“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.” -Carl Jung
August of last year, the costume I wore and the mask I had made to protect myself from the world around me broke into a million unidentifiable pieces. Everything I had ever thought, my beliefs, my world was now like a village burned to the ground. All that was left standing was the world I could see with my eyes and deep-rooted trauma. As a result, I fell deeper into my 5-year battle with depression and anxiety, but now it was a different feeling. Rather than the unbearable pain and confusion, I now feel an emptiness and terror. My brain, to deal with my burned village and confusion, sends me into derealization and depersonalization episodes that can last hours, days or even weeks. I meet with my therapist every week and through journaling I have been able to understand my own emotions and mind a bit better. A few months ago, my therapist suggested shadow work. She saw the direction my mind was taking me and recognized the pain my consciousness was causing me could be addressed through shadow work.
Your shadow is born out of the repression of certain characteristics or emotions we have taught are ‘bad.’ The shadow represents all the parts of ourselves we have labeled as inferior or unacceptable. These things we have repressed from our subconscious can manifest in depression, anxiety, codependency, self-sabotage, resentment, anger, guilt, shame, etc.. There are many ways to heal and accept your shadows.
First, identify your patterns, triggers, and projections.
- What am I not seeing?
- In understanding and identifying your pattens of emotions and behaviors you can begin to understand your ‘shadows’ and understand what you have denied yourself.
- Weak boundaries, troubles in relationships, constant and repeating fears.
- What makes or drives you?
- Identify and pay mind to your emotional responses.
- What are you feeling? Why? Connect to your emotions.
- How do you present yourself to the world?
- What about other people’s actions upset you?
- This reflects your own shadows and often insecurities.
- “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Carl Jung
- Try 3-2-1 Shadow Process as developed by Ken Wilber.
To answer and address the above you can try...
- Analyze Childhood
(This is the most difficult part.)
- What was unaccepted?
- What did I not receive?
- Did I feel whole? Accepted?
- Inner Dialogue
- How do you talk to yourself?
- In relation to the analysis of your childhood, try embracing inner child dialogue to within you who perhaps feels hurt or scared. This may aid in the other elements above.
- Acceptance & Dark Night
- Practice meditation and being alone in silence with your mind and shadows.
- Challenge the ‘good’ v. ‘bad’ identifications we had been taught.
- Life is a balance of all our traits, in denying traits we identify as bad, we deny ourselves of full humanity.
Shadow work is for anyone and everyone. Our world is filled with many gifts and blessings, but do not deny yourself of your own difficulties. Everyone is entitled to their own struggles and we all heal and address them in a variety of ways.