How to know if you need to do shadow work? 8 Signs You Need Shadow Work

Are you wondering how to know if you need to do shadow work?

Before we get into it, we need to make sure you understand some important concepts.

What is 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.

Here are 8 signs on how to know if you need to do shadow work! 

You Are Easily Triggered By Others

A trigger is a quality that you have disowned within yourself, which greatly affects you when you see it within somebody else.

The reason why this quality bothers you so much is that you’ve actively learned to hate it.

For example, a kid in grade school who is punished for lounging around but praised for working will learn to disown their laziness.

Because laziness means punishment, the child learns to disown this side of himself.

However, you can’t get rid of who you are, you can only repress it.

Now whenever you see laziness within another person, you get triggered. You are greatly affected emotionally because you hate that part of yourself. Meanwhile, you’ll notice that this quality doesn’t bother others.

This is self-hate. You don’t realize that the quality is within you too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t bother you so much.

You can read much more in-depth about this in my projection psychology article.

Dysfunctional Relationships

People who need shadow work will often find themselves in dysfunctional relationships.

This is hugely due to their unconscious beliefs about their own existence.

Most people aren’t aware that they live their lives under unconscious invalidation.

This 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 there, 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.

Inaccurate View of Reality

Here are two short videos that go over how your triggers and your view of the sexes can distort your view of reality.

If you enjoyed these videos, follow me on TikTok and Instagram.

Lack of Humor

One of the more obscure topics about shadow work is sado-masochism.

Sadism, or “sado-“, is the desire to cause pain and affect others. It’s the desire to get validation by invalidating others.

Masochism is the desire to receive pain and be affected, or in other words, to receive validation by being invalidated.

Don’t get so hung up on these words. For our purposes, they help describe human nature and the unconscious shadow operates.

Sado masochism is present in everyday life.

You are around people who express sado masochism every day. For most people, it’s their natural mode of being.

And in social situations, it’s common for immature adults to unconsciously put themselves in situations where they can be hurt by sadistically-inclined people.

All laughter comes from the shadow because laughter is a form of repressed sadism.

You can get a better understanding of your shadow by paying special attention to what makes you laugh uncontrollably.

This is typically a signal of what you wouldn’t do but would like to do.

However, a person who strongly represses their shadow will generally lack a sense of humor.

Instead, she will not find the joke humorous and act judgmental towards the subject.

Read more about emotional immaturity and shadow work here.


This usually appears as something related to mental illness or substance abuse. This is outside the scope of this course.

Keep in mind that the unconscious will create neurotic symptoms to push a person towards inner work.

This is because depression and anxiety tend to come from not being who you truly are—from playing a role.

Until then, the neurotic will seek to blame. She will act badly without feeling responsible for her actions.

Dream of Figures You Despise

The shadow likes to appear in our dreams as the same sex as ourselves.

However, we typically try to avoid it when it appears in our dreams for the same reason we don’t consciously see it when we’re awake—

Because the mind doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

If you can identify your shadow within your dream, do your best to interpret the side of your personality it’s trying to show to you.

Although your initial response is to reject it, it’s best to integrate the qualities it’s revealing to you.

Dreams are your psyche pointing you in the right direction of your waking life.

Your Demeanor Doesn’t Match Your Mindset

The body is always conveying what the unconscious mind is saying.

For example, a person who acts modestly and feels humble internally can unintentionally appear prideful and conceited externally.

I am a great example of this.

People always tell me that I carry myself with a great sense of pride and posture. Everything I do appears calculated. My movement appears deliberately slow.

Reader, I’ll tell you right now, my upright posture comes from having suffered back pain every day for two years. I’ve always been slow with my words, and rely on enunciation to keep my audience’s attention. My pensiveness is more hesitance.

But every single date I’ve ever had will tell you that I look like a proud snob. I’m not. (I’m the ghetto boy who didn’t fit in the ghetto.)


Because your shadow holds the qualities you repress most. And your body constantly reveals what the unconscious mind is saying.

Your Words Don’t Align With Your Actions

I think this short clip will sum this point up nicely-

How to do Inner Shadow Work & Integrate Your Shadow Self

Like all things unconscious, integration is your ability to bring your awareness to it.

The most common way people start doing shadow work is by doing shadow work prompts.

But if you’re serious about making some real-life changes, then-

Check out the Shadow Work Course here.

Check out A Light Among Shadows: A Guide to Self-Love & Being here.

Subscribe to get your free ebook 30 Shadow Work Prompts



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