It’s quite likely as you travel your life journey, you encounter plenty of situations that get your emotions riled up. Sometimes, you get riled up in positive ways, such as when your child comes home with thrilling news about a major accomplishment they achieved at school.
Other times, negative emotions get riled up, such as when you hear bad news, get into an argument with a loved one, experience loss, and so on.
Learning how to identify and process emotions is important if you want to enjoy peace and joy along your journey. A self or spiritual discovery journey is a helpful way to start learning about your emotions and work on becoming the best version of yourself.
Shadow work is a term coined by the well-known Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. As he intensely studied the psyche, he came up with a model of the psyche that helped others understand it better.
Essentially, he taught that the psyche is made up of the consciousness and unconsciousness. The ego is the conscious part, which is basically our personality. The unconscious he called the shadow. This is the part he referred to when he talked about shadow work.
Because the shadow is in the unconscious part of the psyche, we don't typically see it. It's hidden. Shadow work is essentially taking the time to begin an inner journey to shine light into the unconscious to see what is in there and what may be holding us back in life.
Typically, the shadow is comprised of parts of ourselves that we repressed or rejected since we were children.
For example, a 6-year-old who is beaten up by his neighbor may not have been old enough to really process and integrate the scary emotions that arose during the confrontation. The ego will relegate those intense emotions to the shadow side.
This is the nature of the psyche when it doesn't know how or isn’t mature enough to understand how to process intense emotions.
Other things you may find in the shadow are feelings of abandonment, fear, shame, unworthiness, rage, as well as some positive characteristics such as assertiveness or a particular talent.
Every human being creates a shadow side as they navigate life. It's simply the way the psyche works. Part of life’s journey is to take some time to delve inside and make the unconscious conscious so we can process, heal, and integrate what we find.
Have you had some struggles where you reacted strongly emotionally?
Do you feel stuck in life? Is it tough for you to even feel emotions?
Doing shadow work can help you begin to recognize thoughts, emotions, and habits that could be holding you back or keeping you in emotional turmoil.
Speaking for myself, shadow work has helped me address plenty of insecurities, past pain, fear, and has also helped me locate specific positive talents that were relegated to the shadow years ago. I've gotten to know myself a lot better, and that includes my spiritual self as well.
There are several ways you can begin doing shadow work. As you navigate your personal and spiritual development journey, it's important that you find your individual path that resonates with you. The following are several ways that individuals embrace shadow work. You can try one or try them all and see what helps you the most when it comes to unearthing what may be holding you back.
Daily meditation is a wonderful practice for going within and getting to know your whole self on a deeper level. Even if you take 10 to 15 minutes a day, sitting in silence with your eyes closed will help you begin to shine light on what's hidden in your subconscious or shadow side.
When something comes to your awareness, you can simply observe it from a space of loving kindness, process it compassionately, and then let it go. Practicing mindfulness throughout the day can also enhance your shadow work journey, allowing you to contend with shadows as they arise in a loving and compassionate way.
By far, shadow work journaling is the most popular way to dive deep into the shadow and face and process what you find. There are plenty of shadow work prompts and guided journals to help you get the process started.
The prompts are designed to help you shine light on the hidden aspects of yourself and ultimately, release them from the darkness into the light of your consciousness.
Think of it as emptying out a heavy shadow bag that you've been carrying through the years. The more shadows you contend with, the less heavy that shadow bag is and the better you'll feel mentally and emotionally.
Shadow work journaling can help you better understand who you are, who you're not, and who you want to become. It can also lead you to a deeper connection with your spiritual self and your higher power.
Shadow work is going to be difficult for most of us. After all, we are actively digging up and facing past issues that we may have stuffed down for a reason. As you explore your answers to these prompts, make sure to practice a lot of self-care and self awareness. Reach out for help form someone you trust when it gets very hard or challenging, such as a family member, friend, loved one or even a counselor or therapist if you need extra guidance.
This is about you healing yourself. Take your time and be kind.
Photo by Zen Chung
May 25, 2022