What exactly is shadow work?
The shadow is the hidden, repressed, and unconscious parts of ourselves that we unknowingly ignore. Most of it stems from our childhood and adolescence. Our family dynamic and the way we were brought up taught us a lot about what is expected of us and what is unacceptable. From there we develop protection mechanisms, learned behavior, and beliefs that could get us the love, belonging, and acceptance we desire. The ego's responsibility is to keep our insecurities and inadequacies in the dark. However, with age and maturity we begin to notice the traits that once kept us safe as children no longer serve us as healing adults. For example, throwing a temper tantrum to get the attention of your parents might look like starting petty arguments with your partner. Another example looks like keeping quiet when a guardian or classmate offends you and learning to be passive aggressive; instead of communicating your needs.
Shadow work comes in to enlighten us about the disowned parts of ourselves. Therefore, we become whole by learning to integrate.
How does it benefit me?
As stated previously, the whole purpose of shadow work is to be whole. To know who you are without the programming, fears, limiting beliefs we hold. Making shadow work a consistent practice encourages you to take accountability for your own healing, growth, and evolution. A lot of us tend to rely on sources outside of ourselves when the answers are within. Authenticity is a result of doing the shadow work. There's nothing more powerful than knowing exactly who you are inside and out at your core. Then, living unapologetically as yourself. We often find ourselves being a projection of who we are expected to be instead of being who we authentically are. It's easy for society to tell you who you are when you are blind to your strengths and weaknesses. Doing the work allows you to step into your personal power.
This journey allows you to show yourself compassion and love: where judgment, criticism, and shame is normally displayed. In essence, shadow work isn’t some type of woo-woo technique that you read about in Cosmopolitan magazine or something you heard of on TikTok. It's transformative. Healing. Power.
How do I know it’s time to do the work?
You know it's time to do the shadow work if you…
- show signs of depression, anxiety, paranoia, etc
- display jealous characteristics and compare yourself often
- find yourself being pessimistic most of the time
- have fears and doubts that hold you back from your goals
- are empathic with little to know boundaries
- are afraid of people getting close to you
- cast harsh criticism or judgment on yourself and others
- have a hard time exhibiting self love
- are affected by the mother/father wound
- have memories or experiences that affect your self image and overall view of the world.
All in all you will intuitively know when it's time. There is no technical right or wrong way of doing the work. However, I would suggest researching more about this technique for guidance purposes. You are the creator of your reality. The healer is within you.
Kyra Beasley is a self development and mindset coach with a concentration in shadow work and inner-child healing. She’s also an intuitive healer and tarot reader with over 100 testimonials.
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