"Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected." - Carl Jung
Shadow Work is not for the faint of heart.
It requires a serious level of self-awareness to look at the repressed and rejected parts of ourselves.
As we dig into our shadow, we identify the root of these aspects. Often deeply rooted in our childhood. As we learn about ourselves, we see how our shadow is cast into every aspect of our lives.
Shadow Work never truly ends, as we can constantly unfold ourselves. When we think we have resolved as an aspect of our shadow, it can pop up in another unsuspecting way and area in our life.
Many of us have spent our entire lives running from ourselves.
Painfully avoiding it through various addictions: The internet, drugs, alcohol, sex, codependency, food... Anything.
We use things outside of ourselves to fill a void.
We pull ourselves out of alignment.
We suppress our pain and our healing, shoving it deep down within ourselves until it festers and grows.
Leaking into our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Learning to sit with our pain, while incredibly difficult, lies the key to healing, and within our healing is growth.
So how does one go about Shadow Work?
Foremost, the first few go arounds on the Spiral of our Shadow can be incredibly difficult. Working with a therapist can be very beneficial, especially to those who have serious trauma rooted in their past.
Also, it takes a serious level of self-honesty, self-awareness and to have accountability over oneself. Having healthy coping skills is incredibly important. Also, a level of self-compassion and the ability to acknowledge, but not stew in self-hatred, self-loathing, and self-pity.
Whenever an uncomfortable feeling or situation arises, learn to sit with the emotion.
Ask yourself why you are feeling angry, sad, etc. Identify what is going on underneath the surface, looking at any behaviors, beliefs, and thoughts around it.
Ask yourself what you can do differently. How can you challenge yourself? It is easy to realize these aspects of oneself but then continue to swim in our shadow instead of properly integrating it.
There is a level of action to do the opposite of what we are used to doing. Having awareness is only half of the battle, and without action, change cannot happen.