In this post, we'll be going over ideas about shadow work for letting go.
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 Letting Go
Part of maturing is learning about impermanence and letting go.
Impermanence essentially means that all that exists will change. This includes your relationships, your life situation, your interests, your hometown—everything changes.
Much of our suffering comes from clinging to something that isn't doing us any good.
Learning to let go means accepting the Reality of the situation and parting ways so you can move forward with your life.
However, this isn't always easy. Many times it's a process of discerning whether something is going to work out or doomed to fail.
Is Letting Go Giving Up?
When you are heavily invested in a person or thing, it's easy to be intimidated by the uncertainties that follow letting go of what you have.
Is this a challenge to overcome? Or is it a foolish fantasy?
Should I stay? Or should I go?
In these cases, determining whether to let go is really demanding on your inner resources because it requires you to rely heavily on faith.
Here are things worth considering:
- How much time have you put into this?
- How often have you put yourself in substandard situations for this?
- How much effort have you put into it with not enough returns?
- What else is Life offering to you?
You can have the drive to pursue this goal for years on end. Even if it puts you through poor circumstances and you put in lots of fruitless effort.
Many people will be so invested that when you ask them, "has any of this been worth it?"
They might answer, "No... but it will be."
This is the mindset of someone who is pushing forward and persevering. Hoping the fate they envisioned will someday meet them.
There is something in this person's unconscious—something in their being—that supports what they are after and is calling them to do it.
When Letting Go is a Good Thing
A person who is done, who has reached the end of their journey, may instead tell themselves:
"I'm tired. I can't do this anymore. But I don't know how to give up on this. What else is out there for me?"
When you feel you have exhausted yourself, to the point that your "inner voice" tells you this isn't going to work—
That's a good sign that it's time to let go.
Sure, you might cling to the idea because it's what you know. But knowing deep down that this isn't going anywhere is the Self telling you that this phase of life is over.
It's time to move on.
Why Letting Go is Hard
Hope can be the source of your suffering.
When something in you knows you must stop trying, but you egoically deny it, then you will cause yourself suffering.
This is also referred to as Relentless Hope. I also refer to this as "living a life of hope and cope."
This is an unconscious belief formed in childhood when a child believes that a caregiver will provide something they've never provided before. Many times, the caregiver will tease what the child wants but still never give it.
This is a fantasy coping mechanism that carries over into adulthood. Where the wounded adult can relentlessly pursue a goal to no avail simply because they genuinely don't know how it "looks" when something "is working."
They are hanging onto a fantasy that they can't let go of.
Telling themselves, "This time, it'll be different."
Check out What Inner Child Wounds Do I Have?
When Letting Go is the Only Option
Because the ego is used to working to no avail, it can be difficult letting go of a fantasy.
Despite seeing the potential, the ego must develop the willingness to let go of what doesn't work.
However much it hopes that things will work.
Taking this to a spiritual level, inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous—
The person can surrender themselves to a higher power and admit that they are powerless to the subject at hand.
This means that they will actively avoid putting themselves in a situation where they will act upon the subject.
And have faith in a higher power that they will end up in a better place in life because of it.
This is crucial because the ego is arrogant and rigid. It believes it knows best. However, holding onto Relentless Hope is evidence that it doesn't know best.
In other words:
You must give up the part of you that holds relentless hope. You must let this part of yourself die. And expect to grieve over it for some time.
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.