How to do the shadow work?

Over the last couple of weeks we have discussed what the shadow is and how it may impact on your ability to live a full life. This week we start to explore how to do the shadow work. However, please note upfront that when you start shadow work, it can be confronting as you are challenging some long and deep held beliefs you learned as a child.

Shadow work is generally done through asking yourself some objective questions, those that are designed to find out more about yourself. These questions should allow for critical thinking into your historical belief systems, what you are holding onto and lets you do an honest assessment of your thoughts, feelings and even assumptions.

In a nutshell, shadow work is about integrating your unconscious and conscious to turn what is unacceptable into acceptable. You want to bring your shadow self to the light to understand your true self with complete awareness.

Here are four ways to begin shadow work

  1. Ask questions of your childhood where the shadow self generally originates. The behaviours that were judged and the experiences you had created the shadow within. As you work through the answers to your questions, you can start to see the hidden shadow within yourself.
  2. Become aware of your shadow and bring it into the light. For your awareness to grow you have to bring what you don’t want to see out of the darkness and be willing to see the hidden parts laying inside your consciousness. When you start to see what you have hidden away in the shadow, take a moment to reflect upon them. Are your experiences positive or negative? If they are positive, reconnect with them and bring back your power.
  3. Be non-judgemental and do not blame or shame your shadow self. Those negative parts were pushed into the shadow self because you pushed it away. Acknowledge and accept them but don’t push them away. Show love and compassion as you accept the shadow and bring it into the light. When you continue to reject the shadow it makes it stronger, and you continue to experience the same negative feelings as before. Observe, understand and then integrate it with your consciousness.
  4. Understand and use your triggers effectively, give them a name, to minimise the power the shadow has over you. Your triggers are a messenger sent to help you explore the unconscious deeper and why certain events caused such a reaction for you as they did. Observe the triggers and your emotions instead of letting them takeover.

Awareness is key to doing shadow work.

Disclaimer – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to go through shadow work alone if it becomes too stressful or upsetting, depending on what comes up for you. You can seek the assistance of your doctor, a psychologist or a holistic counsellor who are trained to listen and guide you through shadow work. Sometimes it helps to have someone go on the journey with you – especially if you are new to shadow work.

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