Ahhh Shadow Work, it’s perhaps not the most popular process of individuation that we can discuss but it is arguably one of the most profound.
Shadow work is difficult because it involves wondering around deep in our murky depths and hauling up less appealing aspects of ourselves for examination under the light of day so that we can bring more light into our soul, self and spirit and reclaim or accept parts of ourselves we’d prefer to keep buried within.
See, we did say it was profound.
Examples of SOME of the shadows we might dredge up from our ‘self’ could be;
● Patterns and behaviours that we don’t like about ourselves.
● Suppressed personality traits that we’ve abandoned or disowned.
● Sometimes the good in us that we’ve learned to suppress.
● Our feminine or masculine side (regardless of gender).
● Unconscious desires or thought patterns
● Habits that don’t serve us.
● Control dramas.
● Parts of our ‘self’ or personality that we consider to be ugly.
● Our strategies
● Conflicting parts of our ‘self.’
● Some of our innate needs (which can include inner child work, true spiritual connection, masculine/feminine reconciliation/coping strategies, emotional security).
We All Have A Shadow Side
According to our friend Carl Jung ‘the shadow’ contains every aspect of a person that they are not conscious of. And as a Hypnotherapist, I can assure you that plenty is going on unconsciously that you are not aware of.
Uncovering your shadow doesn’t mean that you will become toxic, or that you are a bad person, and it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you will unleash the devil within.
Far from it.
Even if you might feel that way at the thought of your shadow side, the fact that you might even worry about it shows that there is so much more to you than a few shadows lurking around and if you are not concerned about it, kudos to you for learning how to accept your ‘self’.
There’s a reason why we all have a shadow side not least because if you didn’t, and everything about you was projecting out externally (the good, the bad and the ugly), you’d be spinning around not knowing what you should do first, or who you should be.
The shadow side is there for a reason; they are our lessons, and how we grow. Many of which can be surprisingly reassuring and not what we might have expected at first.
For example; A man with a great fear of classrooms who was willing to risk the job he had held for forty years because he had to study to meet new legal standards thought he was ‘stupid’ (his words not mine). It turned out he was far from stupid, but at a young age, his teacher embarrassed him terribly in front of the class which caused him to urinate – furthering his embarrassment (he had repressed the whole memory). When he uncovered this shadow, he realised that he wasn’t stupid and that he was also sensitive and gentle which are not bad qualities at all!
Uncovering this was enough for this gentleman, to face the classroom, pass his exams, and give himself permission to allow his gentleness to shine (which only made him even more inspiring and engaging than he was before).
This example shows how we can form some shadow aspects – but also how we can suppress our nature. In this case, the client had suppressed or disowned his sensitive and gentle side too – seeing these as weak qualities. And he had developed a fear, or dislike of the classroom to prevent him from ever experiencing such a traumatic experience again.
When we learn about our shadow side, we empower and heal ourselves, and when we do that, we change the metaphysical energy on the planet too. We improve ourselves and the earth! There is nothing wrong that can come from exploring our shadows only good.
But how do you start to discover your shadow? There are many ways to do this, here are some of our favourites
Well, of course, we have Archetypes listed here because it is our thing! But in all seriousness, looking at what we perceive to be the negative aspects of all archetypes, or our assigned or favourite archetypes, and then looking at why we recognise these traits as negative will highlight some shadows this is just one way to use archetypes for shadow work.
Numbers are everywhere. And they all have their own vibrational meanings, their own energy, and we all have numbers that represent our life path, our destiny our psyche and even our day to day journey. And when we understand the shadow sides of the numbers that we connect with, then we can start to notice how these numerological shadows are playing out in our own lives.
We are written in the stars – literally, the date of our birth forever carved into the night sky and with that comes the astrological influences that are destined to follow us for our entire life – even the undesirables. We can learn about the shadows of our astrological star signs to find out more about how we might be carrying around a few astrological shadows that are worth reviewing now.
Tarot incorporates numerology, astrology, energy, divination, magical properties, and can pick up on all sides of the coin concerning your life at any given time with any variation that you can think of. Want to know the shadow of you as a person according to the cards? Done. Want to know what opportunities for shadow work are available to you this week, month, year? Done, done and done – it really is only limited to how you translate the cards, or how the cards are translated for you.
This is a daily practice that you can use to start to notice the little quirks that could form your shadow. All you do is pay attention to things you don’t like, that annoy you, things that frustrate you, or that you avoid. Notice when you feel offended, or incensed. And also how you empower or disempower yourself around others and in different scenarios – all of these little seemingly irrelevant things will lead you to something in your shadows that you are now ready to reconcile.
Trauma work is essential because without healing a trauma you won’t have the space to work on other aspects of individuation. You can think of trauma as a massive crack in the earth that represents your psyche. All you need to do is clear out the debris and fill in the gap. Sounds easy and it is reasonably easy. But you’ll probably need some help, or to develop some solid skills in creative visualisation.
If you have an excellent hypnotherapist who doesn’t just help people with past life regression or to stop smoking, then you have a good chance at working through some of your shadow sides. You could speak to them about shadow work and ask for a session to uncover aspects of yourself that you are not consciously aware of but that would help you and others if you were to reconcile it.
Dreams, are the movies of our unconscious mind, and ok, well, some of the dreams do represent movies, books or fantasies that we unconsciously accept as real but, when it comes to shadow work, even the fantasies and films mean something. They reflect something that has impacted you and that you are trying to reconcile. As well as those dreams that are based on real ‘stuff’ that also present for reconciliation too.
Dreamwork can be profound for shadow work – now all you have to do is figure out how to remember your dreams!
Michelle is a personal development and spiritual content writer and blogger. She previously worked as a Hypnotherapist, and NLP Master Practitioner and has studied human behavior and ‘things’ of an esoteric nature her whole life. Her passion for helping people to attain joy, peace, and happiness through all aspects of personal development and through simplifying life flows through in every piece of work she does.