In this post, we'll be going over ideas about shadow work for empaths and empathy.
First, let's quickly go over what shadow and shadow work is.
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
Shadow Work for Empaths
Empathy is powerful because it shows the other person that we are tuned into their emotions and perspective.
It brings a sense of safety and security to the relationships, allowing us to lower our defenses and deepen the connection.
Empathy involves joining another person's inner and emotional world through genuine curiosity, listening,, and relating.
In a sense, it's an actual test of the imagination.
Because initially, we might imagine ourselves in the given circumstances before we imagine and consider the inner experience of the other person in those same circumstances.
Sometimes when we try to empathize with another person, we may actually feel "off the mark" or even skeptical of the other person's experience.
This is an opportunity to talk more and explore how you can relate to their experience and bridge any empathy gap so that you can reach resonance.
For example, some people absolutely hate gore-filled movies because they have a level of empathy that causes them to cringe at the sight of bodily pain.
Meanwhile, other people have a big enough gap of empathy that makes it easier for them to sit through the gory movie.
What is Empathy?
Empathy is very much the ability to get in touch with a moment in a person's past as if it's here right now.
Empathy is an emotion that involves the ability to retrospect.
This "applied retrospection" is how a person can relate accurately with another.
It's important to consider that the person who needs empathizing is also practicing retrospection to bring the troubling event to the present moment in the psyche.
How Beings Emotional Charged Can Reduce Empathy
Someone who is "in their feelings" may actually have a hard time empathizing with another person.
For example, suppose you are fuming with anger. In that case, you will have difficulty understanding how others perceive you because you are emotionally enclosed by your anger, impairing your empathy.
It takes calmness and presence to be able to empathize effectively with another person.
Why Empathy is Good
People have the need to be heard and feel seen.
By experiencing this via empathy, a person is being helped in a non-judgmental way that allows them to develop their inner resources indirectly.
Relationships like this are what help people become more whole.
Because with proper empathizing, the listener can bring forward the question that will help the other build self-awareness and self-love:
What do you believe you should do about this?
By recognizing the other person's experience, they are more likely to accept their situation and see it as a sign that inner guidance is calling them in a specific direction.
How Empathy Can Be Bad
This high level of empathy can be a massive obstacle to one's own life journey; individuation.
For example, an empath who relates too much to another person's emotions can lose touch with their own emotions.
Too much accommodation given to others is emotionally taxing and unfair.
This is an issue because big life choices require emotional fuel.
If someone cannot relate enough to their own emotions, this can prevent them from making important life decisions.
A parent who hears their child crying may overly empathize with their child's distress. So even if holding back would be best for the child in the long run, overly empathizing can cause the parent to give in to the child's demands.
Empathy can make you lower your expectations of another person. However, taken too far, and this could be diminishing to the other person.
While empathy is essential, it's equally important to not overindulge with someone to the point that it's meddling with either person's life; "toxic empathy."
Maintain enough connection and distance that you can understand and empathize while still having enough space to feel your own feelings.
Lack of Empathy for Shadow
A person may lack empathy and act cruelly upon someone because that person is carrying projected shadow material.
Someone who is projecting their shadow will quickly assume an antagonistic attitude.
Typically, this happens on social media when the commenter already assumes that they won't deal with the content creator again.
Since they unconsciously assume that this interaction will be a quick ordeal, it's effortless for commenters to project their shadow on the content creator.
How do I know this?
Because I have a fair-sized TikTok account, and it's very easy to see how many "passerby" commenters have a distorted psyche and inaccurate view of reality.
This "shadow-antagonizing" phenomenon can also explain why hyper-vigilant people are so easily triggered by less sensitive people.
A lack of compassion towards those who hold a projected shadow of "insensitivity." Ironic.
This judgment that calls to demonize or dehumanize another person is evidence of arrogance and pride in one's own ignorance.
Which results in both sides endlessly activating each other's shadow, furthering the antagonism and exhausting animosity.
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.