You're probably wondering, "Have I been doing shadow work?"
Maybe, but probably not with the intent to gain any real insight.
But before we get more into it, let's go over a few things.
What is Shadow Self & Shadow Work?
Your shadow self, or shadow, is the side of yourself you have no awareness of. It holds all the qualities you disowned during your formative years.
Although you learned to repress these qualities and push them outside of your awareness, they still live underneath the surface.
They unconsciously guide your actions and are the unseen cause for many of the troubles in your life.
Shadow work is the intentional practice of becoming aware of your unconscious shadow and integrating these neglected qualities into your being—becoming whole.
This is a process of building self-awareness, self-acceptance, and universal Love.
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."Carl Jung
Have I been doing shadow work?
Here are 4 ways you have been doing shadow work without even knowing:
Writing & Journaling
Writing is inherently a single-person activity, so in many ways, writing is a form of self-talk.
What's more interesting is that much of the creative stories people come up with are symbolic representations of what the unconscious mind wants to rise to consciousness.
For example, a vampire is a symbolic representation of a low consciousness person.
A vampire has no observable reflection because he cannot self-reflect.
They feed off of blood, draining people's "libido"/life force.
Those who are bitten are cursed or "traumatized."
The traumatized psyche will then try to adapt to their new distorted worldview, antagonizing and draining others who don't see the same way as themselves.
What defeats a vampire is an understanding of God or Oneness. This dethrones the vampire's curse and cleanses the psyche.
Why? Because lower consciousness people tend to have a god complex. But this is no match for actual Truth/God/Reality.
A wooden stake through the heart represents the cross where Jesus was crucified.
The unconscious mind likes to communicate metaphorically.
The creativity that comes from people's writing tends to carry many metaphorical truths observed by the unconscious.
Allowing your shadow to express its creative energies through writing gives it the acknowledgment it desires.
Finding out that you hold seemingly non-native insight and honoring these insights is a way of integrating and accepting your shadow self.
If you aren't the creative type, you can still journal as a self-therapeutic exercise to help you process your innermost feelings.
Mimicking Who You Idolize
Working to be like someone you admire is a form of shadow work because you allow yourself to act upon and accept an unexplored part of who you are.
What do I mean by this?
Well, you can only admire somebody if you sense the same worthiness within yourself.
This means that you recognize a quality that you hold within you but have yet to accept.
At some point, you disowned this quality within yourself, not out of survival, but simply because it was never explored and embraced.
Acting towards your positive projections is usually a very healthy way of integrating your shadow.
Your shadow already knows you have the potential in you. So it nudges you to take an interest in the person you admire in hopes that you will imitate them.
Becoming whole is a part of life. So if you feel drawn to someone who inspires you, and you want to do what they do—
That's a sign that claiming those admirable qualities are the next authentic steps for your life's journey.
Sincere Love Affirmations
Most people don't realize that self-love and universal Love are the same things.
So by sincerely repeating love affirmations every day, you are learning to potentially love your entirety, including your shadow.
This is an insight I stumbled upon many years ago but didn't fully realize until much more recently.
Here is my experience of "I love myself."
Long ago, I left an abusive household, witnessed several cases of marital infidelity, was experiencing homelessness while completely gaslighted by those closest to me.
All within a span of a few months.
My idealistic 19-year old being wasn't experienced enough, or even ready, to take on so much Reality.
"It's all just a distraction isn't it!" I cried out drunkenly.
My psyche was distorted. I became highly nihilistic and depressed. Seeking revenge towards those who abused and gaslit me.
It was a time where I felt more than just broken. I felt absolutely shattered.
What got me through it?
Repeating the affirmation "I love myself" non-stop every single moment of my waking day for several days.
Eventually, I learned to accept my own love. And as I learned to love myself, I learned to accept the way the world is.
In a way, I stumbled onto the concept of consciousness. Where I'd empathize and entertain the possibility that cheaters don't know how heavily their actions impact other people.
Of course, as a dumb kid, I would fall back to my close-mindedness as I slowly got over the trauma.
But that phase of nihilism was an excellent existential "palate cleanser" that allowed me to allegedly explore activities of an illegal nature.
Another affirmation I took up to explain the non-sensical, undeserved hardships I endured was "I am the bad guy."
I didn't say that to sound edgy. Instead, it was a desperate attempt to make sense of the world.
Because to me, it made sense that bad things happened to me because I was a bad person.
By explicitly accepting this "non-truth" on the emotional level, I was actually giving myself self-love on an existential level.
It was permission to accept and act upon my darker impulses. (I didn't learn what evil actually is until much later in life.)
This probably isn't what you were expecting for advice on shadow work and self-love...
But shadow work is inherently amoral and universal Love does include the "bad" alongside the good.
Wholeness is completeness, not perfection.
Catharsis through Art & Entertainment
A good movie can move you emotionally and even help you understand and connect with your inner resources.
Pixar has been exploring this with releases such as:
- Soul - Life, Love, Construct-Awareness
- Moana - Inner Voice, Intuition, Higher Self Calling
- Inside Out - Inner Child Wounds
The list above is actually more redundant than it appears.
Being able to resonate with various art forms and experiencing catharsis gives you a better sense of connection with yourself.
Movies do this by having you walk in another person's shoes and project your own feelings onto them.
Because get this—
The characters are
faking it acting—if not their emotions, then their situations.
You are entirely projecting yourself into their situation.
And the unconscious mind works symbolically—not literally.
This means that even processing emotions vicariously can make a real therapeutic impact on you.
Entertainment can help you tap into your shadow desires for power, sex, or anything else you don't consciously consider yourself to be.
There's a reason why competitive sports events, gory slasher films, and rise-to-power stories have a massive audience.
Everyone has a shadow, and even the most horrific aspects of ourselves need an outlet.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work Course is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This course is updated every year and gets new content at no additional cost. Learn more here.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This short course goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for people dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance bundle teaches you some holistic and systems thinking along with how to mend your inner child wounds so you can align with your higher self and move forward in life. This includes 20 video clips as a free bonus.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a small sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through my BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.