Shadow Work

Shadow Work

I know most people being a new year writing out New Years Resolutions that they want to do over the upcoming year. 

As for me, I have written out New Years Resolutions in the past, but by the end of January I either haven’t started or I’m already over the resolutions. For the longest time, I wondered why I never wanted to meet these goals. I think some of my goals were lofty at the time, but I think deep down there was something else that was allowing the self-sabotaging behaviour. 

When we create New Years Resolutions, goals or have dreams, we have to have the end in mind and we plan to do things in our live s to reach these goals. However, before we make changes or do things outside of ourselves to reach our goals, it’s also important to look within ourselves. 

Instead of creating New Years Resolutions for the upcoming year, maybe the focus fore each New Year could be looking within ourselves to see what we need to do in order to change and grow. By looking inwards, we can start to explore and find our deepest desires and our shadow self, which can prevent us from obtaining our deepest desires. 

Shadow Work

The Shadow

In analytical psychology, the Shadow (AKA the ID, shadow aspect or shadow archetype) is the unconscious part of our personality that our conscious ego doesn’t want to identify with. According to psychologist Carl Jung, the shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative. However, since one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspect of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative. 

The shadow self is the darker side of ourselves we repress or ignore. The shadows can come from trauma or are part of us that society or our upbringing didn’t want to accept. 

What is Shadow Work?

Jung believed that if people didn’t embrace the entirety of your being, you couldn’t live a full and unfeterred life. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Shadow can lead to limiting beliefs, which lead to undesirable outcomes such as self-sabotage, destructive behaviour and even ruin relationships. 

When we dig deep and dive into our shadows, we are acknowledging all parts of the psyche – bringing what is dark into the light. Shadow work is about embracing and living a multi-faceted life that incorporates the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, and the uncertain – all of it. 

Shadow work isn’t therapy; this is a spiritual and emotional tool that allows you to discover the real you. It can be hard because uncomfortable thoughts, feelings in our physical body and uncomfortable emotions can arise because we are now bringing awareness, attention and love to the parts of yourself that have been rejected. The path to enlightenment is making peace with all the rejected pieces of ourselves. 

How to do Shadow Work

There are many ways to do shadow work and there isn’t one “right” way to do it. I have learned a five-step process from my mentors who follow Carl Jung’s process of doing shadow work. 

What are our shadows and how do I find them?

We all have many shadows that can come up for us, however three main core shadows that can come up for most people are:

Shadows can appear any time, throughout the day or when we have a goal or dream and you find yourself resisting or even self-sabotaging that dream or goal. 

For example, one of the most popular New Years Resolution is becoming fit and working out more. From my personal experience, I know the first couple of weeks go well, but then things in life happen an I start to make excuses or avoid the workouts. 

I then start to feel guilty because I am only working out once or twice a week, instead of every day. Eventually I stope the routine entirely and move on to something new, or I try again, but keep falling into this repetitive cycle. 

Can you relate? This is our shadow side preventing us from getting what we want. Deep down I am resisting the process and I am allowing the feelings and emotions around failure and judgement to come up and take over subconsciously. 

5 Stages of Shadow Work

01. Identify

The first step is to identify the shadows and allow them to come forward. In the example above, the shadows can be confidence / self-worth and judgement. When an issue comes up in your life, sit for a few moments and think of all the things you don’t like about yourself and the situation, all the things you reject.
  1. Write down all your thoughts that come up for you.
  2. Question them with “why” to dig deeper.
  3. Once you identify the “root” issue (fear, judgement, self-worth, etc.), start to notice how it feels in your body. Use this shadow for the rest of the exercises.
In this stage, you may feel resistance and possible pain in your physical body. This physical pain is residue from past emotional pain that has been suppressed and lodged into the shadows. As you face your shadows, the emotions as well as the physical pain may start to appear. If this happens, just observe, notice and understand how the pain comes up for you. What’s cool about the pain body is that as you start working more with shadow work, you can recognize the pain as a shadow and call it out and it will go away.

02. Accept

This is where we see the shadow version of ourselves, allowing us to confront the “dark” side. The dark side may be helpful aspects of ourselves that we hid away for whatever reason.

Your shadow is what it is. Own it. 

  1. How has this shadow served me?
  2. What was its purpose?

03. Intimacy

This stage pushes us to actually feel our feelings and have the willingness to expand. Our shadows create drama for us because it wants acknowledgement and to be seen on a conscious level. 

In this stage, we provide compassion, love and welcome the shadows back to ourselves. This is about understanding and celebrating the dramas that the shadows have created for us, and start to love ourselves on a different level. 

  1. Am I willing to expand how I feel about this?
  2. How does my shadow want to celebrate the drama it craves?

04. Embody

This step is unifying the shadows within us. This is an empowering stage because we are now able to move forward with decisiveness. When a shadow appears, we can start to look at our lives from an observer perspective. Dive deeper into your interactions with this part of yourself without judgement, and with love instead.

  1. When has the most recent shadow (fear, confidence, judgement) appeared in your life?
  2. How did you react?
  3. Knowing what you do now about your shadow, would you choose to respond differently and how so? 
  4. What would you want your future response to look like with this shadow? How do those responses feel? Choose your responses. Write them out and then start to implement them when a trigger occurs. 

05. Integrate

As you continue to embody your conscious response to your shadows, integration will start to happen over time. You know you have integrated when a trigger or pain body occurs from a shadow and you don’t have an emotional response. You’re able to continue to move forward without drama or reactions. 

As I stated before, shadow work is not easy work. It can be painful (physically and emotionally), uncomfortable and hard. However, as we bring shadows into the light, we then have the ability to start loving ourselves entirely, which is truly empowering. 

If you would like more guidance or support when it comes to shadow work, please feel free to reach out to me. Know that I am here to support you in any way I can.

Connecting With Corinne | Yoga

The highest in me honours the highest in you.