Have you ever heard of the symptoms of shadow work?
Before I get into them, let's go over some key concepts.
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
5 Symptoms of Shadow Work
Here are some side effects of shadow work:
- Understand Self-Deception & Distortions
Shadow work helps you understand how the psyche affects how we see the world and the people around us.
Since you found a way to see through your own self-deceptions, you have compassion for those who don't.
So when you see a person getting triggered, you don't view them as evil antagonists—
But instead, as people who don't know themselves as well as they think they do.
That doesn't mean you won't find them exhausting. It just means you know they're deluded by their inner wounds.
You'll be able to get a better read on people's personalities because you'll be able to spot the recoil for each of their patronizing judgments.
- Hands-Off Approach to Guiding Others
People are usually "called" to confront their shadow through a "dark night of the soul."
With enough retrospection, introspection, and observation, you will notice that some people behave the same way you had at an earlier phase of your life.
This is because there is a common ego development path that people roughly tend to follow:
Power Hungry - Conformist - Ambitious - Tree Hugger - Integration
People can be called to confront their shadow somewhere in the development of the Ambitious-Tree Hugger phases.
For the Ambitious types, they either prove their efficacy and succeed until they gain a more compassionate awareness for the community at large—
Or they are forced to face the very real limitations their life presents them. Which they can still overcome, but not before they recognize that there's a higher power at work.
The Tree Huggers are typically taken advantage of and blindsided by the selfishness of someone from a lower stage.
Or they realize that most effort won't be enough for change until more of the world becomes aware. Which happens, but in its own time.
You'll notice that these developments are done by exhausting the phase or experiencing a trauma that results in changing their existential outlook.
When you realize that each of these phases is their own delusions, which each person will go through in their own time, you stop trying so hard to change people's perspectives.
You're less forthright about pushing your existential perspective on others.
That sort of thing is beyond you.
When I was growing up, I always took care of my younger brothers. Then, as an adult, I was able to help them find jobs, give them guidance, etc.
One day my brother told me he had $40k in investments. I was taken aback.
Not that he had that money. I'm happy for him.
I was taken aback because I looked back at my own life and realized—there was no possible way I could've had that much money in investments in my life.
There was no opportunity that would allow that across my life's circumstances.
I asked him how he did it while still being in college.
He'd been DoorDashing when he wasn't working on school while living with his family.
At his age, my own living situation was unstable, and app delivery wasn't even a thing.
Not only were our situations vastly different, but the world changed more than I realized.
My point is this—Realize God will take better care of others than you ever could.
It doesn't hurt to nudge someone here and there if it means a healthier development.
But don't try convincing anyone of the flaws in their way of life. Don't try convincing someone of religion, or an entrepreneur, or living green, just because you are.
Everyone grows in different ways and on different days.
And in some way or another, everyone will go through all these phases. God willing.
- Slip Into Theoretical Tunnel Vision
Since you have accepted your shadow through integration, you will have much better access to all of your potentials.
This gives you much more creativity than someone who is completely shut off to certain qualities within themselves.
It's much easier to put ideas together and see how they impact different perspectives within society.
However, a lot of these ideas will sound good in theory but won't be practical.
Your level of creativity will get to the point that you will become a visionary—
In the insulting sense of the word.
You can't see reality as it is because you are too entranced by all your ideas of how things could be.
The issue with tunnel vision is that, although you have intense focus, your enthusiasm fails to let you stop for a moment and look around.
This enthusiasm will eventually lead you to neglect your relationships because you get great joy in the possible ways you can impact humanity.
Of course, this only encourages individualistic behavior. Which would change to collective-oriented behavior once more people can reach this level of consciousness.
There's a lot you can miss if you don't stop to look around.
And the constant influx of ideas can overcomplicate plans and lose pragmatic quality.
Meaning that you're ideas are not as impactful as you thought they would be. Perhaps you are ahead of your time. Or maybe you have lost your sight of reality and can't see things as they are.
Either way, you've fallen in love with ideas, and you've fallen too far into theories.
The best cure is to refocus on relationships.
Go get laid. Touch grass. Spend time with family. Things like this.
- Appear Cold & Distant to Others
When you get deep into shadow work, you'll notice that you become very observant of people's actions. As a result, you'll attempt to discern more than people typically would.
One good example is when you hear about a pedophile getting arrested and how nobody knew this person was capable of such an act.
While everyone is disgusted and condemns the pedophile, you are more likely to say—
"Well, you don't know if he has some weird trauma and issues that led him to do that."
The average person will condemn you because they will think you are trying to defend the pedophile.
You, on the other hand, are already aware of this.
You're more interested in why they did it. What was happening inside of this person that would guide them to take such actions?
You essentially take a more impersonal approach because you are more curious and lean towards compassion.
(I am not encouraging any type of sexually illegal behavior. If you think I am, you are tremendously stupid, and you need to leave this website.)
- Indifference for Traditions & Cultural Norms
Traditions and cultures always have a shadow.
When social norms are dictating what is "right" and "wrong," you can be absolutely sure that peoples' shadows will be made of what's declared "wrong."
Someone who does shadow work will not be ashamed of their "wrong" behaviors. Because they have accepted these desires within themselves.
To the point, that following social norms is a practice of deliberate politeness.
Not one where there is fear of being declared as "less than," based on community standards.
Understand that the person who has done shadow work doesn't have the same limitations as those around them.
An integrated man is not afraid to love his wife recklessly, despite being seen as a "simp."
The ambitious Christian isn't afraid to start a business, despite his community declaring money as the root of all evil.
And a woman isn't afraid of embracing her sexual drive, despite society's attempts to normalize sexual repression.
They can live freely as the whole beings they are. Even when society is convinced to hate those parts of itself.
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.