
Unfulfilling Relationships – perhaps your relationships are very surface level and lack depth. You may also have other problems such as constant misunderstandings in communications; feeling your partner has all the problems and you have none; being easily trigged by your partner’s behaviours and starting constant arguments; other destructive behaviour patterns that damage your relationship.
Compassion and Self Love in Shadow Work
Shadow work can be brutal, as the intention is to break down the ego and all the images we hold ourselves in that are not aligned with our Soul or our True Self. As you move through shadow work the “persona” or the “idealised self” (the ego) that you have constructed breaks down, you realise you are not who you thought you were. Those who embark on this journey know they are not moving through life as their authentic self, and must know that inside of them they will have or will muster the strength and the courage to hold themselves in love and compassion.
If you have moved through life with your self-esteem reliant on being the “good girl or boy” you may be very judgemental of yourself and it can be a difficult ride. Shadow work focuses you to look at yourself, both light and dark, and both can be equally difficult to accept. When we are deeply resistant to ourselves as a whole, and judgemental we tend to be very judgemental towards others as well. The journey of shadow work may entail not only having compassion for yourself and your faults but also those loved ones that have hurt you too. The more we see our own shadow and why we do the things we do, the more we will see and understand that in others too. Even some of the most hated people. We will also begin to see that some of the things we despise the most in some are what we have deeply buried in ourselves. This is not for the feint hearted.
Before embarking on shadow work, you must know that you have some level of compassion within you. Strong levels of shame can appear when doing shadow work, it is a form of “breaking” or “initiation” and for some people this might not be the best work to start with. If you already feel completely broken, this work probably will not help you. Rather your focus should be focused on loving yourself and building up your self-esteem. The Unlock Your Love Blocks program focuses on that as we move through, however, there is still a lot of “breaking down”. Some manage it in small chunks at a time. I have had women go through the program over three years, each year, chewing off just a little bit more than the year before. There is no race. You can’t start one month and know it will be over at the end of the course. It is a journey, a process, a chapter in your life; in your evolving as a Soul. It takes as long as it takes. You cannot put a time limit on this work.
If you are completely broken, build the light within for a while; build your self-esteem and practice kindness and compassion with yourself for a while before you begin to work with your shadow.
Next month I will talk more about how the shadow is formed and how some people may be spiritually by-passing their shadow.
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