This is an excerpt of a section within the Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance, titled How to Practice Shadow Work Examples of Techniques & Exercises.
Here is a quick rundown of shadow and shadow work to get you up to speed:
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 to push them outside of your awareness, they are still living 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."
Shadow Work Examples of Exercises & Techniques
Shadow work can be practiced using a variety of techniques and exercises. We'll look at a few in this guide to get you started.
Meditation can assist you.
Attempt to achieve a calm and neutral mental state. When practicing shadow work, it's important to try to relax. Stress and critical or judgmental attitudes will stymie the process. So, whatever you do, try to incorporate a meditation (such as Zen meditation) or an awareness technique (such as mindfulness).
Recognize that you aren't your thoughts. For the Shadow work to be healing and liberating, you must first recognize that you are not your thoughts. Then, you'll be able to see the aspects of your Shadow for what they are, and you'll realize that they don't define you in the end: they're just mental phenomena that rise and fall.
Self-compassion is a good thing to practice.
Compassion and self-acceptance must be incorporated into shadow work practice. It's easy for the Shadow Broker to turn on you and make you feel bad if you don't love and understand yourself. So, concentrate on cultivating love for yourself; only then will you be able to let go of your shame and embrace your humanity.
Make a mental note of what you discover.
Keep a personal journal where you can write or draw your discoveries. You will learn and grow more effectively if you keep track of your dreams, observations, and analyses. You'll be able to keep track of your progress and make important connections as well.
Pay attention to how you're feeling.
You have power over what you give power to.
Pay attention to anything that surprises, disturbs, or turns you on in a secret way. In essence, this practice is about figuring out what you've unconsciously empowered in your life, because what we value, good or bad, says a lot about who we are.
The truth is that our reactions, or what makes us angry or distressed, reveal a great deal about ourselves. Observing your emotional reactions can assist you in determining how your major injuries affect you daily.
Express your shadow artistically
Art is the purest form of self-expression, and it's also a fantastic way to let your shadow emerge. Psychologists frequently use art to assist patients in exploring their inner selves.
Start by allowing yourself to experience dark emotions. Choose an artistic medium you like (such as pen and pencil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic paint, sculpture, etc.) and draw what you feel. It is not necessary to consider yourself an "artist" to benefit from this activity. You don't even need to plan what you will create. Let your hands do the talking: the more spontaneous the drawing, the better. Artistic expression can reveal a lot about your shadow. Jung was also famous for using mandalas in his therapy sessions.
Begin a project.
The act of creation can be excruciatingly frustrating, giving rise to darker aspects of your personality such as impatience, rage, competitiveness, and insecurity. Starting a project, on the other hand, allows you to experience feelings of fulfillment and joy.
Find something you'd like to start doing if you don't already have a personal project (like building something, writing a book, composing music, or mastering a new skill). You will be able to gain deeper insights by using awareness and exploration during the creation process.
Ask yourself, "What do I feel and why?" regularly.
Take note of the strong emotions that arise during the creation process, both positive and negative. You'll most likely be surprised by what you discover!
Explore your Shadow Archetypes
Sometimes our Shadow takes on specific roles, also called archetypes. There are dozens of them, but below we have listed the most common with their main characteristics:
- The selfish Shadow
Arrogance, self-centeredness, self-importance, recklessness, narcissism, excessive pride.
- The neurotic Shadow
Paranoia, obsessiveness, suspiciousness, picky, demanding and compulsive behavior.
- The Unreliable Shadow
Confidentiality, impulsiveness, frivolity, irresponsibility, unreliability.
- The emotionally unstable Shadow
Lunatic, melodramatic, impulsive.
- The Shadow that controls
Suspicion, jealousy, possessiveness, bullying.
- The Cynical Shadow
Negativity, hypercriticism, condescension, short temper.
- The Wrathful Shadow
Ruthlessness, irascibility, litigation.
- The Stiff Shadow
Rigidity, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, stubbornness, inflexibility, narrow-minded.
- The casual Shadow
Superficiality, cunning, inconsistency.
- The cold Shadow
Emotional detachment, indifference.
- The perverse Shadow
Masochism, obscenity, sadism, vulgarity, lust.
- The Cowardly Shadow
Passivity, shyness, fear.
- The immature Shadow
Childhood, childishness, naivety.
Keep in mind that this list of Shadow Broker archetypes is by no means exhaustive (there are many others), but you are free to use this breakdown to help you explore your Shadows.
Engage in inner conversations with your Shadow
As Carl Jung put it, a conversation with your shadow, also known as "inner dialogue" or "active imagination," is a simple but effective way to learn something.
This practice is met with skepticism: after all, we're taught that "only crazy people speak for themselves." However, inner dialogue is frequently used in psychotherapy to assist people in communicating with various personalities, and we all have different faces and sides to our ego.
Sitting in a quiet place, closing your eyes, and tuning into the present moment is a simple way to practice inner dialogue. So, come up with a question you'd like to ask your Shadow and ask it quietly in your head. Then, wait a few moments to see if you can "hear" or "see" a response. Then, keep track of everything that happens and think about it.
It's also possible to have a dialogue with your Shadow. Just make sure you're receptive to new ideas. Put another way, don't try to control what is said; instead, allow it to flow naturally. The responses you receive will most likely surprise you!
Use the mirror technique
As we've seen, projection is a Shadow technique for avoiding what we've rejected.
However, we project our negative qualities onto others, but we also project our positive qualities. For example, a person may be drawn to high self-esteem without realizing that this is a quality they wish to rekindle within themselves.
The mirror technique is a method for identifying our projections. To put it into practice, we must approach the world with awareness and honesty, and be willing to acknowledge what we have shunned. Being brutally honest with ourselves is difficult, so practice is required.
Begin by examining your feelings and thoughts about those with whom you come into contact. Then, keep an eye on yourself when you're emotionally involved and ask yourself, "Am I projecting something?"
Remember that we can project our characteristics onto another person who possesses those characteristics. This is sometimes referred to as a projection onto reality by psychologists. We could, for example, project our rage onto someone who is also enraged. Alternatively, we could project our jealousy onto someone who is truly envious.
"What is mine, what is theirs, and what is ours?" is a question you should always ask yourself.
Not all triggering events result in a projection, but the majority of them do. Also, look for qualities in others that you admire and uncover positive hidden projections.
The mirror technique will assist you in shedding light on the Shadow qualities you have rejected, suppressed, repressed, or denied.
This excerpt comes from the section titled How to Practice Shadow Work Examples of Techniques & Exercises.
Did you enjoy this article? Check out the Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance.
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.