Can shadow work help with depression?
Yes, shadow work can help with depression. It's usually due to a lack of self-love and neglect of shadow work, that people feel more depressed than they normally would. Of course, make sure you talk to a specialist to know more about your specific diagnosis and treatment.
Before we get into how the lack of shadow work is manifesting your depression, we need to make sure you understand a few things:
What is your inner child?
Your inner child, similar to your shadow, is part of your unconscious mind.
Your unconscious is a side of yourself that is disconnected and unfelt.
It’s the part of yourself that’s been left behind since childhood and you have no awareness of.
We are all born whole, but in childhood, you leave parts of yourself behind.
Family and culture make you embrace some parts of your Self, while completely abandoning others.
This happens when a child idealizes her parents and follows arbitrary rules for survival.
These rules implicitly embed the child with the unconscious idea that she is bad—which is a typical childhood experience.
When the child sees that some of her feelings and thoughts are unacceptable, she chooses to get rid of them.
(This creates the child’s “inner parent”, which encourages obedience at the cost of being whole.)
Then the rules and unconscious beliefs you learned as a child evolve and are carried into adulthood.
Knowing this, we can look into how your lack of shadow work, and more specifically self-love, is adding to your depression.
Here is how a lack of shadow work is contributing to your depression.
Do you remember a bit earlier when I mentioned the inner parent?
This inner parent contributes a lot to your distorted perceptions of the world. These judgments come from entitled beliefs that have been ingrained into your psyche in your formative years.
There are three broad ways this inner parent messes with your worldview.
Distorted View of Reality
You grew up with certain expectations and value systems that were based on your parent's view of the world. By the time you're born, the world is very different from the baseline period your parents' judgments are based upon.
In other words, much of what you're taught from childhood is outdated by the time you reach adulthood.
This is something that happens on a collective scale, depending on where you live.
For example, in the United States, it's common sense that slavery is wrong and should not be allowed in any way. But in third world countries, such as many of those in Africa, the slave trade is quite large.
Their values and judgments toward their slave trade are different than how we view it from a first-world country.
On a more personal level, a person can grow up believing that the world is full of opportunity. And it is! But not everyone has the resources or ability to take advantage of certain opportunities.
While some people will claim you simply need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, they won't realize that they were given opportunities far more easily than others.
It's incredibly hard to see this when you're in it.
Meanwhile, the less fortunate who are equally or more ambitious, are being told that their lack of results is due to their laziness. Which objectively wouldn't be the case.
One of the most depressed types of people out there are workaholics who are spinning their wheels, yet see their more privileged colleagues surpass them with much less effort.
To some people, meritocracy is a given. While to others, meritocracy is a luxury.
Or how for some countries, freedom is a given. While to others, freedom is a luxury.
Someone who cries out that life should be this way, and is eating shit in life, is somebody who has a distorted view of reality (believing in something that isn't so).
Part of growing up and maturing is proving your inner parent wrong with your own personal life experiences.
For many young adults of my generation, we've been told that a degree is enough to live a good life. If you can get a degree, you'll do just fine.
Reality proves otherwise for many of these young adults.
Becoming upset at false realities you thought to be true, such as this, contributes to depression.
Unmet expectations can be very harmful to the person. They may experience a feeling of being rejected by fate.
The mature thing to do is accept the reality of the situation, and be more alert and informed about their decisions going forward.
It's okay to grieve. But don't let yourself wallow in self-pity for years on end.
Distorted View of People
When you believe people should be this way and not this way, you are making self-sabotaging judgments.
Not only are you setting up expectations for others that are bound to leave you disappointed, but you are also hurting your future self.
I go much more into your triggers and how they distort your sense of reality here.
Distorted View of Yourself
Most people aren’t aware that they live their lives under unconscious invalidation.
Which is why they live out these dysfunctional patterns with each other.
They give themselves momentary relief from their self-invalidation by invalidating others.
This happens either when your inner child wants validation, or your inner parent (the arbitrary rule-maker of “how things should be”) gets triggered.
For example, an immature adult engages others from the unconscious mindset of: “I’m not okay” or “You’re not okay”.
From here, you will unconsciously seek to fulfill the existential position that gives you the validation you’re used to:
- Nobody can be trusted
- I’m blameless & you’ll always forgive me
- I’m always wrong
- I am pure
- I am helpless
- The world wants to dominate me
- I’ve always been a loser
- Everyone is ungrateful
You will unconsciously live out these positions in your relationships—even when it’s against your self-interest.
Until you become aware of this, your psyche is in arrested development.
Learn more about this in my article Inner Child Healing.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Humanity is on different levels of consciousness. Chances are, you've been around people who are lower consciousness.
Check out my post How long does shadow work last & does it ever end?
If you're serious about Inner Child Healing, check out the Shadow Work Course here.