In this post, we go over the topic of shadow work for unresolved emotions and processing feelings.
First, let's briefly take a look at what is the shadow self and shadow work.
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 Processing Feelings
You don’t get closure by telling yourself the same story over and over again.
You give yourself closure by processing the feelings that were tied to the events.
This inner work of processing your true feelings is what allows you to let go of what happened and get on with your life.
It helps to talk to someone you trust to help you process your emotions.
- Name the emotion that you feel is tied to what happened
- Is this emotion new? Or is it reoccurring? How much of it is rooted in your past?
The reason why you tell someone you trust is that you need someone who can help you look at the situation more objectively.
Our emotional beliefs have a tendency to cloud our judgment and disconnect us from reality.
The goal of self-reflecting and processing your emotions is to find out the following:
- What is it you’re really feeling?
- How much of it is personal?
- How much of it is historical?
- What parts of these emotions are being activated in your relationship?
Then you will express these feelings with as much vulnerability as you can. This means you will speak it, and allow your body to act in a way you feel is most congruent to your emotions.
Have your partner acknowledge what’s going on and their role in it (even if it’s not intentional).
A line you can use is:
“I don’t need you to understand, I just need you acknowledge that this is how I’m experiencing it.”
At this point, you will know if the issue is rooted in the past or present.
If the issue is related to the present, then you can confidently ask for what you want without demanding it. Usually, whether there is change or not, you will feel better.
If the issue is rooted in the past, then chances are you started a drama and put your partner on the defensive. This prevents any closure from happening and usually means that you didn’t get an actual objective view from another person earlier on.
An objective perspective helps you prevent unconsciously manifesting a drama by keeping you in touch with reality.
Shadow Work for Unresolved Emotions
You must be able to both contain and express your emotions. You DO NOT act on them.
Feelings of being hurt or angry can be talked about and expressed, but you mustn’t act on them.
Although someone else has triggered this pain within you, it’s your responsibility to deal with them.
You take responsibility for your emotions by:
- Accepting the reality of the other person, they did what they did, they chose what they chose.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions without letting it shake your foundation out of balance. “They did what they did. I can’t control it. Things could’ve gone better and they could’ve gone worse.”
- This sharp pain is a re-experiencing of your own childhood pain. Understand that someone else would take the same situation better or worse. This is the pain that gets to you. You owe it to yourself to mend your inner wounds and take responsibility, rather than act on your feelings.
Everyone is capable of hurting you to some degree. Letting yourself build resentment blocks off loyalty and commitment.
Acting out in vengeance will never feel as liberating as letting go of these emotional debts.
The good news is that by moving past these conflicts is what brings true commitment. It’s what allows you to see that this person is not perfect. While also strengthening your ability to love this person unconditionally for who they truly are—grounded in reality.
When this hurting can be reconciled, a healthy relationship can come forward. When the hurting can’t be reconciled and is relentlessly reoccurring, then this is abuse and must be left behind.
NOTE: No adult is too fragile for honest feedback. Although nobody should be a victim of blame, everyone should be called to be held accountable.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work for Beginners is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This resource gets updated at no additional cost.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This series goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for anyone dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work for Relationships teaches you everything you need to know about attachment theory, practical inner work, and your dysfunctional behavior. By the end of this, you will have developed your earned secure attachment style so you can put an end to your cycle of bad relationships.
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.