Are you wondering how long does shadow work last?
Do you do shadow work forever, and does shadow work ever end?
You can do shadow work for the rest of your life. But, chances are, at some point, you'll become mature enough that you won't need to perform shadow work much anymore. There are stages of life that we go through, and it's essential that as we go through one stage, we don't forget the qualities of the prior stages. I'll get into why in a moment.
Before I go into these stages, which we'll refer to as Spiral Dynamics, I want to make sure you understand a few key concepts.
What is the shadow, and what is shadow work?
The shadow is the side of yourself that's disconnected and unfelt. It's the part of yourself that's been rejected since childhood, and you have no awareness of.
Shadow Work is integrating the entire spectrum of your being. It's the intentional process of admitting the parts of yourself you've ignored and repressed.
Why does everyone have a shadow self?
When you were born, you were a whole, complete being.
But as you grow, your family and culture encourage some parts of your personality while punishing other parts.
So as a child, you learn that you're supposed to be one way and not the other. This other side of yourself is the shadow self.
Even though you don't identify with it, it's still a part of who you are. And you cannot eliminate who you are.
Instead, you can only repress it to the point that you're no longer connected or aware that it's a part of you.
It's in the process of building up your proper persona that you indirectly create your shadow persona.
Everyone gets split into two, and it is vital for human beings to get along.
Roughly, these first 20 years are your "shadow-making" years.
Spiral Dynamics & Shadow Work
Spiral Dynamics has several key stages:
- Red - Power Hungry
- Blue - Conforming
- Orange - Ambitious
- Green - Spiritual
- Yellow - Integral
The one-word descriptions by each of these stages don't do them justice by a long shot.
But the point I want to make is that if you're in a 1st world country, you should have passed through stages Red and Blue around your first 20 years of life; "shadow making" years.
Your prior stages build the foundation of the following stages. But sometimes, your foundation is underdeveloped.
For example, too much blue and not enough red make you a passive person. Yet, too much red and not enough blue makes you a belligerent person.
The right balance is to integrate both red and blue qualities and balance them to the given situation. This is what's considered healthy and mature.
The healthy and mature version of passivity-belligerence is assertiveness. Assertiveness is essential for having a healthy ego.
Someone who has successfully integrated the healthy manifestations of their red and blue stages will be much better off when experiencing stage orange.
Some people might skip a stage entirely. For example, stage orange is commonly overlooked by progressives into stage green.
It's great that they are spiritually gifted. But stage orange is there for people to develop pragmatism, efficacy, and success.
People who haven't integrated these orange qualities will seem out of touch. This is why many people are condescending towards the compassionate ideals of stage green people who have failed to take advantage of stage orange.
Stage Yellow is what I teach here.
Shadow work is very much a stage yellow practice.
It's becoming aware that these stages exist and that we need to look at these past stages and integrate what we missed or mend what we have into maturation.
How long does shadow work last? Does shadow work ever end?
As long as you are immature and haven't integrated these qualities, you will need shadow work.
But that doesn't mean you will need to do it every hour or every day.
Personally, I'm very aware of how the spiral dynamics stages are playing into my life. As a result, I understand where I need to go next, and I do not have any mental distortions preventing me from my pursuits.
I might do shadow work, specifically "Active Imagination," only two or three times a month now.
When my psyche was less settled, I did it more often. But that was years ago.
Brief Videos on Spiral Dynamics, Shadow Work, & Emotional Maturity
Here are brief videos on shadow work, spiral dynamics, and emotional maturity.
Did you like the videos?
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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.