What is Shadow Work?
Shadow Work is a process where you become aware of what you don’t see about yourself. It is all the memories, feelings, beliefs you have experienced in your life that became subconscious.
When something is subconscious, we cannot see it, and so you are unaware of something, and that is called a ‘shadow’. When something is conscious you are aware of that it’s there.
For example, learning how to drive a car takes practice, but when you practiced it over and over again it becomes automatic and you don’t have to think about it anymore and so it became subconscious.
Shadow is just a word, there is nothing scary or truly negative about it. So, a shadow is any aspect of you that is not conscious.
But why do you want to become aware of something you don’t see?
Why would you even go look for something you don’t see?
If you avoid emotional pain and negative feelings, you prevent yourself from living in alignment with you true needs, wants and desires to create a life that you truly want to live.
And you can also not clearly express your true, wants, needs and desires to the people around you and so you don’t show your true authentic self.
And that’s why you want to become aware of your so-called shadows, so that you can create a life that feels good, is authentic and free.
But why do we avoid emotional pain in the first place?
So, in order to become aware of your ‘shadows’ you need to listen to your emotions. And when you have painful memories from the past that are unresolved and became subconscious, then you experience painful emotions and your ego is going to do everything to escape from that, because your ego is wired to protect you.
When we are born, we are born whole. From a higher perspective you are always whole and untouched. But from this perspective you encounter experiences in your life that creates mental and emotional distress that can be small or big. That distress doesn’t just disappear, you can see it as if that memory is frozen in time. It just fades from your conscious awareness. And that’s why you feel the way you feel.
So, you are born into a family and society with specific beliefs and way of living. And growing up you get the message that some behaviors are acceptable and some behaviors are unacceptable. We have been taught that good behaviors are praised and bad behaviors are not acceptable and are being punished. The behaviors that are not acceptable will be rejected. Like not eating your vegetables for example.
Because we are dependent on our parents for our survival as a child we learn very soon that we cannot show unacceptable behaviors because than we get punished is some way. That punishment feels like a push away and connection is actually the number one basic human need we have. That is something you want weather you are aware of it or not.
So, then what happens is we suppress those behaviors or aspects within ourselves in order to stay connected in order get our needs met and to survive. Without your parents you won’t have a roof above your head and you don’t get food or toys, right? And we just love food and toys. So where else would you go?
So, these suppressed aspects or personality traits become subconscious. This creates a split within our consciousness. That split creates the conscious and the subconscious. And the so called ‘shadows’. And we have all done this, if you are a human being on this planet right now, you have experienced this. You just don’t remember, because you did this subconsciously in order to protect yourself.
We also suppress positive traits
Now suppressing traits or behaviors that are considered negative because they are not wanted is more common but there are also traits that are positive that we suppress.
For example, you talked a lot when you were younger, but your parents find that annoying. Instead of seeing it as a quality of self-expression, a good communicator or maybe even being a good speaker, they rejected it. And rejection doesn’t need to be a big event, they can be a small thing by just saying a few simple words that disapprove of that behavior. And it feels like a push away, and that results into your fight or flight response turning on. So, in those moment you reject yourself as much and as often as you need to in order to keep the connection and survive. Now you can see how good traits also have been suppressed in our subconscious.
Get in touch with your emotions
So, to become aware of that what we have suppressed, we need to get in touch with our emotional pain and negative feelings. This brings up that same fear of rejection what we experienced in our past. And so, it feels like you are going to be punished again, and your ego tries to escape from that by distracting your attention from the pain, in order to protect you. So that’s why it’s not easy to gain self-awareness.
Now your ego is not your enemy your ego truly beliefs it is doing things in favor of you it is trying to protect you from harm. Isn’t that sweet?
The soul wants one thing and that is to become whole again, as whole as you can be in this perspective. And so, things you experience in your daily life are opportunities to become ‘whole’ again, to become aware of your subconscious. But to do that we need to integrate all the aspects of ourselves that we abandoned and rejected within ourselves.
But integrating your past memories, feelings and beliefs is the way to resolve and release past trauma. So that it is no longer holding you back from expressing your true self, to get to know what you truly need and want and so that you can, step by step, create the life that you want to live. This is why you want to do shadow work.